God thwarted my plans, and that’s okay.

As Christians, we often wonder if we are doing God’s will.

Before my husband and I began our journey of fostering children, we thought for almost a year if it was God’s will to foster children. I am going to say something very bold: If both you and your spouse have thought about fostering children, it is God’s will, because if it is not, I promise, He will close that door. Most couples never consider fostering and those that do consider it, it’s usually one (usually the wife) who is more open to it. So if both of you are up to it, please take the next step in getting certified.

In life, we are sometimes so fearful to take any step in any direction because we are afraid of making a mistake and somehow and in some way thwart the will of God (Job 42:2). Let me take a whole load off your shoulders: God loves you, and “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Rest in this knowledge, my sister or brother take the next step.

I say all this because I want to tell you about the time in my life God didn’t give me foster children. My husband and I had completed our classes. We had gotten our fingerprints – TWICE (that’s another story). We did the home test, the body test, the psycho test. We got our CPR certifications. We turned in all our paperwork, watched all the videos and drew out our fire escape plan. All we were waiting on was our background checks to come back. I had only been living in Kentucky 4 years, so being an import from Texas, I needed a background check from there also. So I submitted my background check application and sent it off to Austin, Texas. My Kentucky background check came in 6 weeks and I got nothing from Texas. Nada. All the people in my church who took the foster classes with me, they all began getting their placements, and I was left waiting for this background check. I. was. devastated.! You just don’t understand, I have the organization skills of a squirrel on crack and the attention span of a puppy when it comes to paperwork. I loathe paperwork, and I had done it! Every single piece of stinking paper. And I wanted my foster kid! I had finally stepped out in obedience. I was finally unafraid of getting a little monster kid! I had tried so hard to get my home up to par. I was ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus to all the orphans of Western Kentucky! But flipping Texas was taking its flipping time! Months went by and nothing came.

Then came a call that changed my life forever . . . . .

A friend of mine asked if I wanted to translate for a young man that had just arrived from Guatemala. I would sit with him in all of his high school classes and translate for him what the teacher said from English to Spanish. The answer was an easy “yes” because my life was on hold, not being busy with foster children. That’s when I met Kendell. And as I sat with Kendell day in and day out, I found out that he was orphaned at 6. That he had no support here in the states and slowly, God revealed to me that this was why the Texas background check never came. The child God had for me, at this time, would not come from foster care, but would come through Crittenden County High School. The child God had for me was not Kentuckian, but Guatemalan. The child God had for me was not a youngster, but a teenager. The child God had for me would not be speak with a lisp or a stutter or have delayed speech, but would speak Spanish.

God uniquely brings about our passions. Not all of us have the interest in loving a child who doesn’t share our DNA. Frankly, it’s so rare that even radical Christians struggle with the idea of loving children who are not their own blood. This is why I want you to see how special you are if there are tugs at your heart to foster children or adopt them. Not everyone feels those nudges.

Six years ago, tomorrow, Kendell moved into our home. He has my heart and loves me fervently. He takes care of me when I am sick, lavishes me with hugs and kisses and makes me laugh every day. He is sweet and caring to all of his brothers and sisters, and there is nothing he wont do for any of us. About a year after he moved in, he became my brother in Christ! Seeing him grow in his faith has been inspiring and I can’t wait to see how God will use him to further His Kingdom. Almost 2 years ago, we officially adopted him and gave him the middle name Josiah. Josiah in Hebrew means “God supports”. And He does.

Two years later I did get my 3 little monsters from foster care, and that’s another story!! (There are so many awesome stories when you say “yes” to God!) But by then I didn’t need a background check from Texas. They have also been a blessing to me and I love them to pieces! And in them, I see the healing power of Jesus Christ and the magnificent sovereignty of our Lord. Just wow! (more of this later)

My friend, trust our Father! Do not lean on your own understanding (Prov.3:5). If you are not in His will, he promises to work it out. Ephesians 1:11 says: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. God’s purpose will stand with or without you (Isaiah 46:10). You know the way, the way that was given specifically to you, now walk in it, boldly, knowing full well that He will support you or even thwart you. (Isaiah 30:21)

By the way, I never got my background check from Texas,

I picked up a homeless person

It was the first day of school, finally! I had had the kids since March and they were finally going to school in mid August. I had plans to eat Doritos and binge watch some nature or crime show all day. I dropped them off at school and as they got their temperature checked, I willed the thermometer not to read high. Then I went to McDonald’s, parked for a moment to eat my breakfast and listened to the news! (Yes, this is my idea of fun) After eating, I took the longer way home just to enjoy the ride ALL ALONE! Then, I saw her, she was walking barefoot near the dam in Grand Rivers. She was frail, thin and looked disheveled and lost. I didn’t want to stop, I wish I had taken the freeway, but there was no way now that I was going to ignore a woman that most likely was homeless at best, or abused and exploited at worst. I sighed a big sigh of frustration and knew I had to obey the tug at my soul to aid this image bearer. I made the U-Turn and then another, and pulled up close to her, only to realize that she was really a he! He was very thin and looked Southeast Asian. He had already seen me and I didn’t have the heart to just drive away and leave him there. I then called my husband and just said “I’m pulling next to a homeless man, I’m putting you on speaker phone just in case he’s drugged up and tries to kill me.” This isn’t the first time I do things like this, so Nathan just sighed and stoically said “okay” and stayed on the line. (I love him so much!) I wasn’t too scared of him, since I probably had about 100 pounds on him, but people on drugs can get pretty strong, even skinny ones.

I briefly talked with the man to find out if there was any way I could help him, but he didn’t speak much English and I don’t speak anything else but Spanish. So I got no where with him. I didn’t have any money and I had just gobbled up my McDonald’s breakfast, so I gave him what I had, my leather moccasins. My favorite, Minnetonka, comfy, tan moccasins. “He has no shoes, he has no shoes.” I kept telling myself. He is walking through the streets and has no shoes. All the homeless people I had ever seen before have had shoes, even their dogs have those little scarfs. This man, has no shoes, and I have a closet full of them. So I gave him my shoes, and he took them gladly and to my surprise they fit him a little big! But he was still grateful. I then tried to ask him where he was staying and he pointed at the woods and that he had been living there for 4 or 5 weeks. So I gave him the other thing I had. My Thirty-One monogramed bleacher blanket that cost me more than I’d like to admit! But here was a man who was living in the freaking woods. He was covered in bites, he had no shoes, and looked starved. So I gave him my blanket! I had 20 blankets at home! I even crochet blankets all the time. For fun! Blankets. Throws. Fluffly towels. Not leaves, or grass, or branches. Blankets, that’s what I have. He has leaves. I have blankets. Blankets!

I then asked him if he wanted something to eat – as I shamefully wiped the biscuit crumbs off my chest. He mentioned he hadn’t eaten in two days. So that’s when I decided I would take him to Wendy’s. I was also able to figure out that he had 3 children, and that he would like coffee since he hadn’t had any in a very long time. He was also a butcher and worked mostly with pork. His country of his birth is Thailand and he speaks Karen.

I eventually took him to my home (yes I know, I did tell my husband what I was doing and he was okay with it) and had my oldest help me get him some clothes. My oldest also wasn’t too surprised when I bolted into his room crying that I had a poor, half-starved man waiting in my minivan. He was a little upset that I picked up a man, but once he looked at the half dead man just waiting for us, he didn’t say much but helped me pack a duffle bag for him full of clothes, towels, an extra blanket and socks. My oldest accompanied me to drop him where he wanted to go and when we said goodbye, ThaiThai (which is the name my oldest and I affectionately call him, not his real name). Well, ThaiThai cried. He then put his hands together, bowed his head and said what I think was thank you. My oldest squeezed my arm and whispered to me in Spanish — “Not right now. Hold it together. Be strong. Cry later.” I didn’t hold it together and cried. We drove off and I sobbed.

I am so blessed beyond measure and I am ashamed at how self-centered I can be, so I want to give out a warning to all of us, my dear Christian brethren. Do not let this “pandemic” make us self-centered. I wanted to do what I wanted to do with HIS time. I wanted to not share the material things that HE has given me so much of. I felt inconvenienced when He wanted my simple obedience. Covid has done this to us. The kingdom of God does not cease to expand because of a virus. The threat of death has never in over 2000 years thwarted the mission of the Church – on the contrary it usually thrives within it. Fear of the unknown has never been an excuse to disobey our God who calls us trust in Him and not lean on our often flighty understanding.

Don’t grow lazy my brothers and sisters. Righteousness is not something we can drift towards. We must strive for it. Obedience is often hard (giving away your stuff, sanctification, mortification, giving away your blanket) and sometimes scary (helping out a man you thought was a woman). It is a constant struggle and now with the excuse of a “pandemic”, very easily we can lose the will to struggle for righteousness. But, take heart, we trust in the One who has overcome death. He loved us so much, He didn’t fear the ultimate virus which has an 100% mortality rate, but bravely bore it and we are now immune. Forever. And not only are we immune, but we have been given the call to tell others of this great news! That they too may live forever with Him!

So love on the ThaiThai’s around you. Don’t neglect the assembly of the saints. Tell God “Yes I Will”. Live fearlessly – wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Remember, what’s the worse that can happen when you obey God? Death? But your immune!

God bless my friends!

American Gospel

American Gospel – Christ Alone is a documentary almost 3 hours long. It is free on Netflix. It is mainly an explanation what of what the true Gospel is, what it isn’t and a warning against the prosperity gospel. The movie calls out several popular pastors and explains what it truly means to take up our cross and follow Jesus.

I loved this documentary and it was a breath of fresh air to hear the Gospel just spoken over and over again. It reminded me of the freedom in God that I have and the grace that I couldn’t earn. It brought back the memories of the first times I started to understand just how special I was to have my eyes opened to the Truth of His Word. My heart leaped hearing the Gospel preached by so many and hearing their testimonies on how they came to salvation.

The movie does call out many beloved preachers and pastors, but I believe they (the producers of the documentary) are being obedient in calling out false teachers. John Piper has an excellent response to this very thing and you can read or listen to it by clicking on this link.

This movie was needed. I needed it because lately I have been complacent in my faith. I have become stagnant and mediocre and I can’t stand myself sometimes. My prayer life stinks, my Bible reading has just picked up and listening to person after person explaining their testimony and proclaiming the Good News, livened my slumbering soul. Praise the Lord, for His salvation. Praise the Lord for His Sovereignty! I am saved not because of my works, because of the work of another!

I highly recommend this documentary.

There is a second documentary by the same director called American Gospel – Christ Crucified that I started watching today and so far, it has been a blessing.

Prayer

Prayer is usually one of those practices that most Christians need to do more often. I know I do! It’s like trying a new diet, you get excited, you’re motivated, you write out little post it notes with words of encouragement, and three weeks later you’re binge watching Netflix while eating a bag of Doritos! Fortunately, there were some pragmatic points I think will stick with me. Here is what I underlined in the book and I hope it blesses you:

“King David learns that prayer is more about “will you? Won’t you?” than “when will you?” pg. 36

“Prayers are measured by their strength and not their length.”pg. 37

“Prayer begins with longing for God’s presence before his provision.” pg. 55

“Peace with God always comes through pardon and forgiveness, never performance.” pg. 58

In the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus is praying and Peter, James and John are with him – “As Jesus brought the so-called strongest with Him, he didn’t share profound words of wisdom. He shared His weakness.” pg 68

“There is no smaller package than a man wrapped up in himself.” pg. 111

This is a short, small and on-point book. I did feel there was a small jab at the founding fathers, but nothing that I couldn’t read over. It was condescending and in bad taste and full of presupposition. Overall, the book was informative and good.

I struggle with prayer. It is my heart’s desire to cultivate prayer in my life. In a way the quote “Prayers are measured by their strength and not their length” freed me of this expectation that the longer the prayer, the holier it is. I am grateful for that quote and I will treasure it. I want to experience God in prayer and rely on Scripture to guide me to know Him more. Mr. Onwuchekwa does well in removing my legalistic approach to prayer. He also emphasizes the importance of communal prayer.

The book served its purpose and I recommend it to all Believers who want to sharpen their prayer life, especially prayer with other Believers.

You can buy the book here.

Do Not Let Satan Use Us

Last night the governor of Kentucky stated that wearing masks is no longer voluntary, but mandatory. As expected, Facebook exploded with blistering comments on both sides. Verses like “consider others more than yourself” and “God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear” were thrown around like cafeteria food during a food fight. It was not pretty and in the end someone has to clean this mess up, and it’ usually is not the ones who were throwing the food around.

Do not get me wrong, using Bible verses is a great way to make a point or to strengthen an argument. But the world is watching us hurt our own. How would things have turned out if two Christians with opposing views had said, “I don’t agree with you on this based on my knowledge of Scripture, let me call you so we can pray together, and so you can better understand me and I you.” or “Let me buy you lunch, I will wear a mask for you.”

I think back to moments where my mind was changed on topics I had held strongly to and I can tell you, it was never changed by Christians ramming down Scripture down the throats of their fellow brethren. It was done by weeping pastors worried for my soul pleading for me to repent – based on Scripture. It was done when a close friend lovingly explained a sovereign God while we sat in her car late one night – based on Scripture. It was done listening to a respectful debate between two Christian brothers who love each other – based on Scripture. It was done listening to someone echo my fears, but still not voting a certain way or taking a certain action – based on Scripture. (And may I briefly add that if you haven’t changed your mind on any subject, you are not a very good listener.)

I have learned that we cannot hear when we are angry. I learned this well with foster children, later with raising teenagers and even my adult child. During a meltdown, my kids don’t hear. They don’t even feel the spankings! Any discipline goes out the window and all they end up feeling is resentment. Also, when my emotions are conflated, I am unreasonable and cannot hear anything either. It is later when I am calm and still that the Spirit stabs me with His Word, that I am able to feel the pain of His rebuke or the rebuke of another Believer.

My dear Christians, if you became angry yesterday and “couldn’t believe how other people behaved” and responded to them, could you humbly go to them and ask them if you were a good Christian witness? To a stronger point, could you look them in the eye and partake of holy communion with them? (I Corinthians 11:29) Could you look into your heart and tell the Lord, I have nothing against my brother, and they have nothing against me? If you can’t, make this right. This is serious (I Corinthians 11:30) and we must be different from the way the world handles disagreements.

Romans 12:13 says: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”

The verse says “as it depends on you”. Don’t wait for the other Believer to make the first move. Don’t brush it off as if it is not a big deal. It is a big deal. A life or death deal.

Why? Because when we are not saved, Satan has us and does what he can to keep us in the darkness, but when we are saved, Satan no longer has us, but can tarnish our witness to keep others in the darkness.

Do not let Satan use you.

If you try to make amends and the other Christian is holding on to their pride, be sorrowful and look back at the verse. It says “if possible”. If it isn’t possible, continue to live your life loving God and loving the saints and then others. Then maybe try again one more time after the election, maybe. 😉

If you didn’t say anything to someone but thought it only – congratulations on showing some self-control, but the feeling to talk to them could be a prompt by the Spirit to come along side them and love on them. Don’t muffle the Spirit, you could be changing their mind soon or they may be on the verge of changing yours!! Or you may not come to an agreement, but at least Satan was denied, God was glorified and this is not a salvific issue. You do know that Christians who wear a mask are still going to Heaven, the same as Christians who don’t?

If an all-knowing, holy God can sit and reason with us feeble minded ignoramuses, (Isaiah 1:18) surely we can reason – one unholy masked ignoramus to another un-masked one! Surely?

Amazing Grace : William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

This is the second biography that I have read that was written by Eric Metaxas. The first one being on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Reading about the life of William Wilberforce has changed me. There is no way it couldn’t. What this man did with the time God gave him on this earth is just short of miraculous. His convictions changed a whole culture and catapulted British society into an age of providing human dignity for the poor, the less fortunate and of course, the slave. There were so many involved in his life-long campaign to end slavery and I hope I get the opportunity to read up on all of them.

Mr. Metaxas has a beautiful way of revealing the intangible life of Wilberforce but at the same time bringing him down to a level where I can almost touch him. It is an encouraging book of a man who just lived out his faith. Like the biography of Hannah More, these Believers just experienced their faith. They were not side liners or bench warmers, they truly believed what God’s Word says and did it. I couldn’t help but think of my life and what exactly am I experiencing in my faith. What kind of Christianity am I living out?

Wilberforce had long walks with God and brought along his Bible to read. He went against British society and regarded all men to be image bearers and worthy of dignity. He went against the mold and fought against animal cruelty. He thought all children – including poor ones – should be educated and taught to read, write and math. He believed that Christianity was not just nominal, but a way of life that transformed character and changed desires. He spoke up for the weak, the oppressed, the voiceless and the destitute. What a man! In his life time he was part of abolishing the slave trade, enacting laws against animal cruelty, and bringing about the emancipation of the slaves. He also endeavored to encourage Christians to act out their faith and brought about reform in this area. He gave a wealth to different charities and ministries. And as his life came close to an end, he only regretted not being able to do more!

I highly recommend this book to all Believers. It is my hope that it encourages you to live your life fully for our Lord. To be anxious for nothing and love those God has placed in your life. To fear nothing, and fight the good fight that is so many times against our selves. To live on purpose and with focus on the Kingdom and His people. I believe I spend too much time scrolling on my phone when there is really so much to do. May God grant me the ability to be aware that my time here is but a vapor, and that I may be His vessel to be used as He wishes!

You can buy the book here.

I am not your redeemer .. .

I was driving back home from Chicago – a 7 hour drive one way. I was deep in thought listening to my audio book when the sudden urge to pee came over me. I looked down to check to see how many miles I had until empty and to my utter horror it was a big fat zero! How long had I been driving like this? Where am I? I have to pee even more now. I had no idea humans could whimper until I heard one coming from my mouth and my nose. Tears welled up from the lack of bladder relief and I was in total despair. I quickly looked up the nearest gas station on Google maps and saw that the closest one was 8 MILES AWAY! I whimpered again. I saw a sign that said Pesotum and I figured it was a tiny town and surely they have a gas station that Google forgot to add. So I exited and hoped to find civilization. I didn’t see a gas station, but I did see a couple outside their home enjoying the soon approaching sunset – which was my doom if I had to walk in the dark to get gas in the cornfields of central Illinois. This is how all murder movies begin! Thankfully this sweet couple had a big dining table for sale in their front yard so I had a perfectly good excuse to peel into their driveway and frantically wave at them as I got out of my minivan. They approached me with reserve because I was a bit jittery due to a full bladder and the non-stop whimpering. With the biggest smile and quavering voice I told them I was on zero on gas and if there was a little gas station near by I could fill up at. She told me there was one about 5 miles from where we were. I told her thanks and I hoped I could make it. I tried to comfort myself saying, well I could use a walk, and cornfields at night aren’t that scary. Right? Oh yes they are!! Darn you, Children Of The Corn, Signs, Freddy vs Jason, A Quiet Place, Sinister, Jeepers Creepers and every other friggin horror movie with a friggin corn field!! And just to top off the scary corn field, Illinois has these massive windmill propellers swinging around. I know they draw attention to all kinds of aliens and monsters and white-haired children who kill for kicks! Thankfully, the man who had been silent this whole time said I was in luck and I need not drive away, run out of gas and pee myself as I was being strung up to be a live scarecrow. He had just filled up his little gas cans and he would put gas in my van. I almost peed for joy. He put gas in my van and then said something very interesting to me.

He apologized to me.

He told me he had not one racist bone in his body. And frankly I believed him, because most people don’t. We have biases, ignorance, stereotypes, but outright racism, no most people don’t. I quickly held up my hand and shook my head stopping him from further apologizing for something he never had done to me and I believe, to anyone else. I was not his Judge or his Redeemer.

As I drove away noticing that I now had 46 miles until empty thanks to my white new friends, I thought a lot, but not too much because I didn’t have the heart to ask them to use their toilet so I got to the nearest gas station and ran – yes ran my jiggly self – to the bathroom. There are few joys in life than peeing in a non-cornfield place, with lighting, and minimal gas station bathroom juice on the floor. After that AND filling up my minivan, I did think a lot about my new friends. We had chatted for about 10 minutes and even took a selfie. I thought about all my closest friends where I live (who just happen to be white). I thought about how they make me laugh. I thought about how we have shared tears, and joys, and even fights. I remembered the strong opinions we have, the hobbies we enjoy, the theological debates we partook in. They are a true joy to have on this earth and I revel in the idea that they are joining me eternally in Heaven – together forever, literally!! And their whiteness or my Mexicaness has NOTHING to do with these moments. We have such strong bonds because of our shared faith. My or their DNA has nothing to do with our friendship, it just adds to the fun!

My gas-giving-new friends – who just happen to be white!

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we must not allow others to apologize for things they did not do. If any sin has ever been committed, it was firstly done to Christ! Sins done in the past by others who are now dead were either paid for on the cross by Jesus or are being paid for right now in hell. And it should stir us to a sense of finality because we cannot do anything about that reality now.

BUT

We are alive now, and many are alive with us who still have a hope. So let us proclaim the Good News to any who will hear us. Let us love all the image bearers that God has placed in our lives! Let us, with a little partiality, love and enjoy Christians a little more because of our shared faith. God only sees one color when He looks at us, and that is red – the color of the blood of His Son. If you’re not stained by His blood, repent and trust in that payment. Believe in Him and you shall be saved. Trust in Him and He will make your path straight. Rely on Him and He will give you peace. Look to Him and this world will grow less interesting. All who are called can come to Him. All who repent and believe. All.

#race #culture #Christian #Redeemer

What side do I take?

Luke 13:1-5 begins with racial tension. It says some people came up to Jesus and told him about an awful murder involving Galileans and Pilate. The Galileans were hated by the Romans, they were even looked down-upon by their own. Remember the phrase “can anything good come from Nazareth? (John 1:46) Guess where Nazareth is located? Yes, Galilee. Then we have the Romans who had been in this area for almost a century. They were the Jew’s oppressors and were understandably hated by them.There is nothing new under the sun, my brothers and sisters. Hatred due to ones ethnic makeup is not new and how Jesus addresses it is very interesting.

So back in Luke 13:1, we do not know who brought this up, but there is an obvious agenda. These people are stirring the pot. Remember, racial tension is high. The Jews want a Messiah who is going to liberate them from Roman oppression. They want a warrior. They are restless and the presence of Roman authority is everywhere. Pilate, their governor, has abused his power and had Galilean Jews murdered presumably in their own synagogue and mixed their blood along with the sacrifice. This was an act against them and God! These men were innocent! They were Jews! Even closer to Jesus heart, they were Galilean! They were just like him! Now what do you have to say Jesus!!

Jesus . doesn’t . even . answer . their. question. He doesn’t even address their issue. He doesn’t go there with them.

Instead, like always, he gets to the root of the issue by asking them a question: “Do you think these Galileans were more sinful because they suffered more than other Galileans?”

What a question! Jesus address their biases AND the true heart of the issue. Jesus DIDN’T ask, “do you think these Galileans were more righteous?” but he asked “do you think they were more sinful.” Why? Because suffering – just like today – was seen as a form of punishment by God. – Remember Job was asked, “what did you do to offend God that you suffer so much (Job 4)?” Same philosophy. – Jesus asks them this to show them that they should be assuming the suffering is coming from sin. They usually would have thought this, but because they have a political agenda, all of a sudden their suffering is because of Pilate, not God. This is called virtue signaling and is usually drenched in hypocrisy, which happens to be one of Jesus’ pet peeves. Jesus shocks them by giving them the benefit of the doubt, which leaves them even more speechless.

Then Jesus answers his own question with a resounding “NO!” and then elaborates with “but unless you repent, you will perish as well.” I believe he let that phrase soak in a little and then continued. He answered “no” because the Galileans were not more sinful. They were not more righteous. Their suffering was not special because they were Galilean, or because they were victims of a race crime. Jesus then continues with a horrible scene that must have just happened and was still on the minds of the people – maybe like the corona virus is with us right now. In verse 4, Jesus mentions that 18 people died when a tower fell on them. Their deaths weren’t any more special than the deaths of the Galileans because He includes them in the same subject and that is that the ONLY tragedy here is not death in and of itself, but the death of someone who doesn’t repent.

Galileans killed by Romans, Romans killed in war, people killed in accidents, black men killed by cops, cops killed by rioters, the elderly dead from covid; and on and on, if they all died without repentance they are in hell. THAT is the tragedy my brothers and sisters. THAT is why Jesus was there talking with these people. THAT is why He came, to bring all who will repent and believe to salvation. Jesus says again in verse 5: “Unless you repent you will all perish as well.” He says this twice!

In Jesus’ way of thinking here there are two kinds of people. Those who perish, and those who do not. Those who believe and those who do not. Those who are saved and those who are not. These are the lenses we should see our world through. When we hear of the deaths of people, our next thought should be “were they saved?” or “Did they know our Lord?” or “Did anyone tell them of the Good News that we who were bound to and deserving of hell have a Savior?” We should mourn our complacency of not sharing this Good News to our lost friends and family and world!

Who cares if they are Galilean! God didn’t when He judged them! They died without knowing Christ. That is what He cared about! THAT is what should stir you to do something!

Can I say something that is probably going to get me into a lot of trouble? Who cares if he’s black? God doesn’t.
Who cares if she’s a woman? God doesn’t.
Who cares if he’s brown? God doesn’t.
Who cares if he’s a cop? God doesn’t
Who cares if she’s poor? God doesn’t.
What God says is that unless they repent, they too will perish! THAT’S IT! There is nothing about our DNA, social status or upbringing that God cares about when it comes to our judgement! We are without excuse and we will die UNLESS we are covered and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ! And it worries me that the church has been baited into this racial narrative. Jesus wasn’t. He went to the core of the issue as we should also.

From now on, when there is tragedy and death, I pray my mind will go to the heart of the issue and think “I too will perish, unless I repent.” Bad things happen all the time. Jesus describes this in passing in this text. It should remind us that we too will die and that people regardless of race or social statuses are dying everyday without knowing Him. I will not take sides in racial issues, because Jesus didn’t. I am on His side, and will live out my life professing the Gospel to all who will hear me.

#race #racialtension #jesus #perish #gospel

Hanna More – I love you!

Opie, John, 1761-1807; Hannah More

I remember her name vaguely. She was somebody important during the time when William Wilberforce was fighting for the abolition of the slave trade. That is all I knew of her and I wanted to know more. I help manage a crisis pregnancy clinic, and it is my belief that abortion doctors and clinics are our modern day slaver traders. The people affected by slavery were voiceless, abused, powerless and mistreated. They were seen as less than human and their dignity was not a God-given right, but one exploited by shameless people. The life of a slave was based on the convenience it brought, never on their potential or individuality. They were just hunks of flesh to be used at the pleasure of others and it was wrong. It was Christian abolitionist who lead the charge for the slaves’ freedom and their persistence and passion is admirable. I know that the  more I read on these abolitionists, the more I can learn about leading a cause now to end the murder of those who are also voiceless, powerless and mistreated. I too want to be an abolitionist.

Goodreads recommended this book to me. Oh, I love Goodreads, and if you don’t have it and are an avid reader, get it. The book I read is called Fierce Convictions and it is written by Karen Swallow Prior.

     Christianity in England during the 1700’s was a lot like it is now is the United States, it was nominal. Everyone was a Christian, and so was Hannah. It wasn’t until later in her life that she realized she had to experience her Christianity, in other words, she had to live out her faith, and when she decided to just do that, her actions and obedienced changed the world.
     Hannah More is known for not only being a slave abolitionist. She was also a writer and poet and she, along with her sisters helped cultivate a society that saw the importance in educating all children regardless of social status. Schools were not free then, and she helped champion the cause to teach all children mathematics, geography, reading and writing. Many of her contemporaries looked down on this because they saw no use in educating the poor. I was delightfully surprised also that she was so progressive that she even advocated against animal cruelty. She, along with William Wilberforce, help set up laws that made it against the law to abuse animals. She makes a great point on treating all life with dignity, including animals, the poor and slaves. These social stands were extremely liberal at the time. She made it clear in the tracts she distributed to be “religiously and politically conservative, but socially liberal.” Besides all these extraordinary causes for her time, she also believed that women should not focus so much on dainty hobbies that were done just to pass the time, but actual rigorous learning!  This is what Prior wrote:
           More argued for a rigorous education for women. One that would illicit truth,                          foster precision in thinking and cultivate an exact mind. Female education                      should bring the imagination under dominion and lead women to think, to compare,                        to combine, to methodize. It should confer such a power of discrimination                                 that the student shall learn to reject what was dazzling if it be not solid,                                      and to prefer not what is striking or bright or new, but what is just.

     More also saw the importance of mixing social inequalities with politics. Her and William Wilberforce – a member of parliament – became very close friends. Wilberforce treated her as an equal and many times they spent hours conversing about political and social matters. Wilberforce wrote to her saying: “That in parlimentary measures of importance more is to be done out of the house than in it. In other words, changing the minds of parliament would require changing the mind of the nation.” What true words!
More used her writing and social skills to help others see the sheer inhumanity of the slave trade. Wilberforce used his eloquence in speaking to help his peers to see and then vote his way. Both forces, united, as one is what changed their country for the better.

I read about these two pillars of our faith and tried to learn from them. They were extraordinary Christians that changed their world through media (newspapers, books, tracts, pamphlets, drawings) and politics (voting, town hall meetings, friends in parliament, law making). A lot of times, I want to move away from politics. I want to just live my little Christian life and leave to Ceasar what is his. But like 1700’s Britain had some atrocious laws, so does the present United States. And unlike Hannah, I can vote for these changes, not just speak about them. I want to type out a testimony of a witness that was taken to a slaver traders post. This testimony was given in parliament in 1790 for the abolition of the slave trade. Here it is:
“The witness was taken to a small gathering of slave traders about to put an infant to death. I asked him why they were murdering it, and they answered ‘Because it was of no value.’ I told them, ‘if that’s the case, I hope they made me a present of it.’ They answered that if I had any use for the child then it was worth money. I first offered them some knives, but that would not do. They however sold the child to me for a mug of brandy. It proved to be that of a woman whom the captain of our ship had purchased that very morning. We carried it on board and judged of the mother’s joy when she saw her own child put on board the same ship – her child, whom she concluded was murdered. She fell on her knees and kissed my feet.”

The words “because it was of no value” rung in my head. I stopped what I was doing and just repeated those words in my mind. What is the value of a “useless” infant? Unfortunately, in our society, the answer is relative if the baby happens to be in utero. Foster kids, orphans, babies born alive after a botched abortion, poor kids, don’t we all put a value on them. Some maybe worth more than others? Put action to your passion, don’t just let it fester and dissipate.

atrocious deeds should never be called by gentle names

I admire Hannah More, she never stopped using her God-given talents to bring about justice and kindness to those who bore God’s image. She says this: “It is part of Christianity to convert every natural talent to a religious use.” This is so true. What are your talents, and are you using those talents to glorify your Savior by beings His hands and feet here on earth? Read Matthew 25.

     Hannah More died an old lady with hands upraised to her Lord. She wrote 11 books after the age of 60 and three weeks before her death, the slave trade was abolished! There is much for us to do in our world and it is time that we move from the sidelines and experience our Christianity.

She is grounded in the Bible. She is no clamorous beggar for extortent alms of admiration. She lives on her own stock. She does not wait for the opinion of the world to know she is right, nor the applause of the wor

I recommend Fierce Convictions to all Christians, especially women. Stop reading those darn Amish romances and get into these kinds of books. You can buy the book here. I listened to this book on audible, and you can get that here.

#life #abolition #hannahmore #dosomething #experiencechristianity

 

 

 

Reproved!

When was the last time someone reproved you_

The definition of reprove is: to scold or correct usually gently or with kindly intent.

When was the last time a brother or sister in Christ reproved you? In a world where everyone’s statements matter. Where any experience makes that person an automatic authority of that subject. Where everyone has their own truth and is allowed to tout it to whomever will listen. I think it is a good question to ask oneself.

And if it has been a long time since someone has corrected the dastardly ways you behave, can I kindly suggest it isn’t because you really are that great of a human being.  Let me quote Romans 3:10-12 –

None is righteous, not one; no one understands; no
one seeks for God. All have turned aside;
together they have become worthless; no one does good,
not even one. 

Jesus gave us instruction on how to reprove our fellow brother. In Matthew 7 he says WHEN we reprove/judge we must take out the log in our own eye so we may see better, but a lot of us stop there and hesitate to assist in taking the speck out of our brother’s eye.

If it has been a long time since you have been reproved by a fellow saint, here are some reasons maybe why:
 1. You are easily offended. 
This is probably the main reason you haven’t been reproved. Most Christians are very aware of the feelings of others and it could be that your Christian friends and family are afraid of hurting your feelings by telling you some truths that could be damaging your testimony, sanctification or soul. Remember, we are to help and build one another up (I Thess. 5:11) and part of that process can be a bit painful. And even if the truths are not told in love, but out of spite, remind yourself that this sin in your life doesn’t change your status with God positionally. You are still His and nothing will ever change that. (Romans 8:38-39). So get over your offense, quit your sin if there is a sin to quit and God still loves you and the other Christian.
2. You are hiding.
Could the reason no one reproves you be because no one hasn’t really gotten to know you? As Christians we are meant to do life together. When Jesus prayed specifically for future Christians, he prayed this: “I do not ask on behalf of these (the 12), but for those also who believe in Me through their (the 12) word (YES THAT’S YOU); that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent me.” I love this whole chapter because it lets us into Jesus’ prayer life! But do you see what He just prayed? You cannot be united with anyone all by yourself. This whole prayer presupposes your life being involved in the life of other Believers. And your life includes your mess,  your sins, your nasty, you. And if you only give  your “good” side for other Believers to see, you forfeit the opportunity to potentially help a fellow saint who may be struggling with the same sin pattern as  you. (James 5:16). You throw away an opportunity to give the Gospel, and frankly you are being fake. Spend time with other Christian, so much time that they can call you out when you are not being real with them.
 3. You are proud.
Pride is such a hard sin to see in oneself because you think you are right. It blinds us to the reality that we are actually awful sinners. It justifies our shortcomings, and our outbursts. It coddles our little sins and tells us it really isn’t that bad. It places us on a pedestal and gives us the right to look down on others. I struggle with pride daily. It is a lack of humility. Pride is the root of all sin because it tells us what we are doing is right and what God says is wrong or untrue. Could it be that no one reproves you because you are too proud to be told anything? That you give off a vibe that you are so righteous that any rebuke is met with a harsh reminder of the other Believer’s sin? Who are they to tell me I am sinning when they themselves are a Jezebel or an Ahab? Ask yourself “Who is the chief of all sinners?” and if you can’t say “I am”, then can I lovingly reprove you that you too nailed Jesus to that cross and he bore every single one of your pitiful sins too? The proud Christian is the hardest kind of Christian to reprove.
4. People are clueless.
There could be a very legitimate reason you haven’t been reproved just simply because American Christians don’t know that this is what they are supposed to do with each other. In other countries I have visited, Christians are constantly telling each other the wrong things they are doing. In one church, I knew the sin issues of all that were at the church that day, and it wasn’t gossip because the people they were talking about were all  just nodding in agreement saying “yeah, we need to get right with the Lord”. And the preacher’s wife who was telling me all this was like “yeah, they keep telling me that!” And by contrast, here in the US, we have idolized privacy. And it is sinful. This has allowed certain sins to grab a hold of us so tightly that we are callous to its blows.  We excuse so many secular behaviors that other Christians in other countries are shocked at our worldlinesss. All in the name of grace (trying not to be a legalist) and respecting each other’s lives, we watch as our Christian culture deteriorates right before our eyes. And we are all part of it. How many times have we seen pictures on social media where a sister or brother in Christ is wearing something inappropriate, but we say nothing. When a Believer uses awful language, but we let it slide. We prefer to gossip behind their backs instead of lovingly pointing out our concern, based on God’s Word, after we have removed our log. We fear we may be seen as self-righteous. As hypocrites. As busy-bodies. May it not be! Read Matthew 7, all of it, not just the first verse. And then remove the speck of your brother’s eye. It is not just okay to do so, it is Biblical
5. They don’t want to be reproved
The last reason I will mention is very simple. It could be you have not been reproved because the ones who should be reproving you don’t want to be reproved back! This could be  you. Do not fear my fellow brethren, although being reproved stinks, when you take what is said in humility – regardless on how it was given – I promise it will sanctify you. Learn from it, pray about it with the person who is reproving you. And move on in the joy of your salvation. Isn’t it good to know that the person reproving you doesn’t really know how truly bad you are. They just know about that one thing, not the 50 other dastardly things you have done when no one was watching you!

I write this blog because I was recently reproved and it sucked! Reproof is not meant to be fun, but meant to grow us. Paul said:
For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; . . .- 
for I see that  that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while  – I
now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful
to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God,
so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.  2 Corinthians 7:8-10

Yes, I licked my wounds. I pouted, I justified my motives, but at the end of the day I did lack humility. My brother in Christ was right. He saw a sin in my life, I didn’t see. I couldn’t see. I wanted to lash out at his imperfection. At his audacity. And even though I thought I was right, being right at the wrong time, is still wrong. I may tell you about this exchange later, but not right now. So please respect my privacy 😛

My dear, dear Christian friend, could I challenge you to place trust in another brother or sister in Christ and give them permission to reprove you? And in turn ask them if you could speak truth into their life if it is necessary? His Word says:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. . . . My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.  – James 5:16, 19-20

Blessings!

#Christian #christianliving #reproved