Saturday, October 31, 2020

Vote

 I've put this post off for a long time, mostly because I'm having a hard time figuring out just what to say. Partly, though, it's because I don't like confrontation and I don't like upsetting people. To be honest, I may have waited too long seeing as how election day is on Tuesday... and I'm writing this on Saturday.

For some reason it's become taboo to say, but I truly believe we live in a great nation. Well, we inherited one, at least. Those who founded the United States did so by declaring their independence from any other country while simultaneously declaring their full dependence on God, the One they referred to when they wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

Right now, we are facing an election that will determine the future of our nation. I have to admit, what I've been seeing lately has me pretty well convinced that we will be living in a different world no matter who wins. A friend put it this way: "If Trump wins, we're looking at social chaos. If Biden wins, we're looking at economic chaos." I think that's putting things mildly.

I've never seen so much division and hatred in our country. The 2016 election made me say that (I wrote about the state of the nation then), but it pales in comparison to what we're seeing now. People spew hatred with no consideration of anyone else, while at the same time preaching love and acceptance and "honoring their experience." We are being told that the Left is the bastion of peace and prosperity, that if we will just step back and let the government take care of us everything will be better... while we watch cities burn and stores get looted in the name of social justice. We are told that women should have access to abortion on demand because "it's her body," but that we should wear a mask because "it might save just one person." Never mind what the data says. How many "just one"s could be saved if abortion was seen for what it is, the taking of an innocent life for the sake of convenience?

I've read post after post on social media that have told me how I'm a horrible person if I vote for President Trump. Many go so far as to say that I can't possibly be a Christian if that's how I cast my vote. Because, they say, don't you see how terrible and sinful he is? Oh, but it's okay to ignore the sins of the other side.

Wait--that's not how that's supposed to work?

This election, though, isn't supposed to be a popularity contest. It's supposed to be a decision based on who will best lead our country, and our decision should be based on the policies that will be enacted when the next President sits in the White House.

On one side, we have someone who has strengthened our economy, who supports law and order, and who doesn't back down and give in. We have someone who has brokered peace deals on behalf of Israel, deals others said were impossible. We have someone who has spoken plainly (though crassly) about the underhanded things that happen in politics and with the media. We have someone who was the first acting President to attend the March for Life, someone who donates his paycheck and does an incredibly demanding job for no pay. We have someone who believes the people of this country are worth protecting and worth fighting for. We have someone who has worked with those who are on the front lines defending the borders of our nation. We have someone who has honored and listened to people from all backgrounds, hosting them at the White House to have conversations and try to move forward. We have someone who believes in our rights, including freedom of speech and the freedom of religion (it's not freedom from religion, like so many seem to think), and thinks we have the right to be able to protect those rights as is laid out in the 2nd Amendment.

Just for clarification, the 2nd Amendment wasn't written so we could hunt. It was written so the American people could protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. Seeing as how they now have guns and missiles, we're already starting off at a disadvantage.

On the other side, we have a movement (not a man; I truly believe Joe Biden is just a puppet) that has admitted to wanting to "fundamentally change" this nation. We have a movement that is trying to take away the rights that have made us great as a nation. We have a movement that is saying babies are only a clump of cells up until the moment they are born, which is a massive slap in the face to any woman who has gone through the pain of losing a baby in her womb. We have a movement that is trying to put the government in charge of every aspect of our daily life--what we can say, where we can go, what we are allowed to do, who can work where. It is a movement that has declared that our country is inherently evil, that everyone born with the "white" box checked on their birth certificate is automatically racist despite their own words or actions. We have a movement saying the police are out hunting black men, a bold faced lie that has been disproved without a doubt by the data. We have a movement that is doing everything it can to create hatred and division, because that plays into their plan to create a ruling elite that can use the rest of us as pawns.

We are facing an election that will very likely change everything. Please, pray and vote. Don't waste the rights others have fought and died to give you. Don't waste their sacrifice.



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

wounds from a friend

 I've never been a people person, but I've always been a people pleaser. I don't like not being liked, which is probably the biggest reason it's hard for me every time I click the "Publish" button and put my writing out there to be judged. My writing feels like so much a part of me that if anyone has anything negative to say about it, I feel like that is a blow to me. When I released my first book, the review that stands out in my mind said, "too long winded and boring." There were good reviews, but those words are seared in my brain and come back to mind almost every time I try to put pen to paper.

Here's the crazy thing, though--the people who mean the most to me, the ones I have the most respect for? They don't hold back when they talk to me. They call me on the things I'm doing wrong, they tell me when I've messed up, and they don't let me just gloss over the bad parts. When I think about them, though, it's not the harsh words that I remember. Instead, it's the fact that they love me enough to tell me the truth.


"Wounds inflicted by the correction of a friend prove he is faithful;
    the abundant kisses of an enemy show his lies."
~Proverbs 27:6

We are in a world right now where people would much rather have the "kisses of an enemy" than the wounds of a friend. We want people to make us feel good; we don't want to be corrected for... well, just about anything. We do our best not to step on anybody's toes. We hear messages from the pulpit that give the idea that there's no real right or wrong and that a loving God will accept everyone no matter what.

My mom has always said something that seems fitting here: "I love you too much to let you act like that."

Love isn't about letting someone say and do whatever they want. Love is about wanting the best for someone, and that often means telling them when what they are doing isn't the best. So many like to use the argument that since God is love, He forgives everything we do and won't ever punish us for anything.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

God is love, yes, but He is righteous love. "Righteous" is defined by Webster's as "acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin." Divine righteousness demands justice; a truly righteous God will not ignore sin. Because of His righteousness, He will correct those He loves. That's not just a conclusion I came to. It's written in Proverbs and then repeated by Paul in Hebrews:

"My son, do not ignore the Eternal’s instruction
    or lose heart when He steps in to correct you;
Because the Eternal proves His love by caring enough to discipline you,

    just as a father does his child, his pride and joy."
Proverbs 3:11-12, quoted in Hebrews 12:5-6

The people who love me the most? They're the ones who love me enough to step up and call me out when I'm headed down the wrong path. They are the ones who take the risk to tell me words that might hurt me now because they care more about me being who I'm supposed to be than me being happy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

big dreams?

 For a while, there was a group of bloggers who talked a lot about "God sized dreams." The idea was a good one--we serve a big God, so why shouldn't we have big dreams? It seemed like an obvious connection, especially to me. At the time, I was searching for what my future should be. I had started teaching, but I was drowning in my first year (an incredibly common thing, but that didn't make it any easier at the time). I was debating graduate school... then deeply entrenched in grad school... then changing programs... then teaching again...

The list could go on, as I'm sure it could for you. The main thing, though, was that I was absolutely convinced that if I believed in a big God, I needed to have a big dream. After all, as God's people we're called to live out His plan for our life, right? That same topic has come up again lately for me. I listen to Dr. David Jeremiah's radio show on my way to work in the mornings, and lately he's been talking about chasing dreams.

His words have been right along the same lines as those bloggers from so long ago, the ones that got me to start a blog. He talked about how we need to figure out what our dream is, our one big goal from God, so that we can pursue it wholeheartedly. He said that we should focus on the goal so that we don't fall into complacency. He talked about being willing to take a risk, bringing up one of my favorite people--Peter. He spoke of Peter stepping out of the boat, taking a risk by stepping out onto the waves. He said that we need to find out what task God is asking us to do so that we can pour ourselves into accomplishing it.

But that got me thinking--was Peter really focused on walking on the water? I'm sure you know the story. It was late (we're told it was the 4th watch of the night, which means the hours just before dawn) and the disciples had been sent on ahead of Jesus while He prayed. The boat was being tossed around, and suddenly the disciples saw a ghostly figure moving toward them on top of the water. When they called out in fear, Jesus spoke and told them they didn't have to be afraid, because it was Him.

Walking on Water – God In All Things

Then Peter spoke up. Love him or not, you have to admit that he had a talent for speaking up when nobody else would. Sometimes it got him into trouble because he also had a tendency to speak before he thought. Honestly, this is probably one of those times. Peter called out and said, "If it's really You, command me to come to you on the water."

Jesus's answer was one simple word: Come.

So here's the task: walking on the water.

But what's Peter's focus supposed to be?

Matthew 14:29 says that Peter stepped out of the boat and started walking on the water to meet Jesus. But then, we get some subtle information--Peter saw the wind and the water. He took his eyes off of Jesus, turned his focus to the task at hand, and started sinking.

I've spent a huge chunk of my life worrying about trying to figure out God's plan for my life. I've searched the Scriptures, cried out in prayers, written lots of pages, and talked to lots of people about it. Okay, so not "lots of people." There's probably only a handful of people who hear all my crazy. I keep looking for the next step, telling God that if He just shows me what He wants me to do I'll do it. I've spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what my "one thing" is, what "God-sized dream" I'm supposed to be chasing after.

Recently, though, I've had a realization.

I've been worrying about chasing after the plan instead of pursuing the Planner.

Micah 6:8 lays out what God wants from us--

"He has shown you, o man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To do justice,
to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God."

Yes, I fully believe that God has a plan and a purpose for my life. Ephesians 2:10 says,

"For we are the product of His hand,
heaven’s poetry etched on lives,
created in the Anointed, Jesus,
to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago."

I've spent a lot of time focusing on figuring out what God wants me to do instead of spending my time and energy on getting closer to Him. I need to stop looking at the task--the waves and wind that are affecting my walk--and keep my eyes focused on the One who called me. 


**If you're like me and you find yourself identifying with Peter, the hot-headed and out-spoken apostle, you might like my devotional. You can find it on Amazon by clicking here!


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