Friday, March 29, 2013

You Don’t Go To Hell for Being Gay

I feel like I’m living the Chick-Fil-A nightmare all over again.

Remember that? When hundreds of people went and stood in line for hours to buy a chicken sandwich to protest against homosexuality?

And I remember thinking “I wonder how many of those people will actually go and talk with someone who is gay this week? This month? This year? This decade? Hear their story, welcome them into their life? Love them? Share the gospel?” I’m guessing not a lot. I don’t know? I didn’t stand in line. If you did, tell me . . . how many of you have engaged in a conversation with someone who is gay since standing in that line?

Then this week, I scroll through Facebook and I see this:


And I just wish it would stop.

Because every time I see it, I think we keep dividing, we keep judging, we keep hating, we keep pointing the finger, we keep drawing the line in the sand of “you’re in and you’re out” and it breaks my heart.

I sat with a friend just a few weeks ago who is considering the things of Christ and asked her “what is the biggest obstacle preventing you from taking that step and placing your faith in Christ?”

Her answer: “I guess I just really struggle in knowing that Christians believe you’ll go to hell for being gay.”

And my heart split in two.
Because you know what Church?? That’s what people see. That’s where we’ve drawn the line in the sand. And it grieves me.

Because that’s NOT where Jesus drew the line in the sand. I struggled even writing this post today, on Good Friday, because I don’t want to take away from what we should really be meditating on.

But the reality is, today changes everything. When you understand today as a gift, a sacrificial gift, a death that we should’ve died, everything changes. Jesus becomes our hero!

God is a Rescuer. The reality is we’re all headed toward an eternity apart from our Heavenly Father because at some point in our life, we’ve rejected this gift.

When I understood that message for the first time, everything changed. I didn’t care about my sexuality, my possessions, my relationships, my career, my status, my looks, etc. I cared about knowing my Hero, my Savior, my Sacrifice, my King. I realized that I had my own understanding and my own way of doing life against the LORD’s, and that is the sin that leads to eternal separation from God.

And we still do the same today. We reject Christ by choosing our own way. By thinking that the God shaped hole in hearts can be filled by something else (sex, drugs, relationships, money, stuff, etc.) We’ve rejected it by exalting our understanding over the Living God’s. “I don’t like it so I won’t believe.”

So what if we started viewing the line in the sand that way? Not us vs. them, or gay vs. straight, or Muslim vs. Jew, but mankind vs. God, and God wins. He breaks the barrier down with The Cross and invites ALL to come. He invites us to His side through His death, the sacrifice of His son, the blood of the Lamb, and welcomes us freely.

That’s what today is all about. I used to be offended when people told me I was a “sinner” or “don’t you know Jesus died for you?” because I didn’t understand. I was a “good person” and who are these churchy people telling me I am going to hell?!

It wasn’t until I stopped listening to “churchy” people and started to get to know Jesus that I understood. I read about who this man was, the historicity of His life and death, and couldn’t deny the evidence anymore. And realized what they had been saying was true (though probably could’ve been said in a much better way).

So on this Good Friday, I hope you consider why this day is good. Because it’s the day when Love changed everything. It’s the day that represents ALL of the lines in the sand becoming a blur, all of our sin being blotted out, and the Door being opened to walk in right relationship with our Creator . . . forever.

To the broken, the lost, the hurting, the outcast, the confused, can I encourage you to look to Jesus? He is the answer.

To the Church, can I encourage to stop drawing lines in the sand and start building relationships with people who are not like you?

If there’s any stance I want to take for my faith in Christ, it’s the stance of LOVE. The stance of surrender to Good Friday, freedom to walk in the Hope that comes on Sunday, and a life that openly proclaims that message to any around.

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3-5)

"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

Because really that's the gospel. The good news is that we don't have to live in torment, loneliness, guilt, shame, struggle, or oppression. Jesus died and conquered all of that. We just have to embrace it. We win by losing.

"Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ladies, Why Do We Do This?

Lately there has been a gnawing, a stirring, a thought that I just can't get over.

And I think I can sum it up in one word:


Ladies . . . why do we do this??

Why do we feel like if we don't measure up to Sally, Susie, or Sandy then we're lame, less than, or losers?

I promise there is no place I feel more insecure and inadequate than in the kitchen. I feel like to be a REAL woman you have to cook instagram worthy dinners and bake "just for fun".

I don't speak that language. I would be happy eating bean burritos every night for dinner. I literally overcooked chicken by an hour (on accident) 2 days ago and have baked maybe 5 times in my whole life (and by bake I mean dumping the brownie mix in a bowl, cracking an egg, and throwing it in the oven).

Or I get the "Oh you'll see once you have children." or "You can't really understand the love of God until you have children." Really?! Dang. Stuck on junior varsity I guess. And I compare and feel like less of woman because I can't bake or don't have children.

But it doesn't just happen in the kitchen. It doesn't just happen at work, or in the neighborhood, or at the gym.

It happens in church. And this is where my heavy burden comes in.


Why do we compare clothes, families, husbands, cars, homes or whatever and let it place value or worth on our lives?
Why do we compare ministries and feel better than or less than?
Why do we compare giftings and callings and exalt one over the other?

And then Beth Moore & Jennie Allen go ahead and write the words that have been stirring in my mind and breaking my heart these past few weeks:

Living Proof Blog
Jennie Allen's Blog

I have felt such a burden lately because I read great challenging books that call me to reject my comfortable, Christianity is just for Sundays, type of life. But then afterwords, I'm not left with a challenge, I'm left with guilt.

When I first heard and understood the gospel, you know what words came to mind?


When I'm done reading some of these books, you know what words come to mind?


I have felt such a judgment for living in the suburbs, driving a nice car, and having granite countertops & stainless steal appliances lately. Literally an author quoted that "stainless steel appliances and granite countertops". Why?!?! And the sad thing?? I love the LORD, His word, His people and I feel like a "less than" Christian because of where I live, stuff I have, and what I drive.

And I feel broken over this. And I wonder . . . when did that creep into Christianity? When did all the comparison for how to do church, disciple, live, and love start? When did all the slander against Megachurch pastors become okay? When did the stay at home mom in the suburbs who love's her neighbors become "less than" the mom who is doing the same downtown? When did fighting for a CAUSE become more important than loving CHRIST?

And yes, some of this needs to be said. Some of the ways we do church or spend our money is not glorifying to God. There are children dying of hungry every day and we're spending money left and right on stuff we don't need without blinking an eye. But a lot of it is spoken out of pride to slander and cut down others, to feel better about self. I listen to John 17 and hear Jesus praying "let them be ONE" over and over. Because He knows . . . we will be different, have different opinions, have different callings, live in different neighborhoods, look different, and love different. And that's good! As long as we have unity.

We NEED our ministries to look different, in different places, in different ways. I need my friend who lives downtown to remind me of God's heart for the poor. I need my friend who is in the process of adopting her 5th child to remind me of God's heart for the orphan. I need my friend who loves God's word to remind me to spend time abiding and meditating on truth. I need my friend who loves the outcast to remind me of God's love for the marginalized. I need that! But I don't need to take on their callings and passions as my own if the LORD isn't asking that of me. Perhaps my calling is different?

If we all live the same, look the same, and reach the same people how is that carrying out the Great Commission to make disciples wherever you are???

I wonder if there's a reasons God's commands say "Love God and love your neighbor" without a specific neighborhood. OR
"Go and make disciples" without a specific formula?

Perhaps because we as "religious" people love to turn this into (as Jennie Allen would say) the "new legalism". Adding to God's word, expecting other people's walk with Christ to look just like yours, otherwise they're probably not even a true disciple. We play the game of who can be more "radical" and then judge each other and compare.

Man that must grieve the LORD . . . when we are constantly looking at one another comparing and feeling defeated rather than looking at Jesus and feeling humbled and thankful.

I think about the Great Commandment, The Great Commission, and Jesus words in Matthew 6-7 & Matthew 11 and I find rest and peace. I fight DAILY to live for an audience of ONE and beg the LORD to help me keep laser beam focus on Him and His Kingdom. And it's a battle.

So I hope that wherever the LORD has you, you're living on mission. I hope whatever he has you doing (changing diapers in the suburbs or starting ministries downtown) you're doing it faithfully and with joy.

Most of all, let's find a way to stop comparing and competing, and find a way to challenge without condemning and love without judging.

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 6:1)

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:36-38)

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why I'm Selling My Possessions

If you’ve been to our house, you know we don’t have a lot of “stuff”. Our house is clutter free, pretty clean, not a lot knick-knacks, etc.

We’re secret minimalists. If I could have it my way, our fridge would always be empty, the closets clean, and we would not have one item in our house we don’t need or use. I love the philosophy of simple living, and have been trying to convince Santino that we should sell all of our stuff and move into the trailer park near our church to REALLY simplify. You can imagine how that conversation went!

Last year around this time, I learned that Americans waste about 40% of their food. Meaning we throw out leftovers, we buy produce that rots before we use it and then throw it away, etc. That statistic frustrated me! I started examining our grocery bills and food waste, and saw that we were part of the problem. I stopped buying food we didn’t need, started making our own granola bars for breakfast, wouldn’t cook a new dinner until all the leftovers were gone, etc. (We even have survival week in our house sometimes- I don’t go grocery shopping and we have to make dinners based on the food we already have in our house! I could write another blog on some of our very weird (and creative) dinners!).

And most people I talk to have said “oh I could never do that. We don’t really like leftovers. I like variety. Don’t you get sick of eating the same dinner 3 nights in a row? Well sometimes, yes! But I started thinking about every time I threw food away, it was like throwing $$ in my trash can. It was wasteful and bad stewardship.

Needless to say . . . I hate wasting food. And I hate having things in my house that I don’t use, that others might need or use. So, recently a friend added me to a local Facebook resale page (thanks Layla for starting this!) where you can post items and sell them to friends or friends of friends, and it’s my new obsession!

I absolutely love cleaning and purging things in my house! I have sold left over wedding favors, baking utensils I never used, home decor I was using but didn’t need, bedding, books, clothes, etc. Really if it’s something I haven’t used or worn in the past year, or something I didn’t need, I listed it for sale.

And in just 2 1/2 weeks, I’ve made over $700! My finance/budget minded husband is loving my new hobby! You see, I took a huge pay cut when I stopped teaching full-time, and started to work as volunteer staff at our church 20 hours a week. Not only did I take a pay cut, but my spending went up because I meet people for lunch/coffee nearly every day of the week. So each time I sold an item for $5 I thought, I just made $$ for another coffee date!

(*Bonus side note: we've racked up medical bills through doctor visits/surgeries in trying to find answers for our infertility, and God has provided and covered our bills this month and more!)

All of that to say, we are selling our possessions most of all to simplify. We just don’t need 8 cocktail glasses that I registered for when we got married that have been sitting in our cabinets for almost 7 years, never used. We don’t need to keep that hand mixer around “just in case I need it” in the future. We certainly don’t need 3 vacuums, or 5 table runners, or 22 pairs of earrings, or 10 purses, or 5 dresses I haven’t worn in 2 years . . . see what I mean?

So I’m selling because it’s stuff we don’t need. We like it, we may even be using it, but we don’t need it. I'm not selling because we're hard up for cash, or we want to buy a boat, but because we can do with a lot less.

I’m selling because I want to be consumed with treasures in heaven.

I’m selling to live in simplicity.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

“She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.” (Proverbs 31:18)

PS I do have a small investment idea that I’m thinking about based on Luke 19, but I’ll share that with you guys on another day . . . stay tuned. {The Mina Project}