Don’t Shrink Back

Don’t Shrink Back

“If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 I don’t think there are many 10-word phrases as powerful as this one. I don’t think there is a better verse to explain the seemingly inexplicable shifts in our society today. The most moving part of President Obama’s last press conference of his career follows and points to the very nature of the verse, the very idea of shrinking back… “This is part of what I meant when I said we’ve got to think what is happening to our political culture here. The Russians can’t change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms. They don’t innovate. But they can impact us if we lose track of who we are. They can impact us if we abandon our values. Mr. Putin can weaken us just like he’s trying to weaken Europe if we start buying into notions that it’s OK to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people because of their faith or what they look like. And what I worry about — more than anything — is the degree to which because of the fierceness of the partisan battle, you start to see certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being OK, because that’s how much we dislike Democrats.” We can not look at the horrific images of a humanitarian crisis coming out of Aleppo and shrink back. We can not read about acts of racism and discrimination and hate against our fellow human beings and shrink back. We can not watch children bully others in the name of a presidential elected official and shrink back. We can not shrink back and overlook evidence of election tampering by another country. We can not shrink back when a cabinet leader position is offered to an individual who oversaw the largest social media platform for the alt right. We can not shrink back when a cabinet leader position is offered to an individual who toasted Putin with champagne. Believers, we can not shrink back when we are moved by the Holy Spirit to speak and to act. We can’t shrink back because we’re worried about what other believers will think of us. We can’t shrink back and hide behind an allegiance to man- made parties and titles and denominations, fearful of stepping away from the fold even when it has lost its way. We can’t shrink back, cowering behind the prideful inability to speak out against blaring discrepancies in our faith’s values because of a vote cast in November. We can’t shrink back into the comforts of tradition when traditions transform into legalism. We can’t shrink back into the marginal shadows, blinded by the spotlights of sin seekers, afraid of being caught in their glaring gaze. We can’t shrink back beneath the familiar blankets of religious  and political conformity, especially when the coverings begin to look less and less like Jesus. We can’t shrink back into archaic man-made roles within the security of our churches’ walls when the Holy Spirit is calling us out into the wilderness places. We can’t shrink back into the shackles and bondage of legalism when the Holy Spirit calls for us to be free. Don’t shrink back! Step out in faith to where the Holy Spirit is leading. Be transformed and renewed in seeking after the things of Jesus, not the things of the...

The Heart of Jesus

The Heart of Jesus

Reflecting on the heart of Jesus today. Jesus did not follow the rules of man but the heart of God. The world said there is not a seat for you at this table. Jesus dined with sinners, sitting among tax collectors and prostitutes. The world said lepers were filthy, unclean outcasts, shunned by society. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper. The world declared the bleeding woman untouchable and unacceptable. Jesus stopped the blood with just one touch of his garment. The world said Samaria was to be avoided at all costs. Jesus passed directly through Samaria. The world said Samaritans were unclean in God’s eyes, and Jews were to have nothing to do with them. Jesus, a Jewish man, spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, witnessing to her and providing her with some of the best testimony in all of the Bible. The world said Gentiles were dangerous because they did not share the same faith and religion. Jesus said otherwise, ministering to the Gentiles, recognizing them as “other sheep…who are not of this fold” and teaching them anyway. The world said condemn, punish, and cast aside the adulterous woman. Jesus said, let her alone and let me. The world said sinners are outside the law of salvation. Jesus, hanging from the cross, whispered, “It is finished.” The world of Jesus fought to protect the dominant faith and culture, keep insiders in and outsiders out, build walls, hang Keep-Out signs, cast aside, avoid, ignore, forget, punish. Jesus said bring them to me. Jesus included the rejected, women, outcasts, foreigners, sinners, the sick, and even lawbreakers. He loved the unloved during a time when the basic theme of religion was to divide, to categorize people into insiders and outsiders, clean and unclean, accepted and rejected, lawful and lawless, worthy and unworthy. Not much has changed. The challenges facing our country today are not much different than Jesus’ time. I will continue to look to Jesus’ heart for the oppressed and marginalized. I will continue to speak out against efforts to return to a time of “us” versus “them” mentality. I will heed Jesus’ words… “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John...

It’s Gonna Be Worth It

Today I woke up disheartened, disillusioned, and dumbfounded. My heart is truly broken. While some may view my reactions as typical side effects of losing, my soul knows otherwise. I watched the beginnings of the election results with my two children, cuddled up with me in bed, my husband with us in spirit as he had to be present at work. The images of their hopeful faces when I put them to bed haunted me as I turned off the television hours later. Dread replaced excited anticipation as I knew I’d be delivering the news of Trump’s win to my two precious children in mere hours. How would I look them in the eye and explain a win for the very things we vilify in our family. How do I explain a win for misogyny, bigotry, hate, slander, disrespect, and intolerance? Because here’s the thing, we placed our hope in a win for Hillary Clinton not because we placed our hope in her, an imperfect, flawed human being, but because we placed our hope in the things her platform embraces: love, unity, kindness, acceptance, tolerance, hope, and decency. We voted for the candidate whose message and conduct most reflected the value messages of our family. My husband and I parent from a place of love and grace. There’s absolutely no room for the rhetoric spewed by Trump during his campaign when you parent from a place of love. There’s no compromising on deal-breakers like unkindness, self-righteous judgement, disrespect, and entitlement in our family. We’ve worked tirelessly to instill empathy and love for others, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, or disabilities. My husband and I have both managed to break cycles of racism which existed in various degrees on both sides of our extended families by teaching our children to value diversity, to look past the outward, physical appearance of a person to his/her heart. We refused to undo the work of almost a decade by walking the tightrope of hypocrisy; teaching our children respect and decency for all humanity at home while supporting a man who showed neither during his campaign. From the first slur to the last words of mockery, we remained unwavering in our decision to vote against Donald Trump. So my feelings of disillusionment and disbelief are not a result of my candidate losing. They’re the outcome of something far more disturbing; the realization others ignored the glaring signs of bigotry and intolerance and fear-mongering which permeated the heart of an entire campaign to cling to party loyalty or single-issue promises. Promises to end abortion, promises to reduce taxes, promises to end big government, promises to kick-start a stagnant economy, promises to protect gun rights. But perhaps the most unsettling are those who voted because of the hate rhetoric. Those who showed up and placed a vote for promises which reflect the dark heart of the campaign. Promises to ban Muslims, promises to kick-out illegal rapist and murderous immigrants (with the implication that all fall into one or both of those categories), promises to build a wall, promises to reverse LGBT-rights legislation. These thoughts made for a very restless night of sleep, but then, somewhere in the early morning, lyrics from various worship songs floated in and out of my mind. And then this one. A song I haven’t really heard or listened to since my mom and dad’s passing. “I don’t understand your ways Oh but I will give you my song. I give you all of my praise. You hold on to all my pain and With it you are pulling me closer, Pulling me into your ways.. Now around every corner, And up every mountain, I’m not looking for crowns Or the water from fountains. I’m desperate in seeking, frantic believing That the sight of your face Is all that I need. I will say to you It’s gonna be worth it, It’s gonna be worth it, It’s gonna be worth it all. There it is right there. With this devastating, hurtful turn in our presidency, I have the opportunity to be pulled closer to God and His ways. This election is not an end to what we can and should be doing as believers, walking in the ways of God, it’s an opportunity to step up our game and do it with a greater fervor than ever before. I started with telling my children the election results. I told them very matter-of-factly who won, without a trace of bitterness or frustration. I told them we will not walk in fear but in trust and faith. I told them we will cling to the...

Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open

On the eve of Election Day 2016, I’m in awe of the realization we may have our very first female president of the United States. My eyes are wide open to what this means for girls and women today and for generations to come. And while I realize a win is not assured and results are over 24 hours away, my eyes are wide open to what this moment means for our country. My eyes are wide open to a movement hundreds of years in the making. I see the timeless work of trailblazers like Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony coming to fruition. I watch as the marginalized make their way to their rightful places at the political tables from which they were once denied a place to sit. Little girls can’t be what they can’t see, and I behold little girls’ dreams expanding to include the new aspiration of being our country’s president. My eyes are wide open to the cross-gender support for our first female presidential candidate. My gaze falls upon men of every age, race, religion, and sexual orientation, working diligently alongside women to make this moment in history a reality. I imagine old doors closing as a woman is openly embraced and entrusted with this position of leadership. I see doors slamming in the faces of inequality, misogyny, and patriarchy. I envision the gag of fear and intimidation being ripped from women’s mouths as they find strength in their own voices, allowing their whispers to become roars. I recognize newfound pride as heads rise up and shoulders straighten, the emboldened steps of women leaving their marks in the sand of time. I discern a renewed hope in humanity as glass ceilings are shattered and the sky literally becomes the limit for our daughters. Regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, my eyes and the eyes of women young and old have been opened. We see the page turning, the pen is to paper, as perhaps, just perhaps, a new chapter in American history is about to be written....

Pro-Life Not Pro-Trump

Are you pro-life but anti-Trump? This article will hit home with anyone who is against Donald Trump but who is also pro-life. Aligning oneself strictly with a party who attaches itself to a prolife platform doesn’t necessarily mean that party follows through on their stance, as the statistics in the article prove. The CDC shows abortion rates to be at their lowest since 1973 under Obama. Rates have dropped every year under his presidency, while historic highs occured during back to back Republican presidencies. Voting Republican does not guarantee the protection of the unborn. As a voice for the voiceless, prolifers need to go beyond the ballot box to the research which shows what effectively reduces abortion rates among women. We also need to hold the people accountable who run on the platform but have no follow-through once in office. Please take a moment to read this article. NC is a battleground state, and the author, a NC resident, makes some very important points....

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