Tag Archives: christianity

When The Case For Christ Isn’t Enough – Warning: Movie Spoiler Alert

Standard

hqdefaultweb3-preach-christ-movie-the-case-for-christ-trailer-pure-flix-production

Silence gripped the theater, as those in the audience sat watching the depiction of Lee Strobel’s defiance of Christianity as his journey to uphold his views of atheism plays out. As Lee’s character set out to save his marriage and family from this cult like entity, from those who profess to know Christ and His saving grace. His journey took him to every avenue possible to discredit what he felt like was robbing him of his wife and family.

As Strobel set out to discredit and disprove Christianity, he found insurmountable evidence of the very core of Christianity: Jesus Christ’s death on a cross, and subsequent resurrection. Time and time again, he ran into proof beyond doubt that the historical accounting of this specific event was more than just overwhelming; it was undeniable. Lee Strobel could not discredit the event of the Christ crucifixion and resurrection. He simply could not find adequate (read: any) evidence against this historical event’s actual occurrence. There were concocted theories, but none that held water. His unbelief was met with facts. His inability to discredit or disprove it became his ability and allowance in giving God a chance.

As powerful and transformational as this movie is, my response might shock some.

Aside from a bit of confusion, I say “so what!?”  Lee Strobel was able to wrap his brain around something because he couldn’t disprove it’s existence. Good for him.

Here is my problem with it all. Not with the movie, and certainly not with Lee Strobel.  But I went to this movie hoping for something. Something that met my questions with answers, and met my disbelief with belief. Instead, I saw a somewhat emotional journey of a man finding faith in a God he desperately wanted to be proven not real. My issue is this. I do not struggle with the belief that Christ was real, and the depiction of His crucifixion, burial and resurrection being real. I simply have no problem with that. It’s history. It happened. Moving on.

My struggle is with relationship. Just because something is real, doesn’t mean it feels real. Just because Jesus was a real person, known as the Son of God – just because He was put to death as such, and the supernatural and miraculous happened – doesn’t make Him any more real to me in the here and now. Yes, He existed. Yes, He died and was entombed. Yes, he rose again from the dead. And? So what!? Don’t get me wrong; it was miraculous and awe inspiring.

I don’t, and never have denied that. It just doesn’t seem to add relevance to my story. So this dude, known as the Christ, died and rose again. That was more than two thousand years ago.  (I do want to say that I recognize that Jesus is more than just “some dude known as the Christ” but I say that because it makes a point.)

Back to the struggle with relationship. This same Jesus of the Bible that Strobel couldn’t discredit is said to be a loving and perfect entity – One who desires communication and relationship with me, and with you. He is said to love each and every one of us with a love undeniable. A love so present, that once encountered – a person is changed forever. Undeniable change.

I am at a place where Jesus being real and existing two thousand years ago doesn’t equate to me today. The God of the Bible is said to be unchanging. He is thought to be the same yesterday, today, and will remain the same tomorrow. He changes not. Again, with the “so what” mentality.

I think the painful part of my journey of faith, or sometimes the lack of faith, is that I want it all to be true. I want all the blind faith I followed from my youth to all be real. But, I cannot say that it is. Or that it isn’t. I can say that I am sometimes feeling pretty lost, confused, and overwhelmed. My faith isn’t what it once was, and I suppose I should be grateful. I want a faith that is authentic, and that is able to grow it’s own roots. I want to be able to own the beliefs I have, and know why I believe them. I’m just not sure I can do all that right now. Instead, I’m met with more questions than I realized. Yes, I understand that the very definition of faith is not having to have the tangible as proof. Faith is the evidence of the things unseen. I get that. I don’t NEED this proof that Strobel uncovers to have faith. But, I’m finding that I don’t have any idea what TO believe some days.

I want to believe that the same God I prayed to, to heal my daughter from cancer is the same God who didn’t heal her, this side of Heaven. I want to believe that He is still as good, and in control now (after her death) as He was then (when I was busy praying for her healing.) My faith does not hinge on my daughter’s life, or death. But, it did help me ask a bunch of hard questions. It made me realize that so much of what I believe is or was based on blind faith. I want to believe the things I once did, but I simply cannot believe those things in their entirety.

So, where does that leave me? I have no idea, if I’m being honest. I do want the faith that is unshakable. I want to believe that the God that created me and you, and all of creation loves me and wants relationship with me. I want to believe those who say that I am His child, and he delights in me — instead of my belief that God must see certain people and shake His head – wondering where he went wrong with THAT one. With me. I often feel as if I must be a disappointment to Him. Me with all my questions. Me with all my pain. I want to believe those that say His love for me is vast, even in the times where I struggle with my faith. It is said that God welcomes all, and has outstretched arms, asking us to come to Him. From exactly where we are. No matter where we come to Him from.

I want to believe all that. But, in the interim – when I struggle to see these things, I welcome those of you with this faith to believe it for me until hopefully a time I can wrap my brain and heart around it all again. I go back to the Bible, in Mark 9:24 where I also ask God to help me in my unbelief. So, if you believe these things – or any version of them, tell me about it. Don’t give up on me. Care enough to keep speaking what you feel is the truth, in love. But, understand that I am unsure of a lot right now. And, that I have to believe that’s okay for the time being. Guess it will have to be. But, I do welcome your prayers, love, and your encouragement. And your hugs. Always the hugs.

Let Them Know Us By Our Love

Standard

This blog post comes not quite 24 hours after a deadly massacre in Florida. A horrific terrorist act. A news story that rocks our world, and unravels the very fabric of all we believe. Or at least it should. I will share my thoughts, and welcome yours in return.

I would like to mention that this is written from my own vantage point, and I will speak for myself – but with the bulk of this message being directed at those who call themselves, collectively, the church. Christians. Christ followers. People of faith. Those who love the Lord. Those who love the sinner and hate the sin. The body of Christ. This is for them. This is for you. This is for all who love and breathe – but ultimately, for those who embrace faith, and consider themselves followers of Jesus.

First, I’d say that, as Christ followers, this is one area, and with one community (the entire LGBTQ+ community as a whole) we get so many things wrong. Love. Let me explain from the vantage point of a married somewhat heterosexual female. I say it like that because I see beauty in so many places, and in so many people. I love all people. But yes, I’m married to a man. Moving on…

As a Christ follower, I so often want to apologize on behalf of Jesus Himself for all the Christians spewing hate in His name. This, friends, is not love.

As the body of Christ, we are expected to act as He acted. In and with LOVE. To ALL people, regardless of who they love, or are attracted to.

Those who claim or speak in the authority of Christ should NOT show disgust in those who sin differently than they do. Instead, we should sit with them in their pain. Perhaps when we stop judging, and start loving people as we’ve been shown unconditional love – then, and only then, will people truly be free. Free to live community faith in action. Free to hurt, but free to heal.

To drive this point home – I’ll stop those of you (just for a moment) who are itching to throw the ever so popular idea that God hates homosexuality too – and that their sin will surely keep them from Heaven. See, I AM NOT arguing that homosexuality is (or isn’t)  a sin. Nor am I saying that God doesn’t mention it as sin, I will allow you to come to a conclusion on your own. That decision is ultimately between you and God. No one else. Yes, you can look to the Bible for knowledge on this – but also for knowledge on often times, messy grace and the true picture of reckless love. Love in the face of danger. Sharing love, and allowing grace to mold lives and change worlds.

I suppose the final thought I want to ensure you don’t forget is the idea that yes, we are called to share the truth – lest any person perish. However, the truth shared with love is always where it’s at. You don’t have to agree with a person’s lifestyle to show them grace and to love them. As a gentle reminder – none of us are God. Neither you nor I were appointed judge, jury or executioner. For those in this community, or for anyone whose “sin” is different than our own.

With all this said – I’d like to implore you to allow this to be a heart check. Take a moment (and lots of moments moving forward) to love people the dance way you need love. BE the change in our world.

Allow your heart to break with all the hearts of those who lost their lives in Orlando during this act of violence so utterly horrible. Let this stand as an event in our Nation’s history where love truly does win. Do not take your situation (life and security) for granted. Love those who are different. Extend grace to all. Please pray for everyone involved – for those families and friends of all those who are mourning the lives of those they now miss. That the holes in their hearts will have comfort and peace, though broken and hurting. Pray, also for the injured, and for those still fighting for their lives. When you don’t know how to pray – let love speak.

To the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, please allow me to address you directly. I wish I could speak on behalf of everyone who puts on the hat that sports the title of “Christian” – but that I cannot do. As I mentioned previously, I believe this is something that we, the church, get very wrong a great percentage of the time. I want you to hear my words. I’m sorry. I hear you. I want to sit with you in your pain. I don’t have to know precisely how you feel to just love you where you are. That, I can offer you. I offer you the same messy grace, and the same heartfelt love that I’ve also been freely given. So here – please take my hand. Allow me to walk with you, and to do life with you. Together, we can make a difference in our world. Call it a pipe dream, or call it whatever you’d like – but know that my words are true, and my love for you is real. You are beautiful. Period. My love for you is like Christ’s love for me – it is real, and cannot be denied. Please know how truly valued you are, and that love is yours. Allow these words to wrap themselves around you like a friend giving you a hug. (Side note – I’m fairly certain that love makes the world go ’round.)

For anyone who is struggling in the aftermath of this tragedy, know that you are not alone. If you’d like to talk through it – I am here. I am only one person, and I’m no counselor or therapist. But, aside a human being, I am qualified to love you, and to help you see hope in a hopeless situation. Please feel free to reach out. Do not hesitate to connect via the “about me” page – or post directly in the comments. You are worth it, and your story matters. Today is a page (or maybe a defining chapter) In your story. But, this day is not the end of your story. You have a beautiful story – much of which is yet to be written. Please talk to someone if your pain feels unbearable. Do not attempt to walk through this – or any part of life – alone.

Much love, and many hugs to all who happen upon these words. Let’s do life, together, as authentic community. A community founded on love and operating with messy grace.

image

365 Moments Of Gratitude – Thankful For The Reckless Ones – Part 1

Standard

As I mentioned yesterday, Skyline has just started a new series entitled “The Reckless Ones” and this week was the first installment. This is the message entitled, “Above All Else” — I encourage you to watch this video. Pastor Lance speaks about the character and heart of the early church. He shares about the vital nature and sheer importance of love.

If you are someone, or you know of anyone who has been hurt, who has lost faith in Christianity, or who just needs to be loved simply because they are alive – this is for you. Please take a moment to watch and also share. I’d love to see the heart of the message contained in the video spread like wildfire. If our city / community / state / Nation were to grab hold of this concept, our lives would look very different. Let’s strive to be the change. Love like Jesus loved.

Marriage Is Worth Fighting For, Part 4: Prayer For The Standing Husband

Standard

Marriage is something I find myself passionate about. Being united in such a strong bond of faith and love is one of God’s many gifts to humanity. He created marriage to be a lasting, lifelong experience together – not as something to escape from when times get rough.

I do want to mention something I have said before in this marriage series. If you are divorced, or going through a divorce, I do not judge. Instead, I love. Divorce is something that sometimes happens, and is unavoidable in certain circumstances. I understand that. I do not look down on you for any decisions you have made, are going through, or have gone through in the past. Our experiences in life can either break us down, or strengthen us. I pray for your strength in the midst of this, or any other trial you may face.

Men, thank you for taking the time to read this. If you serve and have a faith in a God larger than life, I urge you to continue doing all you know to do – serve the Lord, and lead your family in His ways. If you find that your spouse is not on the same page of music you are with regards to faith, I pray you will not give up. God’s got this. I urge you to continue seeking the face and heart of God. He is faithful, 100% of the time. Even though His timing is not always our timing, it is perfect.

If you would like to share your story, or ask for prayer – please feel free to post in comments below or send me a message via my “contact me” page. I’ll look forward to connecting.

Very similar to yesterday’s prayer for the standing wife, I’d like to share the prayer for the standing husband:

Prayers For Standing Husbands

Dear Lord, You know my heart is broken, that I have a troubled spirit, and a longing for Your comfort and the answers I seek during this time of despair. So I thank You for Your Word assuring me that from the very beginning You created my marriage as a one flesh covenant relationship, saying that what You joined together, no one should separate, and that You hate divorce. And thank You for Your promise to heal my broken heart, and bind up my wounds, that You will comfort me as I mourn, and that You will bestow on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Thank You, Lord, that instead of shame or disgrace, I will rejoice in my inheritance, that I will inherit a double portion in my life, and that everlasting joy will be mine, as You restore my marriage, which Satan came to destroy. I thank You that in accordance with Your Word, I can approach Your throne of grace with confidence, and receive mercy and grace to help me in my time of need.

Thank You for Your promise that all things are possible with You Lord Jesus, and that You, and You alone, will give me peace that transcends all understanding. Thank You for the assurance that no wisdom, no insight and no plan can succeed against You. And thank You for having ________’s heart in Your hand, and for directing her heart like a watercourse wherever You please. Thank You for assuring me that she can not plan or understand her own way, because You are the one who determines and directs her steps.

Please teach me how to express my faith in love, because Your Word tells us that unfailing love is what everyone desires. And I ask You, Lord, to work in me to will and act according to Your good purpose, to make me the husband You want me to be. I believe You and I am Your disciple. I want to understand and live according to Your teachings, because then I will know the truth and the truth will set me free. Thank You for Your Word, because it is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. You are my refuge and my shield, so I put my hope in Your Word.

Since faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, please show me how to live by faith and not shrink back so You will be pleased with me, because I know it’s impossible to please You without faith. And thank You for Your promise that whatever I ask for in prayer, and believe, I will receive. Please teach me to walk by faith and not by sight, because Jesus said that according to my faith it would be done to me. So, Lord, I ask You to please give me the faith and patience necessary to inherit what You have promised.

Father, always remind me that I’m not to live by the standards of this world. And even though I live in the world, I can’t wage war as the world does. The weapons You give me to fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. They are mighty weapons that demolish the arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of You, my God, and the covenant of my marriage, so please help me take captive every thought and make it obedient to You, Christ Jesus. I will not be afraid, for You are with me. I will not be dismayed, for You are my God. Thank You for strengthening me. Thank You for helping me. Thank You for upholding me and the covenant of my marriage with Your righteous right hand. Thank You for making anyone who is incensed against me and the sanctity of my marriage as nothing; that they will be ashamed and disgraced. Thank You that anyone who contends with me or wars with me and comes to destroy or put asunder my marriage, is as nothing, as a nonexistent thing, for You, the Lord my God, hold my right hand, telling me to “Fear not, I will help You.”

Teach me to ALWAYS rest in the confidence I have in You, because Your Word tells me that it will be richly rewarded. Help me persevere so that when I have done Your will, I will receive what You have promised. And help me keep Your commandments and do the things that are pleasing in Your sight, so I’ll receive whatever I ask from You, including the restoration of my marriage.

I boldly ask for faith enabling me to speak to mountains and make them move, and the confidence and assurance that nothing is impossible for me. Thank You, Lord, that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and That with You, nothing is impossible, including living my life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, even during this time of trouble, which You promise to turn into a gateway of hope. And thank You that Your Spirit intercedes for me, Your saint, in accordance with Your will, and that You are working all things together for my good, because I love You, and am called according to Your purpose. I thank You and praise You, Lord, that Your thoughts and plans for me and my family are thoughts and plans for our welfare and peace and not for evil, that give me hope in our final outcome. And I thank You, Lord, that I can be still and know that You are God and that You will be exalted in all the earth, and in heaven, and in the restoration of my marriage.

And thank You for the comfort of knowing that even though my wife may have other plans in her heart, from You comes the reply of the tongue, and that the Words that come out of Your mouth do not return to You empty; that they will accomplish what You desire and the purpose for which You sent them! And thank You for the assurance that You honor and uphold the covenant of our marriage that was made when You witnessed our marriage vows, and that YOU will defend it against the treachery of unfaithfulness, divorce and remarriage.

For all this I ask and give thanks in the most precious and powerful name and authority of Jesus Christ, my Lord and savior. Amen.