I’m #Blessed When I Am Persecuted For My Faith, But Have I Ever Been Persecuted?

I have never been counted myself among the persecuted Church. Globally, I recognize that I have brothers and sisters in Christ practicing their faith in secret, boldly proclaiming the Gospel despite consequences, and even being tortured and killed for holding fast to the confession of our faith. But here, in my little apartment in America, I am not persecuted on this level. When I was young, I assumed I would have to go far and away to be a real Christian. I dreamed of boldly stepping on the mission field, somewhere dramatic and dangerous. My aunt told my cousin and I bedtime stories when we were little about our homes in Africa and our lives working in medical missions, boldly proclaiming the Gospel despite persecution. None of that happened. So instead, I prepared myself for a comfortable life and the occasional academic persecution for my “old-fashioned” faith in the God of the Bible. Academic persecution, while frustrating, seems silly to label “persecution” next to the stories in Hebrews 11 or from our own Christian history of those who have given their last breath for the Gospel. But does that mean I, an American woman who is called to live out my life here, lose this blessings? Or is there another type of persecution I am missing.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:10-12, ESV While I don’t want to trivialize the physical persecution many in our faith experience, I do want to look at the spiritual persecution in the Bible and how we can boldly withstand all that the devil and his minions would throw our way. Job knew what it meant to be persecuted for righteousness sake.  In the first chapter of Job, God boasts of Job’s faithfulness and, to try and test that, Satan attacks Job with all He has. But despite it all, despising losing land, wealth, children, and his health, Job stood firm. In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. – Job 1:22, ESV Job set an example for standing against spiritual persecution. And reading his story…

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I Don’t Want To Go To Church

I don’t want to go to Church today.  Sunday mornings make me want to worship the Bed of Divine Comfort instead of pulling myself away to worship the true God.   There. I said it. I want to stay comfortable. I want to try and hide my sin, deep away. I’d rather come to some sort of peace treaty with it, like if I pretend it isn’t there and it doesn’t cause me to commit one of the “really bad” sins, we can just pretend it isn’t there.  If I acknowledge my sin and proceed down the path of holiness, I will become uncomfortable. But Church reminds me that the treaty will never work because sin wants to make me a slave.  “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1, ESV But the Church also gives me the hope in reminding me of the extravagant price that God paid for my soul.  So, when you see me at church know that it’s grace, and I’m a sinner just like you. And know that I have struggles a lot bigger than just getting to church on Sundays and I need you to walk alongside me and help me through this life. Because I can’t do this alone. I need you to encourage me in the area’s God has gifted me and to fill in my weaknesses. I need you to call out the sin in my life and remind me of holy life I am called to.  But I’m pretty sure you that too. So instead of pretending to be trophies in God’s display case of good people, let’s walk into the hospital that is the Church bearing the wounds of spiritual warfare, walking to the only source of healing. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV Then, let’s show one another our brokenness and trust in Christ’s ability to make us whole. Let’s love one another deeply and go through our weeks bearing the burdens of our brothers and sisters and sharing ours and knowing, in the ends, that we are one body. We cannot hide something from our own…

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Dear Millennials, Can We Be The Leaders The Church Needs?

The announcement this week of scandal upon scandal wreaking through Christ’s beloved Church is breaking my heart. From the Roman Catholic Church to beloved Protestant congregations, no one seems exempt from the pain of the Fall. It is easy to become discouraged and dismayingly wonder why we should even continue on. But we don’t continue on because of flawed people, we continue on because the Church is the Bride of Christ. And if He is committed to purifying her, we should be as well. Fellow Millennials, can we step up and be the leaders the Church needs to see her through this crisis?  If we are going to be the generation that rises up, we need to radically commit to loving the global church, with all of her beauty and all of her flaws. And we need to stand boldly. We need to be a generation like Esther. Instead of hoping that someone else will do the hard work of being bold, we need to be the ones to go boldly forth and sound the alarm when we see corruption. May we be leaders who boldly go and call out corruption. We need to be a generation like David.  When our own sin comes to light (and it will because we all are sinful) we need to be quick to acknowledge our shortcomings and repent. We cannot lead in the battle against sin if we are unwilling to fight the sin in our own heart. May we be leaders who don’t focus on our own self-righteousness, but who know our deeply rooted sinfulness and depend solely on Christ for our righteousness. We need to be a generation like Moses.  Moses feared that he couldn’t be used to lead because of his speech impediment. But he was willing to be used anyway. And God provided someone to speak for him. May we be leaders who don’t focus on our limits but on our limitless God. We need to be a generation like Paul.  Instead of concerning ourselves with our own advancement, we need to be grateful that the gospel is going forth. May we be leaders whose sole goal is the Gospel of Jesus Christ reaching this lost and broken world. We need to be a generation like Daniel.  Daniel didn’t focus on his own strength but relied upon the strength of the Lord to serve his king. May we be…

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I’m #Blessed When I’m A Peacemaker, But What Does That Mean?

Peace like a river. That was the song I sang as a child. I’ve got peace like a river I’ve got peace like a river I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.  Deep in my soul, I wanted this peace. Peace has been an ever-moving target at many points in my life. But I don’t just want to feel the peace, down in my soul, I want to be a peace-giver, a peacemaker. And as believers, this is what God has called you and I to do. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9, ESV In a world of shouting, in a world of proving rightness and superiority, what would it look like if we stepped out as peacemakers? Instead of making sure all men knew we were right, what if we made sure everything was right between us and all men? What if we were dedicated to not just living rooted in the Prince of Peace, but to truly being peacemakers, we need be willing to sacrifice ourselves to the same, hard peacemaking road that Christ exemplified. Because peace, it doesn’t look like flowery conversations, but like a bloody cross. Wrongdoings don’t disappear simply because we wish they would – they are absorbed. On the Cross, Christ did not simply ignore or gloss over our sin, He engaged with it in the most personally painful way possible. Instead of showing us our error and His superiority as a way of shutting us up, He showed us our error and His perfect holiness then offering up His holiness on our behalf to restore our relationship with Him. That is the hard work of peacemaking. Peacemaking is caring more about making right than being right, even, or perhaps most of all, when it hurts us. Being a peacemaker means we are really to actually engage with the problem. True peacemakers don’t seek artificial peace, but engage with genuine problems. We need to confront sin and seek to restore broken relationships. Instead of doing this out of selfish desire, we need to humbly seek to restore truly, Biblical relationships. Biblical relationships that are modeled after Christ are relationships that seek to serve, rather than to be served. Peacemakers do not ignore problems by pretending they aren’t there, but by acknowledging them and seeking to forgive and reconcile. Peacemakers sacrifice themselves for true peace. …

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How To Strengthen Your Marriage By Praying With Your Spouse

We know we need to pray. Spending personal time seeking after the Lord is not a foreign concept to most of us, even if it is a struggle. Setting aside a bit of our life to align our heart and soul with our Heavenly Father is crucial to our spiritual health. If I neglect to seek God and to fill my mind with His truth, I and my family suffer. I know this to be true. Even though it’s a struggle, I recognize and aim to make this my daily goal. But too often, I neglect to grow spiritually with my husband. At the end of the day, we fall into bed, forgetting to even pray together, forget about sharing what God is impressing on our hearts. Friends, I am foolish. If my marriage is to survive, much less thrive, the Lord must take the center. Growing together as a married unit is not isolated from our spiritual growth. If two are to become one, we must become one with Him. Praying Together Unites You in Purpose When you are pouring your hearts before the Father, you are not fighting, you’re joining together. Praying together aligns your hearts with one another as you seek to align them with God.  When we are in a rough patch, hearing my husband pray for reconciliation and unity reminds me that, even if we aren’t seeing eye to eye, we are seeking the same goal. Praying for myself and my husband lets him hear my love and passion for him being expressed to God. When we pray together, we see that we are in this life together, not as individuals seeking our own paths but as a couple whom God has united, moving forward with His plan for us. During the seasons where big decisions loom, praying together shows that we are moving forward in this decision together. Despite our personal opinions, we are seeking God and honoring Him together in the life we are creating.  Praying Together Put Your Marriage in the Context of Something Bigger My marriage is not the end goal. At the end of my life, Jesus says that my marriage will be dissolved and both my husband and I, along with the rest of the Church, will be the bride of Christ. Praying with my husband reminds me of this. When we pray together, we humble ourselves and remember…

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