Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I've got to tell you this upfront, I pretty much want to plagiarize this entire post. I don't think I can explain this concept better than Mark Steele did in his book flashBANG. I love books, and being a life long Christian who attended a private Christian school means I've read my fair share of Christian books, and this one is one of my favorites. I laugh every single time I read it, and more importantly, I learn something new every time. I mean, the book's secondary title is "How I Got Over Myself." It's like it was handwritten just for me! So, as soon as you can, I highly suggest going and picking up a copy for yourself. You won't regret it. But wait till you've finished reading me first! (See? I still have so far to go!)

The thing that always grabs me by the face and slaps me is his chapter called "The Effect of Cages", or "Hamster, Thou Art Loosed!" It is as wonderfully epic as the title would suggest, and flips so much of what we've been taught forever on its head. So answer me this, what's your first thought when you picture cages?

I picture this fantastic antique green cage we kept my bird Heathcliff in growing up. It's tiny. I couldn't imagine living in one. Some picture Christianity, what with all the rules and regulations in the Bible. I think that's probably why the Grace message is becoming so popular today. We want to stop being associated with the old man with a long beard sitting on a cloud, waiting to strike us with a lightning bolt the moment we mess up, and start being associate with the God who is the very definition of true, pure love.  So we're told from the youngest age to "Reach for the Stars!" "The Sky's the Limit" and "Get Out of Your Cage!" We're raised to believe that we, especially Americans, can and should have absolute freedom to go about and do whatever we feel like doing. We've gotten Women's Liberation, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Sexual Revolution to clear the path for us to do whatever the Bleepedy Bleep we want. And in someways, that's wonderful!

It is about time that people are seen as equals. ALL PEOPLE. It's a good thing that sex is no longer this taboo subject that can't be talked about. I know that's hard for some of you to hear, but God obviously created it for a reason, and apparently He made it pretty fun. Unless He's a cruel God, which I don't believe, He thinks it's a good thing too. 

But the problem is, we're us. We screw EVERYTHING UP! We take these freedoms, and we stretch, bend, and break them to include freedoms that God never meant us to have. Not because He didn't think we couldn't handle them, that we would have our eyes opened to how "awesome" the World is away from Him, but because outside of the freedoms He's given us, there are consequences.  Did you know that SCIENCE is now saying that couples who live together before they're married or at least engaged are much more likely to get divorced? SCIENCE. We've been told forever that the reason God doesn't want us to "get our freak on," is because He's some odd control freak, and that living with a person is one of the best ways to know if you're compatible. Well, you've now been Scienced. (Any HIMYM fans?) Turns out, the Big Man had a reason for the whole wait till you're married thing. 

So what are we to do? Stay in our little Christian Bubble, safe and shiny? Nope. Not only is that impractical, it's selfish. We need to, to paraphrase Mr. Steele here, "live in both worlds. Spread our wings in one, while finding our source in the other. After all is said and done, we must return to our coverless cage, because even though our "free reign" is limited there, it's our home." 

You see, it's in embracing our cage, or parameters, that we find true freedom. "Following Jesus is irony. Always has been. Be last to be first. Give to receive. Be weak to be strong. Get in your cage to get out of it. Get under His freedom to get over yourself." We have to swallow our pride, and just simply get over ourselves. Take the freedom, that sweet, priceless freedom, and take it with us wherever we go.  Because that is where true freedom lies.

P.S. Just an added bit of goodness: "If you feel enslaved by Christianity, you are still trying to attain goodness instead of living in freedom by a radical, supernatural grace." A timely tweet from another Lauren.

I sincerely do want to thank all of you for reading and sharing my ramblings. This month alone I've gotten more 1,200 views, which is crazy, because this is me, and my total views are only slightly double that! So thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And for real, go and get Mark's book. He's much funnier and articulate than I am.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Somewhere in the Murky Middle...

Some of you may not understand ditches like us Minnesotans. I have a feeling the people of the South do not have an intimate knowledge of their local ditches like we do. It's not that we're horrible drivers, though you might think so during the first snow. I like to think that all the cars that fall in are from recent migrants, who just don't get ditches and driving in snow like we do. We can handle the craziest weather. I remember for one New Year's Eve, heading about an hour north in a blizzard that literally had the snow up to my bumper in some spots. It was easy, because I know my way in the midst of snow. I know how to take a wild tailspin my car has started, and to turn it into an awesome turn that gives me the false idea that I can be a stunt car driver. We know tricks to get our cars out of ditches, the best ways to avoid them, and so on. The number one way to stay out of a ditch? Stay in the middle of your lane. You're welcome.

We have our fair share of ditches in life as Christians. I think the majority of the fighting that takes place among us comes from them. We end up using them as bunkers to protect us, instead of trying to get out of them. We set up shop, start nesting, and claim to be in the middle of the road, but in reality, we've become almost a quicksand, sucking others in. 

And so we hear sermon after sermon, lecture after lecture, read blog after blog, begging, pleading with us to leave our trenches, to come to the middle of the road. But it's difficult to remain in the perfect middle on issues, and often we simply run. We leave our ditches, the arguments, and we trade them in for pleasantness and appeasement. It's deceptively calm, easing us into a passive state. Instead of picking a side on an issue, we just avoid them altogether. Some claim that this is tolerance, that it's loving your neighbor as yourself. That we're supposed to turn the other cheek. I call bull.

Christianity is not a passive religion.

Jesus stirred up mobs. People hated Him. Did you forget? He didn't mince words, dance around sticky situations, try to appease. He went about what He was called to do. He did so in Love, but He still did it. We need to take lessons!

I do realize that I started this out saying we need to get out of our ditches, but I may have forgotten to mention that there are many things we can learn from them. Each ditch was made because there was something to be learned there. And that's equally true of the ditch on the other side. The ditch that says that since God is Love, we have no need to fear or care about what we do because He will forgive us anyway, and the ditch that says God is a fearsome God, sitting on a cloud, waiting to strike us down with a lightning bolt, well, they are both partially wrong, and right! We have a God who Loves us, who will forgive us, but that doesn't give us a license to sin. He's a jealous God, who wants us to choose the best. He is mighty, worth of all Praise, Glory and Honor, not someone to be messed with. 
I guess what I'm trying to say is that we need to stop avoiding the ditches, and start learning from them! To appreciate the good points that can be found on both sides. And most importantly, take them back to the Bible and see how they stack up against what's written there. Because we won't get anywhere, holed up in our ditches, or off the road entirely. We've got to find the good, solid middle, and go!

Thank you all for reading! Seriously, it's overwhelming to me that you all take the time to read my ramblings. I want to give a shout-out to all of you who found me from my guest post over at Cory Copeland's blog! I'd love to get to know all of you, so comment away, send me an email, or follow me on Twitter!

Friday, November 25, 2011


So, this is craziness. I'm guest posting today! So, head on over to, and check it out!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and survive Black Friday!

           Lauren Jean

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No Te Quiero Perder

I remember this night so well, which is funny, since there was really nothing remarkable about it. It was one of my last nights in Mexico, and so two of my friends and I went out. We got bubble tea and talked and laughed, then went to Sam's Club for some food and more laughter, then for tamales, and then just bopping around downtown. We laughed and talked, about nothing and everything. I'd been gone for about a year, but it still felt like old times. When they pulled up to my house to drop me off, none of us wanted the night to end. So we sat in the car, and they got me to memorize a song in Spanish. The song is ridiculously over the top, hilariously so, gushing from this man desperate to win back an ex. He goes on and on about all the things he'd be willing to loose, but not this woman. Her presence is essential to his being, and so on.

My friends and I belted this till we were hoarse, and then sang it once more. For the remaining days I had there, whenever we saw each other, we would burst into the chorus and then laugh at the stares we got. To this day, whenever I think of them, or they of me, we pop over to their Facebook and drop a "No Te Quiero PERDER!" or for those of you who don't speak the Spanish, "I don't want to lose you!" And while for the 3 of us it's a silly statement that brings back fond memories, in actuality, it's a pretty powerful statement.

Who can you not stand to lose in your life? Yes, I realize that the Christian answer is Jesus, but really think about it for a moment. Who are the people that, if they left your life, you would notice their absence? Miss their presence? Mourn the loss of their friendship?

I know for myself that several of the people who fall into this category for me, well, let's just say that I haven't been making it clear that they are those people for me. It's all to easy to spend time alone and make excuses for why we haven't connected, or to place the blame on them. But that's not fair to them. I'm as much responsible for connecting with them and letting them know that they're valuable to me as they are. You get out of things what you put in them, and all that. So, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, let's take a closer look at the people in our lives, and let them know how much we really care for them. 'Tis the Season, after all.

Thanks for reading! You guys definitely fall into my "Things I'm Thankful For" Category! Have a wondermus Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

And I'm Thankful...

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, and my busy week, I'm going to keep this post short and sweet. Basically, I'm just gonna give you a quick run down of things I'm thankful for, because there are so many.

1. God's Favor.
   It never ceases to amaze me when God moves things on my behalf. And the best thing is, it's not because I'm oh so awesome, but because He is!

2. Friends
    I love that I have been blessed with friends that have my back and can laugh with me, no matter how long we've been apart. I've also been incredibly blessed to meet several new friends, who have spoken into my life in more ways than I can count.

3. Family
    My sister is coming to visit from California for Thanksgiving! I just saw her last month when I went out to visit her, but I miss my baby sis! She is one of my favorite people, with her hilarious stories, sweet nature, and obnoxious sibling ways. (By the way, this does mean I probably won't be posting much next week. Gotta soak her up while I can!)

4. God's Protection
    This last month has been quite the test for my friends, family, and myself. But no matter how hard things have gotten, God proved Himself time and time again. He truly never fails.

5. Baby Showers!
    Several of my friends are having babies, and it gives me an excellent excuse to bust out my knitting needles and get a cracking. I've already made 2 blankets, a pair of booties, and a pacifier attachment thing. I love it.

6. My Job
    I have a wonderful job, that while at times boring, it pays me well, has normal hours, and I don't continually want to strangle coworkers or customers. That's a miracle.

7. You!
    Like I say every time, thank you for reading! I know your time is valuable, so I don't take it lightly that you waste some of it on my writing! My ego is growing bigger every day, thanks to you guys! I kid, I kid. Kinda.

So, once again, thank you for reading! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Love you,
    Lauren Jean

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me...

There is one thing I have always been proud to say about myself, and that's that I don't care what people think about me. If I feel like singing/dancing in my car, eating a gigantic steak, or making a fool of myself, I'm going to do it. I choose my music, clothing, movies, books, or whatever, based on what I like, and not on what's popular. I've never had much time for other peoples opinions on me. I know what I like and who I am, and I'm not going to alter it because someone thinks I'm odd. I AM odd, crazy, different, unusual, and unique. And I love that about myself.


I am aware that people are watching me. Young, old, male, female, Christians, and the World are all watching me. I don't blame them. I mean, I am pretty fascinating, for a 23 year old who knits, and just planned a craft night for this weekend. And because of this, I have to be cautious and aware of what I say and do.

I do realize that those are two rather contradictory paragraphs. So let me clean this up.

We need to make sure that the person we are, and the person we show to others, are in fact, the same person.

This goes beyond "being yourself." This is making sure that you are proud of the person you are, regardless of others opinions, but at the same time, are proud and ok with people seeing you do it, because people are watching you, whether you knit or not.

I know that those seem like two things that go hand in hand, but so often we can decide that our actions are fine, as long as they're something we really want to do, that it's "part of who we are." LIES!!!  They maybe something "lawful," but at the same time, our actions can lead others to fall, doubt, or just cause general discord. And while their actions are on them, they can also point towards us as the one who pointed them off the path.

Now, I am all about Grace and Mercy. They are the most valuable thing we have as Christians, in my opinion. They are not an excuse to lead others wrong though. If you read Matthew 18:6, you'll see that Jesus feels pretty strongly on the subject. I mean, He literally tells people to jump into the ocean with a rock around their neck rather than cause someone else to stumble. That's a pretty strong message, at least in my book.

Now, before you tell me that no one is watching you, so you're in the clear, just stop. You may be the most boring, hideous person alive, and I will still bet that there is SOMEONE watching you. It could be the your local barista, the bank teller, your coworker, your friend's little sibling. You have no idea who it could be. I didn't. I started volunteering at my church's high school program, with kids who I used to babysit, and I am constantly amazed at the kids that come up to me and tell me they remember me from when I was a cheerleader, or when I did the school plays. I had no idea who these kids were, let alone that they were alive when I could do the splits. I've been shocked at the kids who have told me they did something because they saw me do it, or heard me talk about it. I mean, are they nuts? They're making choices because of me? The me I was in 9th grade?! That's INSANE! But it happens all the time, and not just to me! People constantly are making decisions because of other people they see. Myself included.

Now, I again want to say that I am not at all saying that you need to care about peoples opinions of you. Nope. When you know you're doing what God has called you to do, or its something that may just toss you into the "geek" category, toss their opinions right out the window. BUT, when you're going about your life, you need to be aware of how your actions can influence others. Be the you that you would want a group of young kids to want to be like. Be the you that your grandma would be proud of. Be the you that the World will say, "Yeah, They're a Christian, but they're cool! They're someone I want to be like. They have something about them that I want." Because that's what we're called to do here, right?

Thanks for reading! I really do not get why you pick my blog to spend your valuable time reading, but I want you to know that I truly appreciate it. Thank you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

In Whose Authority?

A while ago, I walked into a store, through the side entrance, grabbed a set of keys, and turned to walk out. An employee who had previously been on the phone, turned around, and let out a very shocked, "You can't be back here! What are you doing?!"

Now, most people would probably have a mild panic attack, being confronted like that. Not me. I just simply turned, and said, "Oh, it's ok! I'm Guy's daughter." I had no reason to be nervous, because I, as the owner's daughter, had my father's authority to be there.

I have never once been worried about walking in to the store, and asking for a boom truck, or calling in to have someone come and pick me up because my car stopped working. I could pretty much do anything I wanted to with the store, because I have the authority to do so (I don't, because I'm not a rotten human being. But I could). And quite similarly, I have the same authority in Christ, and so do you.

The same power that lives in Christ lives in us. It says in Ephesians 1, that we have the same authority that raised Christ from the grave, the power that Christ now uses at the right hand of the Father.  In Colossians, it makes a fairly convincing case that when God looks at us, He no longer sees us, but He literally sees Jesus. When God sees us, He sees us as having hung on the cross. We have the power to move mountains, to kill trees, cure leprosy, have peace in uncertainty, because we have the authority of Christ. We can go BOLDLY before the throne of Grace and Mercy, and come away with what we need! DO YOU GET IT?!?!!! WE HOUSE THE SAME POWER THAT WAS IN CHRIST! The power that created our world? In us. Why do you think pastors are constantly telling us the importance of our words? Because they are POWERFUL!

So why are Christians walking around, timid, heads hung in despair and defeat? I think its because we don't get it. We know ourselves and how messed up we are, and the very idea of us being that powerful is laughable. I mean, really. The idea that anytime I make my pathetic attempts at fixing, improving, or helping something, would in anyway be effective is in fact, hilarious! But then I remember that it's no longer my pathetic attempts, but it is the same power that raised Christ from the grave that is coursing through my veins, and my faith rises, and I can begin to see the darkness tremble.

You know, we've heard it many times that as Christians, we would do greater works than Jesus did while on earth, but I don't think many of us have actually taken it to heart. We think that power is reserved for the preachers, the pastors, the missionaries, the prophets, the evangelists. The "Holy People." Do you know who Jesus had as His disciples? They were not an impressive bunch. One of them was stealing from Him, planning His murder, another chopping peoples ears off, someone else turning away the annoying kids, and STILL He used them! I don't think God is looking for the most impressive people. He's looking for the most willing people. The reason that miracles are happening for the people they are happening for is because they realize its NOT them. It's HIM. And they've realized that they can walk in HIS authority.

God's authority, the one that resides in us, is so much more than we know or can imagine. It's more than miracles taking place in Africa. It's more than healing. It can be for protection, favor, guidance, wisdom, knowledge, talents, providence, and I'm sure many other things that I have yet to understand. And healings? Our authority is for more than just colds in the States. And its not only for the pastors. It's for you, and me. It's for the 14 year old who had never prayed for anyone before, but just believes. It's for the 80 year old who knows the Bible backwards and forwards. It's for the new believers. And most importantly, it's for the World. To set us apart from them, and draw them to us. They are supposed to notice a difference in us, and this is it. Not our self righteousness, the lists of things we do different than they, but our confidence in Him, and the Authority we have through Him.

Let's take that Authority to heart! I want to be known as the woman who houses the power of God inside of her. That the people of the World come and ask me why things go my way, even when everything looked like it was against me, and I would be able to say, "That's Jesus, my God, who is great and mighty. He's the one who should be praised."

Thank you all for reading and sharing! It means so much to me. Thank you. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fear or Faith

Sometimes in life, you may, no, scratch that, you will come across difficult situations. It's just a fact of life. Unless you live in a box. But then you wouldn't be reading this, so you don't get that excuse. From the youngest age, on up till we visit the grave, we will be faced with hard things. People will annoy us, attack us, accuse us, offend us, and you have to choose how to deal with it.

Now, I know there are many different ways to deal with these things, but I think many of them boil down to choosing fear or choosing faith.

Fear can be people's initial responses all to often. From the youngest age, we are taught to fear strangers, stoves, streets. We have it instilled in us that there are bad things that are going TO KILL US!!!! And while that's true, can I just say, "So?"

Ok, so maybe not everyone has such a flippant attitude towards death as I. Ok, I mean, yes, there are things that will kill us, and that would be awful to die before our calling is accomplished, but does that mean we should change our life and live afraid of every possible thing that might injure us? That would be ridiculous. And while we may not do it with things like paper, things we eat, not exercising, and I'm sure many others, we live our lives in fear in so many areas instead of in faith.

I am not talking about being stupid. Don't jump out of an airplane without a parachute. If I'm being honest, I won't be jumping out of a plane voluntarily with a parachute anytime soon. That terrifies me. I like to think of it as a healthy fear though. (I may need to reread this afterwards and take some pointers from myself.) But I am talking about living the life you were called to.

There are always going to be things to be afraid of. Some of them may even be legitimate things. But fear does one thing. It holds us back. It is a tool that the devil uses to keep us down and out, with nothing but a horrid idea. There's a reason we're told to guard our mind, to cast out things that are contrary to what Christ has spoken into our life. Because we were not meant to live in fear.

We were  meant to see the obstacles, the dangers, take notice of them, and then TAKE CHARGE! We are supposed to be a people of action! We are supposed to be on the offensive, fighting the good fight of FAITH. We have a Lord who has our back. He equips us to do the things we are called to do. He  trust us to do these amazing things He has called us to do. Can we not trust Him to know what He's doing?

Often times I see this lack of faith when it comes to missions. Whether it comes to getting money for the trip, being able to speak the language, cultural barriers, being able to effectively minister, or the dangers that maybe present there. People use these as reasons to say that they weren't actually called. That makes me really mad. Did you think that the devil put the idea in your head so he could lure you to Mexico/Africa/Indonesia to kill you? Really? Because I'm fairly certain that if you give the devil that much power in your life, he could get it done wherever you're at right now.

Now when you get attacked, whether it's spiritually, physically, or however, there are those two responses. To hid, never do what you did before that brought this attack on, or my personal favorite, suit up. Take lessons in combat training. Go and get your conceal and carry. Prepare your spit wads. Because this is war. And we aren't in it for prisoners. We're out for blood. (To clarify, I do mean the devil's. Do not go out for blood when the boy next to you in kindergarten eats your swirl metallic crayons. You will get a Stop Sign and be held back from recess.) Let's not back down from our callings. Let's grab faith, our Bibles, the teachings of the Lord and His promises, and go head first into the fight!

Thanks for reading and sharing this! It shocks me all the time. And if you want to read my attempts at being funny, follow me on Twitter! @laurenjeanstm Thanks, and Love!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Choosing Joy

So, I feel like I should apologize for my last post. I completely agree with it, but after the weekend I just had, it seems I didn't explain that choosing Joy isn't any easy choice.

It's quite easy to sit here and write that "the Joy of the Lord is our Strength." It's not easy to really and truly believe that. At times, it is the most difficult thing to do. But that's when we need to remember that it is a choice.

Emotions are not something we should allow to rule us, no matter what we've been told. Like thoughts, we can choose the ones we dwell on and let in. With some, it's easy. With others, it just isn't. I wish I could give you guys a step by step guide, that by completing A, B, and C, you too can rule your emotions. It doesn't work like that, though.

All I do know, is that you have to make a choice. You have to consciously and continuously choose to walk in Joy. Choose to cast out vain imaginations. Choose to believe that we serve a good God who has the best plans and hopes for us. But it doesn't stop there.

The one thing I can almost guarantee that will happen when you choose Joy? You are going to be tested. This is not a reason to back off from the Joy, which is your Strength! This is a call to arms. Whenever we receive a victory in our walk with Christ, that is the moment we must keep our guard up even more. Many battles have been lost after great victories, because defenses have been let down.

DO NOT LOOSE HEART! Do you know why Joy is our Strength? Because our Joy comes from a knowledge that we've won! We find strength because we've already done this. This battle has been fought and won, and because of that, we know we can win it again.

In the midst of your discouragement, remember the Cross, and what was finished there. When you've done all to stand, STAND! The only way the devil wins, is if we quit fighting. One of my pastors recently said to someone discouraged by all going on around her, that it wasn't up to her to withstand the devil. The devil had to withstand HER. And that, he can only do, if we let him. So let's not.

Thank you so much for reading. It means so much to me. Really. And please know that I am talking to myself just as much, or possibly more than I am to you. I struggle, and do not, by any stretch of the imagination, have all the answers. If you have a point to make that I did not, or disagree with something, please leave a comment! We are here to help each other grow! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jesus, Others, and You! What a Wonderful Way to Spell Joy!

If you've been keeping up to date with my posts, you know that I am not always as happy and aware of my awesomeness as I should be. And you know what I've learned? You gotta keep your head up.

I know that sounds oversimplified, and maybe it is, but can your say that it won't help? When Paul talked to the Hebrews about the loss they had experienced, you know what he remarked on? They JOYFULLY accepted it. Now, my guess is they weren't actually thrilled to have their "goods plundered," but they made a choice to accept it and see the good in that situation. 

Now some of you might be yelling a tad, saying "There is no good in this situation! Nothing positive can happen. You don't know what happened to me, what I'm going through, what that person did, what the devil is doing..." 

Shut up. 
I grew up in the Church. I've said those same things. And the thing is, that yes, you might be going through something, but who isn't?! So, yes, Shut up.

Now, not to pull out THE MOST OBVIOUS EXAMPLE EVER, but let's look at Jesus, cause He's super cool

1. Lazarus
Jesus' friend DIES, and what does He do? He doesn't stress. He takes His time, going about the things that need to be done. Why? Because He knows that something AWESOME, and also, COMPLETELY NECESSARY is going to come out of this situation. He takes a funeral, and turns it into the best Halloween Party ever. Most life like Ghost/Zombie/Mummy around. But not only does that happen, but He also manages to piss off the Chief Priests and Pharisees, because they see that He is working in miracles, which cause them to call for...

2. A Jesus Man Hunt.
Yep, Jesus took a crappy situation, made the most out of it, and there are now people PLOTTING HIS DEATH. It's almost a little like Final Destination, but not really. At this point, yeah, things aren't looking so good. No matter what He does, people seem to hate Him. (Take note of that. People hated JESUS. Not everyone is going to like you, and that is ok. If everyone did like you, that would be an issue, because you are obviously not the same person to everyone you meet. Be who you are meant to be.)

3. Crucification
We all know what happened. He rose again! Yay. I mean, it is honestly AMAZING, but I think sometimes we kind of minimize what He went through to get to that point. Commentators say He didn't even look human after the beatings He took, BEFORE He hung on the cross. Then He had to hang on a cross, be mocked and humiliated. And after all that, He went to hell, fought, took the keys of Death, Hell, and the Grave, and then He rose again. I got tired just typing it. I know this is painfully obvious, but I would not have made it. Especially if I had the Authority to call down a swarm of angels to take me away. No way. You know what I think made it bearable for Him? Besides the whole, "He's the Son of God"? He understood that the JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH. 

I really believe that Jesus, during all of it, was focusing on the Joy that would come in the morning. I think, that maybe like I do, Jesus focused on the good to distract Him from the horrific. (That good, by the way, is you and me. We are His Joy. Crazy, huh?)

Sometimes, it is really really hard to do. It can be difficult to say, "You know what? I'm glad I was the one in the car accident! If it hadn't of been me, who knows what would have happened? Maybe the other person wouldn't have been wearing a seat belt, and this could have been a much more tragic accident." Or to be thankful that you're the one who is sick. Or to thank God and rejoice in whatever tragedy had occurred. 

Now, I do not pretend to know the obstacles you are up against. I, myself, have had a fairly easy life. But I've seen God do amazing things in the midst of tragedies. Sometimes the amazing thing is that it did happen to a Christian and not an unbeliever. Shocking, I know, but we are not meant for cushy lives. And you know why that's ok? Because we have the Joy of the Lord, which is our Strength, and they do not. So, at the very least, be grateful that this happened to you, someone with the resources to deal with it, instead of the unbeliever who doesn't! 

So, yes, let's continue to ask for prayer in our times of trouble, but let's not loose Faith that He has a plan, that there is something wonderful going to come out of this, and at the very least, be JOYFUL that the devil sees us as enough of a threat to come and try and mess with us! 

Thank you guys so much for reading and passing these along! I am seriously overwhelmed that you guys want to read my ramblings. And if you could see my 5th grade journals, you would understand why. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Frustrations of a Non Denominational...

I recently met a new friend, and it was wonderful. We got along right away, and I wish I had had more time to spend with her! She is a somewhat recent relocated Northerner, now in the Bible Belt. And one of the things we touched on during our short time together, was how frustrating it is to be "Non Denominational."

She said that when people started asking her what she believed/what religion she was, and she answered with, "Oh, I'm non denom," some of the people just could not accept that as an answer. They wanted something concrete. She's a Baptist, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, anything they could easily define and analyze.

I've had similar experiences. Whenever anyone finds out you're a Christian, they almost immediately ask, "Which kind?" And I have always hated that question. For one, I do not have an easy answer.

I could easily go off about how I don't have a religion, I have a relationship, and start spewing Christianese at them. Or I could simply tell them my churches name, and let them draw their own conclusions based off of news reports that don't really represent the church I grew up in at all. I could try to explain to them that I believe what the Bible says, that Jesus came down to save us, not only when we die, but also in our life here on earth. That He is part of my everything, not just my Sundays. I could explain that I believe in the prosperity message, not the one that gets bashed by everyone, but the message that says God wants us to be whole, spirit, soul, and body, and that the financial aspect is the smallest part of it, and looks different for everyone. That I believe in God's healing power, in His Grace and Love. I could tell them the actual miracles that I have seen and witnessed with my own eyes, and told them how my life was never the same. But usually they're just looking for the short answer, and so I tell them I'm non denominational, and they roll their eyes and move on to something else.

The second reason I hate that question, is the fact that even the World sees us as divided. We're supposed to be the Church! Not the fighting families! Are we all going to agree on everything? Good Lord, no! Where would be the fun in that?!  We need each other and our disagreements to grow and stretch us. I know for a fact that there are many things that I do not have down, that another part of the body is excelling at. And I have knowledge of things that will help them! God's revealed parts of Himself to all of us, given us gifts, talents, and callings that only we can walk in, and if we are constantly putting each other down, we're going to miss out on those blessings.

Now, I am not saying that not all doctrine is important. You cannot convince me that healing is not for today, that speaking in tongues was for Acts alone, that we serve a God who is not filled with Mercy, Grace, and Love for us. You just can't. But does that mean that if we disagree, I have the right to put down your church and your faith? NO! While your church may not have the same beliefs as I do, that doesn't mean that your church doesn't have a place in the body of Christ, and that it cannot minister to others, and myself. And I have no idea what my bashing of that church could do to deter someone else from the Message God has for them.

No, this constant bickering back and forth must stop. God called us a BODY for a reason. We need to be united, to support and uplift one another. Because you know when I hear Baptist, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, and all the other ones there are, I don't hear my enemies. I hear the names of my brothers and sisters. And if I'm being a 100% honest, I do not really see what we're all fighting about. Because when I read the Wiki's on you guys, I find myself saying, "Hey, I believe that! I believe that too! Hmm, I've never thought of it that way. Now that I might disagree with, but does it really matter if when God created the earth, it was actually 7 days or the 1000 years to a day? Either way it happened. OH, I believe that too!"

So, can you guys join up with me? Can we support one another in the areas that God has called each of us too, despite our differences? Because I have a feeling we'll get so much more accomplished than we could even begin to imagine.

Thanks for reading you guys! I'm in awe every time I see someone read. Thank you.