Category: Blog

headshotBy Ricki Allen

Back in the year 2000, a movie came out staring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg called The Perfect Storm. It was an adaptation of a book written in the late 90’s, about a crew of fishermen who went from not catching any fish, to catching way more than they bargained for. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well for the captain and his crew. The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, if not for the courage of the fearless crew… Hang on, different story entirely – but did you sing that last bit? You’re welcome. The theme song from Gilligan’s Island will likely be stuck on mental repeat for the rest of the day. As soon as you think it’s gone, I’m betting you’ll start wondering how it was that Ginger always remained so well put together. I mean really, her make-up was flawless and her hair was seemingly immune to humidity. When I think back to how I looked on the last camping trip with my husband, I gotta tell you, there’s a reason this girl’s no movie star. Let’s get back on point: fisherman, boat, hurricane…the perfect storm.

While I’m not an avid fisherwoman, lately my life has mirrored that movie a bit more than I would like. As 2015 came to a close, my husband got promoted at work and I took a new job which promised to be great. While in the midst of us both learning our new roles professionally, we rang in the new year. Yippee. Cue the streamers. Shortly after tossing out the old calendar and finally remembering to type 2016, I got a call from my husband that he and my 16-year-old son had been in a car accident. Arriving at the scene and seeing all the emergency lights flashing was surreal and more than a little scary. Thankfully they were okay, but our car was totaled. But the hits just kept coming – like they literally kept coming – as in a total of four car accidents in a three-month period. How is that even possible? I have no idea. A better question might be: how are we still insured?

What a tremendously inconvenient and crazy stretch! After the second accident, I found myself thinking, “Wow. Surely this is the end of it.” After the next one, a friend reminded me that bad things come in three’s, so our luck should be turning. Yeah…I’m here to tell you that as well-meaning as she may have been, the old wife that told that tale wasn’t being entirely honest. After the fourth accident, my husband and I just looked at each other speechless. Ever a fan of silver linings, I had definitely been on the lookout for something shiny that wasn’t car parts and broken glass strewn across the street. Sure enough, there was a bright side to be found! Along with my new job came a pay increase. Boom – silver lining. We had a little more income to help offset the expenses and the addition of a car payment…not to mention our new and improved insurance premium. Sigh of relief: the storm was finally calming.

If you are an avid reader like me, or you enjoy watching movies, you will likely agree that any good story has its fair share of twists and turns. Let’s be honest, in real life things would be a bit boring if entirely predictable. However, there can come a point where one waves the white flag of surrender. That moment came for me when I received word that my company lost a big account and that I was being laid off. You know when it’s really hot out and you can see what looks like a shimmering stream of water running across the road ahead? Yeah, it was like that: my silver lining turned out to be a mirage.

Are you beginning to wonder if I was clear about how things normally go, in that guest bloggers are generally expected to write something encouraging? Believe me, I am on the same page. In the midst of a world turned upside down, I debated bowing out and waiting for a time when life was moving more smoothly, making it easier to write something lighthearted and fun. But you know what? Sometimes life isn’t fun. The truth is that life is often messy and at times can be downright frustrating! So why is it that I felt I had to put off writing for another day? Probably for the same reason so many of us feel like we have to smile and give the standard, “I’m great!” during times when our insides are in knots, our hearts are broken, and the smile on our faces is painfully forced.

There’s a line in a song that says, “Everybody hurts sometimes.” I find that simple, yet profound and oh, so very true! In the Christian world, I think many of us feel that we are not allowed to have a bad day. In the midst of that rough day (or week) that something is horribly wrong if we find ourselves feeling like we can’t take one more thing; if the storm appears to be getting the better of us. If it’s true that we all hurt, as R.E.M. so eloquently proposed, then why are so many of us under the impression that we must keep our masks firmly in place? Psalm 103:14 assures us that the Lord knows our frame, that we are but dust. That tells me that while we may be able to fool our classmates or that gal at the office, the One who knows us best isn’t buying it. He knew that we were going to have struggles and that this life would bring troubled waters and during those times, His expectation isn’t for us to pretend all is well. Frankly, it’s exhausting. Furthermore, when we attempt to keep up that charade, I believe that we rob ourselves of something far greater. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we walk around dejected, bemoaning every challenge that comes our way, but rather that we reach out to others and lean on one another when we are overwhelmed.

The Bible is full of examples of how people deal with the storms that crash in on them. When Jonah disobeys, hops a boat to Tarshish and eventually winds up getting tossed overboard to calm the tempestuous sea, God saves him via the belly of the whale. When the disciples are caught in a storm with waves threatening to capsize their boat and they are overcome with fear, the Lord spoke and caused the winds to die down and the sea to calm. Jonah definitely got the messier deal there, but in both instances the Lord rescued his people when they called out to him. But what happens when we don’t get the miraculous solution to life’s dilemmas?

In Exodus, we watch Moses grow into a remarkable leader. I mean seriously, that guy did everything from receiving the ten commandments to dealing with a rather testy Pharaoh who was none too happy with what had become a substandard water supply, along with an infestation of unsightly critters, skin conditions…those plagues were no joke. Fast forward past manna from heaven and a rock springing forth with enough water to quench everyone’s thirst, and we find the people of Israel facing off against one of their greatest enemies, the Amalekites. Moses sends Joshua and his men off to battle while he stands on a hill holding the staff of God. When he held it high, the Israelites prevailed, but when he lowered his hands, the tables turned. Sheesh, no pressure there. If you’ve ever had to hold a position for any length of time, then you can imagine the feeling as the weariness set in. Did Moses pretend he was fine and just push through alone? Nope. A sage guy like Moses knew he needed to rely on the Lord and on others. Aaron and Hur got him a rock to sit on and they each took a side and held his arms up, sharing the burden until sunset.

It would be fantastic if as you read this today you find yourself perplexed, thinking: wow, I have no idea what she’s talking about – my life is an amazing anxiety-free utopia. However, in the event that you find yourself in the midst of a gale, I implore you to let your guard down and allow someone else to help shoulder the load. I’ll leave you with this: “Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his companion: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has no one to help him up…a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 

 

about-debby: Dr. Deb Waterbury

For any of you who know me, you are aware that I am a lover of dogs—big dogs. I grew up with a King St. Bernard named Moochie, and since then I’ve owned a black Lab, a yellow Lab, a Golden Retriever, and two Great Danes. Currently my husband and I are the proud parents of a feisty toy Yorkie named Levi and a massive 220 pound Great Dane named Hattie. We got Levi first, but he claimed my husband as his almost immediately. Shortly after, I got Hattie when she was eight weeks old, and she has been my baby ever since.

Even as I write this, her massive head is lying in my lap. I do love her so.

However, just given the plethora of animals I’ve owned myself, it’s a proven fact that most of us outlive our pets, which means that as pet owners, chances are that each of us has had to say good-bye to them at one time or another. This morning a dear friend of mine wrote me to ask for prayers because she and her children are going to have to say good-bye to their sweet dog. It’s heartbreaking, and for those of us who have gone through such a horrible process, their deaths are painfully hard.

More than once I’ve had women ask me if we will see our pets again in heaven. This is such a good and important question. Our pets are a part of our families; so naturally, we want to know if we will get to see them again. I believe that we will. As a matter of fact, I believe that the bible clearly supports that we will. I believe with my entire heart (and based on much biblical research) that I will be surrounded with my big babies for eternity, along with all of my believing family and friends. If you are a Christian and have had pets you have had to bid farewell to on this earth, then I also believe that you will see them again in heaven.

Wonderfully, I’m not alone in this belief. Many theologians agree with me and have written excellent resources on just this subject. Why, even John Wesley wrote the following when speaking of our pets:

 

“Something better remains after death for these poor creatures …

that these, likewise, shall one day be delivered from this bondage of corruption,

and shall then receive an ample amends for all their present sufferings.”

(Wesley, John, The Works of Reverend John Wesley, A.M. Vol 2 of 7,

Forgotten Books, 1912, p. 56)

 

John Piper wrote the following poem when speaking of eternity:

 

And as I knelt beside the brook

To drink eternal life, I took

A glance across the golden grass,

And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast

As she could come. She leaped the stream—

Almost—and what a happy gleam

Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,

And knew that I was on the brink

Of endless joy. And everywhere

I turned I saw a wonder there.

(Piper, John, “Glorified,” http://www.desiringgod.org/poems/glorified)

 

How can Mr. Wesley and Mr. Piper and countless other acclaimed and well-known theologians make such a claim?

First of all, I think it important to point out that Christ did not die for our pets, at least not in the way He died for mankind. People are made in the image of God. Christians are partakers in His divine glory and have been redeemed by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our sins have been forgiven by this act of propitiation. Animals are not people, so they don’t need a redeemer in the same way.

However, having said that, I also think that Jesus did die for animals in an indirect sense. According to Romans 8, we know that Christ’s death for humanity purchased redemption for everything created, since everything created was brought down due to the sin of mankind. Romans 8:21-23 tells us,

The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (ESV, emphasis added)

These verses indicate that our resurrection and the redemption of our bodies bought by the sacrificial blood of Jesus will extend to all creation. What Paul is saying is that on the New Earth after our resurrection, the animals who once suffered because of the fall of man and the “groanings of the earth” will be joined with us for all eternity, enjoying the glorious redemption of perfection brought to us in eternity with our Lord.

There are so many passages that speak to God both bringing judgment and blessings on men and animals because of man’s sins and respectively, because of God’s grace. (Exodus 9:22-25; Jeremiah 7:20; 21:16; Ezekiel 14:12-13, 17; Deuteronomy 7:13-14; 28:1-4)

Likewise, John the Baptist testified in Luke 3:6, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  The Greek word here translated as “flesh” is sarx, which is inclusive of all flesh, not exclusive to just mean mankind. “All flesh” includes animals. In essence, then, this great prophet was saying that mankind and animals will see the coming redemptive earth.

One of my favorites, though, is how the psalmist exclaims the relationship between God and His created in Psalm 104. In verse 24 of that psalm, the psalmist sings, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Then he goes on to talk about the animals and all created life—sea creatures, birds, mammals—exclaiming how all are fed and cared for by their Creator. But then in verses 29 he says, “When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” To which he follows in verse 30 with, “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” To “renew the face of the ground” is to re-create. The psalmist is crying out that God will also renew the animals when He redeems the Created, which fully makes sense!

Truly, the Creator could very well intend to make new animals when He redeems the earth, but that doesn’t follow either with His character as a loving and generous Lord or His clear intention to renew that which was already created. Besides, He created us with spirits that have the propensity to be emotionally fed by our pets. We love them, not in place of humans, but in addition to our human relationships. Our pets bring us companionship and joy and unadulterated love. They are committed to us in our darkest and most profoundly sad moments, and they are there to pounce around in unwavering joy when we are exploding in happiness. God did that! And He does nothing accidentally!

Therefore, since we can see that the bible plainly states that both mankind and animals will be renewed in the New Earth, and we also know that God gave us some animals to be special to us purposefully in His great love, doesn’t it follow that our kind and loving Father will bring those relationships into our eternity? I believe with everything in me that this is the truth. My sweet, enormous, ridiculously silly Hattie will be with me in paradise, along with Levi and Moochie and Harley and Champ and Charlie and Chelsea. I’ll see them all there, and I believe you will see your beloved animals, too.

We serve a God of love who purposefully gave us both human and animal relationships to enjoy on this earth. Jesus will return and renew all of creation that “groans” under the curse of sin, and that includes our wonderful pets. So love them now, knowing that good-bye is only temporary. You will see them again.

How awesome to be loved by so great a God as our God!!

And how wonderful to know that this big love will be with me in paradise!!!

Deb and Hattie 2

 

 

_________________________________

**One of my favorite resources when teaching on heaven and the truths the bible proclaims is the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I can’t recommend this book enough for those who are struggling with what to believe about the hereafter and how it accords with the Word of God.

_________________________________

Dr. Deb Waterbury is the President and CEO of Love Everlasting Ministries. In her desire to spread the truth that all Christian women share an intimate relationship with Christ as their Bridegroom while “Breaking the Barriers of Isolation” that often plagues these same women, Dr. Waterbury travels extensively, both nationally and abroad, leading conferences and teaching seminars at every opportunity.  She has a special heart for the people of Africa, devoting much of her year to speaking in several countries there. Dr. Waterbury also spends a great deal of her time writing both curriculum for study in the areas of her passion as well as allegorical novels representing the believer’s journey in realizing her position as the chosen bride of Jesus Christ.  Her series, The Painted Window Trilogy, has changed the lives of countless women as they come to that beautiful understanding of the truth of their relationship with Christ.  She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Jeff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CALLEN_PHOTOS-21By Sarah Callen

Have you ever met one of those people who is the epitome of freedom? They don’t care what other people think and don’t seem to be phased by what happens to them, but continue to go forward with almost reckless abandon? I’m not one of those people. I would like to be, but I am far from their level of freedom. I have a comfort zone, a routine, to which I have grown accustomed and like to maintain. Interestingly enough, the most free people I know are those who are very close to God, intimately tuned into his voice, and actively seeking his face. The most free people I know have trusted God through good and bad, displaying an awe-inspiring amount of faith. Trusting God is great in theory, until he asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. So, what do you do when his direction or instruction flies in the face of your instincts?

 

All of our favorite Bible characters navigated through this same internal struggle. Let’s look at Moses. God told him that he would be used to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. What a ridiculous notion! Then, after they had been rescued from their oppressors, God sustained his people through miracles as they wandered about in the desert. God’s instructions to Moses were ridiculous, but he obeyed, why? It wasn’t because he was being forced or coerced into submission. Moses obeyed because he knew God. He knew His voice and character, making obedience a no-brainer. So why do we struggle so often with following God’s instructions?

 

I want you to think about a time when God has told you to do something. It could be going and speaking to someone, forgiving someone who hurt you, quitting something or starting something new, or a thousand other things. Do you have yours in mind? I have mine. Now, how does that instruction or direction make you feel? Now, that’s a strange question coming from me, I’m not one to talk about feelings often, but I’m learning that there’s value to this type of self-assessment. I think two of the main responses can be: fear or freedom. I think your reaction depends wholly on your perspective. Let me say it another way, your response to obedience reveals your view of God.

 

The Bible says that God is love, it’s not that he can love or he loves well, but he is the very definition of love. The Bible also says that perfect Love casts out all fear, meaning that fear cannot exist in the same space as perfect love. When a frightening directive is given by God and your focus is on the directive and yourself (i.e. a selfish perspective), the natural result is fear. But when you focus on the one giving the command, it can be a freeing experience.

 

Most of the time, I take the selfish road, as I am a very selfish individual. But the interesting thing is that this perspective always leads to my detriment. By focusing on myself and how God’s word effects me it causes me to operate in a place of fear. But, when I change my perspective and focus on God, my response changes. When I know that God loves me and is always looking out for me I can trust that his directions are indeed good. I can know that He wants good things for me and will work things together for my benefit and not to my destruction.

 

I don’t know what you’re facing right now, but I know that God is good. Every time I have entered into a period of transition or stepped into something scary, God has pulled through and, despite all the bumps in the road, I’ve come out better on the other side. And I believe he will do the same for you. If you’re frighted by that next step He’s telling you to take, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to react with fear, but you can’t stay there. When fear begins to creep in, whispering in your ear to run away or hide, change your perspective and focus on the One who is speaking to you and leading you.

 

I’m not writing this because I have mastered this or because I have this all figured out. I’m writing this because I’m in the middle of it right now. What God is telling me to do scares me and I have to daily, sometimes hourly, shift my focus to the Lord and off my situation. I’m asking you to join me on this faith walk as we continue to move toward God and away from ourselves.

 

A simple shift in perspective can change everything. I’m willing to humble myself and change my thinking, are you?

 

 

Sarah was raised in Tucson, Arizona, but now lives in Dallas, Texas. She currently works a 9-5 job, but in her spare time she loves to write, paint, draw, and sing. More importantly, she wants to help people receive hope when they feel like they have none.
Sarah:  “I believe every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.”

 

Sarah’s Blog: workinprogressblog.co

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.

 
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.

 
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.

 
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.

 
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.

 
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.

 
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.

 
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:

 
In all things the greatest of these is love.

 
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.

 
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.

 

Deb Blue 5x7 tighter cropBy Dr. Deb Waterbury

We’ve all done it.  We’ve all invested time and energy into someone or something and then come to the horrible conclusion that nothing is changing.  Nothing we seem to do or say helps them or changes them or even seems to reach them.

When is it enough?  When do we stop hoping, stop trying…stop praying?

The answer is never.  Well, at least that’s the answer if you’re a Christian.

The truth is that we never stop.  Charles Spurgeon said,

spurgeon quote 2

We pretty much need to take on a snail’s view of prayer, too.  Slow and steady, moving ever forward and trusting that the finish line is ahead, even if we don’t know how long it is going to take or how far it is ahead.

No matter how painful and useless our prayers and our efforts seem, God never gives us a pass on this one.  As a matter of fact, the very act of persevering in our prayers and in our efforts is exactly what our Father requires of us.  And we are to do so with absolutely no time constraints on either how or when He will choose to act.

No joke.  This isn’t easy, but it is a fact.  It has been said that a Christian is the only person on the planet who willingly sacrifices her present on the altar of her future.  We have to do that on behalf of others, too.

This is often so hard as parents.  It’s so hard to pray and pray and pray for our children, especially when they are in some sort of rebellion, and then just keep on praying as days and months and years go by with no change.  Often it even seems to get worse.  It’s certainly not that we want to stop praying; it’s more that we can get discouraged with God.

Why doesn’t He act?  What is He waiting on?

These are difficult questions, and it gets increasingly difficult to persevere when nothing we say seems to make a difference.

I’ve experienced this with my own children, and I’ve often experienced it with the women I counsel.  I get so downtrodden and frustrated with the lack of improvement.  Eventually, I have to fight the urge to simply give up.

Yeah, I’ve wanted to give up plenty of times.  There have been times when I saw a woman for years, every single week, telling her the same things and watching her heed not one of my words.  I would think about changing what I told her.  I would think about giving up, letting her go, telling her that our time had come to an end and that there was nothing else I could do for her.  I’d get angry and frustrated and fight the drudgery of seeing her again and again, having the same conversations over and over.

Do you ever feel this way with others?  With your children?

A friend and I were discussing this very issue the other day, and the example the Lord brought to my mind were His people, the Israelites.  When God delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians, He simply told them to go out into the desert.  They would wander from place to place, knowing that the promise was for their land, but they never got much clarity about when they would receive it.  The Lord only told them that they would get to it, but in the meantime, they were to keep walking.

“Just keep walking,” He told them.  “I will bring you into the Promised Land.  I will give you victory over your enemies.  I will protect you as My people.  You are to keep walking.”

As I thought about these exchanges, I thought about how they must have felt.  We can sometimes be so critical of the Israelites.  Indeed, they were a rebellious and fickle people, but aren’t we, too?  I mean, think about it.  They wandered around for forty years!  Sometimes they literally wandered around in circles, in the middle of the desert!

And all that time, God never said, “You will see the Promised Land in twenty-two days,” or in twenty-two years, or in any time frame at all!  God just told them to walk and that He would certainly do the work.

Why do you suppose He didn’t give them His schedule?

I’m pretty sure it’s exactly why He doesn’t give it to you and me either.  If He did, we would begin to rely on the schedule and not on Him.  We would come to expect God to work within the parameters of what we think and what we want rather than just obediently walking where He tells us to walk and then having faith that He will indeed keep His promises.

That, my friends, is faith, and faith is precisely the way we demonstrate our full reliance on a God who has given us everything.

So, we pray.  We persevere for as long as it takes—for decades if necessary—not because we have to do so in order to see the fruit, but because our obedience and faith are how we demonstrate our love of and trust in God.

Why do we never give up?  It’s because the work is not ours to accomplish anyway. Ours is to walk, just like the Israelites, because God has promised in His Word,

God is not a man, that he should lie,

or a son of man, that he should

change his mind.

Has he said, and will he not do it?

Or has he spoken, and will he not

fulfill it? 

(Numbers 23:19, ESV)

Additionally, the writer of Hebrews reminds us,

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,

 for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23, ESV)

So, we keep praying.  We keep testifying, and we never change our proclamation of the Gospel.  In those words are life, and God will do His work—in His time.  There have been occasions where I got to see God move in the women I counselled, even after years, and how marvelous it was to know that I didn’t give up!  But there have been times that I did give up, and you know what?  God still does His work; I simply don’t get the joy of being a part of it.

And with our children?  Sisters, persevere!  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9, ESV)  He will do His work in our children, too.  We do sacrifice our present on the altar of our future, and we do so for our children, as well.

We know that what we see does not determine what will be, and we know that God is right in the middle of what will be Hallelujah!!

Trust Him.  Pray to Him.  Have faith in Him.  Even if it’s hard, hold tight to Him.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:13, ESV)

Why did the snail finish the race?  The same reason we do.  He persevered.

snail crossing finish line

 

 

headshotby: Christian Bonner

Are we drawing people in closer to Christ or pushing them away?

A person I follow on Facebook posted a picture of a well-known Christian book being used to level a piece of furniture with the caption, “I finally found a good use for this book”.

Now I am not here to debate the book itself or if it should be read, but what I want to discuss is what we as Christians do with our freedom of speech and social media.

I get disappointed and alarmed when I see posts like these below:

“IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT I POST TO MY WALL, THERE’S AN UNFRIEND BOTTON RIGHT OVER THERE”!

or

A controversial and antagonizing statement, like the book one I just mentioned, with no explanation, being out of context, and especially inappropriate use of Scripture.

and

Articles being used to call out a long list of teachers/musicians with a very sarcastic comment about heresy, but are actually a few years old.

Also, I recently saw the following statement on a meme on a fellow Christian’s wall:

“IF YOU EVER FEEL STUPID…JUST REMEMBER, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY THINK __________ WOULD BE A GOOD PRESIDENT”.

If after reading the above and you are still a little unsure why I get disappointed and alarmed please allow me to explain. To me, it seems like Christians are getting more and more aggressive in expressing themselves, especially with each other. Almost as if kindness, understanding, and grace have gone right out the window, while still demanding it for ourselves.

I fully support being bold in our faith and with each other.  As a matter of fact, here are a few places in the Bible that either encourage us to be, or tell of someone being bold:

2 Corinthians 10:1- “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.”

2 Corinthians 3:12- “Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech.”

Psalm 138:3- “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”

Proverbs 28:1- “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

Acts 28:31-“proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

And Philippians 1:20 says, “according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or by death.”

I like all of these scriptures and the variety of angles that boldness can take place in our lives. But I think somewhere along the line we confused boldness with aggression.

Miriam Webster defines bold as: not afraid of danger or difficult situations

And  aggressive as: ready and willing to fight, argue, etc.: feeling or showing aggression-using forceful methods to succeed or to do something

Boldness is not being afraid of difficult situations, but it definitely is not creating them either!

I also think in addition to confusing the two, we have forgotten to use what I call a Biblical filter.  Please hear me, this filter in no way should be used to water down the truth.

Like I said before, we are to be bold in our faith, but how about asking ourselves, “is what I want to say/do going to draw others to Christ, drag them in, or completely push them away”?

I understand we shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells to be bold, but when did being bold turn into aggression?

When did assuming that we all have this amazing knowledge occur, leaving no more room for grace?

How can we preach to the unsaved that God forgives all, that there is hope, and it doesn’t matter what you did, but then turn on our fellow believers with such aggression that makes the unsaved scared to come in?

As a matter of fact a family friend that is not a Christian posted a pretty intense post against Christians in response to some reactions to a recent ruling. One of the sentences she wrote says, “The amount of hatred I’ve seen on my timeline this past week is literally scary.”

Personally, I have never been drawn into someone when they are being rude, aggressive, or demeaning, why would others be? Even in our permitted ability to express our opinions, they should be expressed as just that, opinion, not fact and definitely not something that makes people feel terrible or afraid to disagree if they fall into the category of your negative opinion.

Here is what I know:

We are meant to study the Word. 2 Timothy 2:15 states, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth..”

We are to be open to correction. Proverbs 10:17 says, “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who hates correction goes astray.”

We are to teach and be taught. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

And

2 Timothy 2:23-26 say, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will”.

In my opinion, those last verses describe perfectly how we are to execute the above as Christians:

We are in a place of leadership and constant example, whether we or interacting in person with our friends, in full time in ministry, or are stay at home moms using social media to connect to the “outside” world. My “friends” that see my posts, when I choose to make any statement, I am leading them, whether that is my intent or not. If we wear the title of Christian, we are responsible for what we say and do and it should always draw people closer to the Lord, not push them away. The Bible says we are a light to the world and an example to other believers.

Philippians 2: 14-15 says, “ Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”.

And

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

We need to work diligently to become who Christ has designed us to be.

But if a fellow believer is struggling or misunderstands something, we should walk alongside them, in love and grace. Love and grace do not eliminate the responsibility as Christians to be bold with each other but it certainly does invite us into a safe place to learn, repent and grow. And in regards to an un-believer, our treatment to them, direct or not, is just as valuable as it is to each other.

My friends, please remember to be humble in how we live out our boldness of faith. If what we do doesn’t draw people in, then it is a waste.   Weren’t we originally drawn in with Christ’s gentleness and love?