The Wrong Voices

Me posting a picture of my girls smiling together doesn’t make me a good mom.

Me letting my girls play outside without me doesn’t make me a bad mom.

Me saying nice things about someone doesn’t make me a good Christian.

Me having a glass of wine doesn’t make me a bad Christian.

Me making my husband’s favorite cookies doesn’t make me a good wife.

Me disagreeing with my husband doesn’t make me a bad wife.

Me believing the same thing as you about abortion doesn’t make me a good American.

Me voting for a different candidate than you doesn’t make me a bad American.

Me helping a poor person doesn’t make me a good person.

Me not appearing to care about a particular cause doesn’t make me a bad person.

When someone tells me I’m a great mom, I don’t listen. When someone tells me I’m a bad mom, I don’t listen. Their choices or limited knowledge of me don’t make them an expert on my kids. My experience and the fact that God gave them to me make me the expert.

In every part of my life, there are people who would interpret my actions as good or bad. I could listen to them and let my mood be dictated by whatever part of the roller coaster I was just on, but what good would that do me or the world around me? Whether I feel approved of by people or not, I don’t answer to them.

God is the only One able to judge me, because only He knows my heart and intentions. (Sometimes I don’t even know!) Any other approval or disapproval needs to be shaken off and not dwelt on. If I let me ego get big because someone thinks it is great that I came to my child’s school event, I will eventually trip over it. And if I let someone make me feel worthless over my choice of clothing, I will miss my worth in Christ. Both options are bad.

I am approved in Christ. I am accepted and whole in Christ. I am chosen. That is all I need. It is enough.

Linking with Holley Gerth

I Hate to Tell You Jesus Wasn’t Into Politics

The political climate here in the United States this year is uncomfortable on a good day. We are so polarized and family members don’t even want to speak to each other based on beliefs. That makes me very sad. What prompted this post though is people bringing Jesus into it. Y’all, Jesus was not a politician. He hung out with a few tax collectors, but that was as far as it went.

This week I read through all the words of Jesus that we have on record. Do you know what He spoke about? Not politics. He talked about love, faith, forgiveness, mercy, and humility. He talked about how a person, not a government, should act. On both sides of the spectrum, we tend to throw around the idea of Jesus and what He would say or do. We aim it at the other side instead of at ourselves. We act like Jesus would line up with our beliefs and condemn the other side. The truth is Jesus would not be a Democrat or a Republican. He knew that human political systems are flawed and stayed away. When people tried to trip Jesus up, He answered and pointed them to God.

When asked if it is right to pay taxes, Jesus answered, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) He didn’t give a long and drawn out response about taxes but told them to pay it and also give back to God.

When Jesus was condemned and about to be crucified for no reason, Pilate asked Him if He realized he (Pilate) had power over Him. Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:11) Wow. He didn’t start a fight but pointed Pilate to God, even in His darkest moments.

Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus go off on a tangent and shout, “The government should be doing this! It shouldn’t be doing that!” He focused on what each individual can control-their own actions. No, I am not saying that Jesus would think our government is too big or involved, but I do think He would agree that we let the arguing distract and discourage us. We get lulled into thinking the country should be helping the less fortunate, when in reality it is up to us. We can each do more than we are. We can give more time and money to causes. We can reach out to those who need us and be paying attention to those needs instead of assuming the government should do it.

Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world, but He didn’t come to be in charge. He came to serve and to be a leader of servants instead of the leader of a nation or an army. If we want to be more like Jesus, can we please stop talking about it, and start serving alongside Him?

Linking with Holley Gerth

Stop Being Easily Offended!

Another day, another chance to be offended. Why do we let people bother us so easily? Lately I have come to see this issue as a distraction.

This world seems to have gotten crazier with each passing day. We are in each other’s business way too much. I don’t blame social media but I blame us for getting sucked into social media. We see what it is doing to us and don’t try to extract ourselves from the mess. We wallow in it instead. Each of us has a brain and a will of our own. Besides, people have been judging others since the beginning of time.

People are offended by the silliest things too. Why does it matter if a person misuses a word or too in the English language. (Yes that was done on purpose!) What will change in our lives if someone implies we aren’t the best cook and they have had better? The shirt someone is wearing isn’t up to us either. These are all merely distractions.

The problem is that being all in someone else’s life means we are neglecting our own affairs. We are so focused on the major thing we see in their world that we miss the actual gaping hole in our own. I can be doing something so much worse than the next person, but they offended me so badly that I don’t care to correct myself.

I want to be sensitive to right and wrong. No doubt about it. But I can’t change what someone else does. I can only set a good example for them and for my children. I have to choose to show love and forgiveness. I need to be more focused on doing what I can to help others than on a perceived slight.

Feel free to be offended by racism, sexism or any other way a group of people is being put down. But when we are offended by literally everything around us, nothing stands out. If I act upset over every little thing, no one will pay attention to the times it really matters. If I twist someones words to make them sound other than they were intended, I am going to sound ridiculous, not them.

Our words have weight, but only when we use them wisely and sparingly. We have to discern the issues worth fighting for and drop the rest. Something can only offend us if we let it. When we are offended by the person next to us, our rage tends to blind us to anything else. Let’s learn to live in peace and set the example for others.

And please, if you are offended by my words today, go back and reread from the top. This was written for you.

Linking with Holley Gerth

You Are Beautiful

You there. Yes you. I see you. Maybe we don’t always see eye to eye and maybe we do. It doesn’t matter, because you are you. You are unique and special, and I’m not just saying that to be nice. You bring something to the table that I can’t, and I think that is beautiful.

YOU are beautiful.

Don’t let someone tell you anything other than that you are flat out amazing. Don’t let someone define your worth by the color of your skin, the shape of your body, or the type of personality you have.

You are perfectly made, big feet, freckles, a crooked nose and all. There is nothing wrong with you that needs to be changed or made less obvious.

If you try to blend into the background, the world misses out on you. We need your perspective and your experiences. You have no idea how many lives you are changing.

You shine. If you have allowed someone to dim your light, well, turn it back up! Take back your place in this world.

Those people who have treated or judged you unfairly have probably been through something they can’t explain. It doesn’t make it right, but you can make it right by turning the other cheek. You can show them how to love and forgive. Kindness when they don’t deserve it will teach them so much better than hurling angry words that they do deserve.

I know some days you think the world is against you. You assume everyone feels the way that one nasty person feels. That couldn’t be further than the truth. There are always going to be unkind people in the world, but I believe there are so many more who are good and loving. Find them and be one of them.

Whenever you think there is nothing redeeming about yourself, remember that that is a lie. You are you, and no one can take that from you. You are perfectly imperfect, as we all are. Be proud of your scars-the ones people can see and the ones on your heart. They helped make you who you are today and they are what make you beautiful. Never change for someone!

Even if I have never met you, I see you. You are beautiful just the way you are.

Linking with Holley Gerth

If is a Big Word

If we worked on our own marriages as much as we talked about those who are struggling in theirs.

If we taught our children what they need to know as much as we slandered the parenting of others.

If we gave someone the shirt off our backs instead of wondering what they did with their own.

If we offered to help our family members when they need it and didn’t question how this is happening again.

If we really listened to our friends without making to do lists in our minds for later in the day.

If we genuinely smiled at strangers.

If we stopped making assumptions about people’s motives.

If we helped a neighbor without being asked.

If we gave cheerfully to those in need.

If we did all of these things, the world would be a better place. But more than that, people would be drawn to us. They would wonder how we could be kind, giving, helpful, and non-judgmental. They would be curious about this Jesus who lives inside us.

If people saw Jesus in us, they would run to Him with open arms. No one can resist the love and compassion He freely gives. So many are seeking- searching for understanding and a safe place. They can’t find it in this world we live in, so we need to show them where to find it.

Are you with me?

Am I a Pharisee?

Boy, that Jesus. He didn’t mince words. He didn’t hold back when the Pharisees came after Him. And you know they followed Him around, looking for any chance to attack.

So, Mark 7 is one of the times they couldn’t hold back. They got on Jesus for the disciples not washing their hands before eating their bread. (Yes, maybe it was gross, but I certainly wouldn’t have brought it up. Maybe just gagged a little.) The Pharisees were smug looking and sounding, but Jesus shut them down. He told them these hand washing laws are man made, and He accused them of holding to the tradition of men while neglecting the commandments of God. Ouch. Think they looked around to see who heard?

Now, I know there is a great lesson here in getting caught up in our man made rules, but I want to focus more on verses 17-23. What happened next. Jesus tells the disciples that all food is clean and doesn’t defile the body. (And aren’t I glad, because, mmm, bacon.) The things that come out of our heart are what defile us. “It is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come-sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Well, I think that covers just about everything. The Pharisees had come at them for something minuscule, something that really had no consequences. They looked for any behavior they deemed wrong and pounced gleefully. However, Jesus didn’t play that game. He saw their hearts, their motives.

If Jesus were face to face with us today, what would He say? What would He tell us to lay aside so we could focus on the actual problems?

Leave that neighbor’s dating life alone and stop being jealous of her.

Quit judging how much our friend drinks and focus on sins we try to hide from the world.

How about we deal with our own heart issues before we tell someone else what they are doing wrong.

These are tough, convicting ideas, but they are said with love. That was the thing about Jesus. He was a straight shooter and spoke directly, but never to judge. He only lectured the Pharisees (and occasionally the disciples when they acted like children.) His words were genuine and dripping with love. If only we could master that!

Let’s lay aside the judgment of those around us and work on our own lives. Jesus wants our hearts right, and really, that requires all of our focus.

Linking with Holley Gerth

My Social Media Plea

For a day now, thoughts have been swirling around my brain. Hopefully I can piece them together coherently here. I had something else ready for today but felt this was more important. So here goes. Hopefully I won’t lose any friends.

I am a Christian who drinks alcohol. No one who knows me has ever seemed to judge me, but man, when you look at social media, there sure are a lot of judgy Christians bashing each other. One woman even commented that you can’t mix beer and being a Christian. What? Where does this come from? Why do we feel the need to tear other Christians down?

The Bible talks about alcohol, but people throw that around on both sides. “Jesus drank wine, so I can too!” (Everyone did then as the water quality was poor. It was not the same strength as today.) “In Proverbs it warns against drinking!” (Uhh have you seen all the warnings in Proverbs? Especially in regard to finances?)

My point in all of this is that God gave us all this thing called discernment. We are to use our own discretion. I have friends who don’t drink because they have addiction in their family or have abused it in the past. Some just know they wouldn’t be able to control themselves. I have so much respect for these friends and don’t drink around them. They don’t need me tripping them up.

The problem is people take their opinions to social media and slaughter everyone who doesn’t agree with them. It isn’t just seen by fellow believers though. Non Christians are reading too. They are looking for a reason to believe. They want to see what we are like and how we are different. They are searching for goodness and mercy. Instead they often see us judging each other. We mercilessly devour others and then stand there acting holier than thou.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking it doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have a problem with Christians drinking or aren’t on social media. Really, though, this does affect us all. Have you ever judged someone for eating too much, thinking they can’t control themselves? Or maybe you have seen someone ask for money, but you assume they just want a handout and aren’t willing to work. And don’t get me started on how we judge other parents….But none of us know what someone is going through and what is in their heart. We aren’t God.

We can all twist the Bible into what we want the words to mean. We can all be legalistic and notice when someone else isn’t checking off all the rules we think they should live by. Let’s do our best to stop this nonsense. The important thing is to not turn people away from a relationship with God. Our words and actions should show people about our loving God and not repel them.

Bottom line is that we shouldn’t be saying things on social media that we wouldn’t say to someone’s face. If we say we are Christians, how about we act like Christ. Pour out love and leave the condemnation out of the conversation. Be kind and not judgmental. If we are discussing something on Facebook, let’s remember it isn’t just other Christians reading it. Someone is searching and may need conviction, but not from us. Let’s leave that in the right Hands.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Choose to Love

Reading in 1 Corinthians the other day, I was struck by Paul’s words.

“When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do every thing to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. (1 Cor 9:20-23)

If only we would all follow in Paul’s footsteps. He didn’t see customs as right or wrong and instead saw people who need love. He made every effort to find common ground with everyone.

What if we didn’t judge people? What if we sat down with a person who had a completely different background and asked about their life? What if we looked someone in the eye who dressed more provocatively than us and showed we respected them? What if we gave food to a homeless person as we smiled and shook their hand?

I love how one version says in verse 21 “I agree with them (Gentiles) as much as I can.” Paul isn’t saying to do anything God would disapprove of. He is saying we should enter people’s world and talk to them on whatever level they are on. Whatever they are doing or have done, people were created by God. He created us to be in a community and to rely on each other.

No one is going to become a Christian when the Christians they know are self righteous arrogant jerks who forget they are sinners. They will come to know Christ when we show them the love they deserve.

So the next time we are tempted to judge or condemn someone, we should figure out what we have in common. We should focus on all the ways we are the same. Maybe then we can tear down walls and misconceptions.

Let’s choose to love.

Linking with Faith Along the Way