The Danger of Secularism

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My husband and I attended a Christian music festival to support a few friends who were performing.  Following a day filled with worship music and sweat, we were blessed to enjoy an air conditioned meal with friends.  Amongst the chaos of tending to a toddler, we began a conversation on secular music.  We had been discussing a particular Christian artist and if we agreed with his working with secular artists; My husband and I held the firm belief in opposition to it.  One of the gentlemen sitting at the table, whom I quite liked, stood on the opposing side.  He appears to be quite musically talented, and I can appreciate that from one creative to another.  He believes that by working with secular artists, the Christian artist could be sharing the gospel; however, I truthfully doubt that in his agenda.

After much friendly conversation and debate on the issue, we finished up our meal, but that conversation really stuck with me for whatever reason.  I found myself contemplating it as I cleaned the next two mornings.  That’s how I know it belongs here.

I wish I had said it then, but it took thought to formulate the right words to explain my reasoning.  There is a difference between a “Christian” and a Christ-following Christian.  I must begin this reasoning by saying that I am just as sinful in this area as most.  I indulge in secular music, television, and movies far more than I’d like to admit.  Let me explain why I shouldn’t, and why the above stated artist shouldn’t work with secular artists either.

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We are not our own.  Even the breath that escapes our lips does not belong to us; the Holy Sprit breathed us into existence.  I want you for a second to close your eyes and focus your energy inward.  The Bible says that the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3:16)

Do you honestly think that the same spirit that guided Christ would even dare fill his ears or his mind with anything other than worship.  I picture Christ literally cringing at the sight of a well known artist making music that could in any way divert a non-believer from finding the Truth; or for that matter, guiding a believer on a dangerous path due to the lifestyle choices of secular artists he might be affiliated with.  It’s hard for us to understand that every action and word we have represents Christ because we bear his name as Christ-ians.  Even Jesus’ disciples found it hard to swallow; what a sacrifice it would be to follow Him.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:60-66)

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I think, all too often, we forget that we were bought with a price, and we are not free to do as we wish.  We have watered down the truth to allow for our “harmless” desires.  I would wager that many Christians don’t even know they are dangerous.  As I tried to explain in the conversation, I would never judge a fellow brother or sister for their stance on this issue, but for me personally I feel the conviction to do as Christ would.

And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekial 36:27)

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Because after all, isn’t our entire purpose on this planet to follow Christ?!  I’m not sure why we ever stopped wearing those little WWJD bracelets.  What an impactful yet simple solution to every question in life.  So my question to you regarding this topic is, “Would He?”

I’d love to hear what you guys think in the comments.

A Renewed Mind

Renewed Mind Bible Journaling

I’ve had this misconception my entire life that people walk around wearing masks (hypocritical or not) that cover up deep conversations in their mind, emotional torment, and anything truly real.  The older I get, I realize now, more often than not, that some people really are just, “What you see is what you get.”  Maybe it’s the weird intellectual and creative gremlin jumping around in my mind, but there is more to me than meets the eye.  There’s a story under there, and truthfully I’m not hiding it, but no one seems to bother digging in either.  When I meet someone or attempt to cultivate a relationship I already have, I have this deep longing to know them for what they feel and what they think.   I honestly believe that what resides in your mind and your heart is essentially your essence.  What worries me most about the age in which we are living, is that I’ve learned, that for an unsettling amount of people, there just isn’t anything there!

I keep playing this cat and mouse game trying to tear down walls with people, only to discover that there was nothing even there to begin with.  I had this assumption that they were keeping me at a distance, but the truth was, they didn’t need walls.  There was nothing there to find; no intellectual substance, no emotional turmoil, just purely superficial being.  I haven’t quite decided if that’s a bad thing or not.  Maybe it’s just easier that way. For now I’ve just come to the conclusion that I am certainly different.

I struggle to connect with people in a superficial world, and that can leave me feeling pretty lonely.  Maybe that’s the special bond I am capable of sharing with other Christians who have been changed by the Holy Spirit.  It hasn’t worked for me yet, although I’m still holding out hope.  I have no shame anymore about speaking my mind and being blatantly obvious about how I feel or standing up for those who are honest with themselves.  That in itself makes it difficult to connect with people, but in theory, I want to be an open book that warrants others to feel as though they can be as well.

People make jokes of it, as if it’s an act to seem more “deep.”  It doesn’t offend me, but it does make me question what sets me apart from them.  It strikes me that they don’t understand.  What part of my mind is different then theirs?  I’m sure it will take me a couple more decades around the sun to figure it out.  Till then I hope individuals like me somehow gravitate in my direction because it gets pretty lonely in a daft and considerably vapid world!  I know God created me just as He intended; He renewed my mind for His purposes, that I may be more in tune with the Holy Spirit.

I’ll just leave you with these verses to ponder:

Romans 12:2

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Philippians 4:8

  • 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

2 Timothy 1:7

7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Jeremiah 33:3

3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Unity

I felt like I was just dragging myself through the trenches this week.  Isn’t life just the pits sometimes?!  When I’m absolutely spent, I put so much pressure on my husband to pick me back up again; and let’s be honest, that’s way too much pressure!  I expect my husband as my partner to fill Christ’s position as comforter, and that is oh so wrong!  I desperately desire to be unified with him in those moments.  While my husband isn’t the most perfect consoler (he is a man after all), he brings me immense comfort knowing that he is a man of the Lord; a man that when realizing his lack of understanding, turns me to Christ instead.

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I desire unity with my husband more than anything else in this world, and in doing so, I completely miss what my husband is trying to tell me in his lack of action.  We expect our husbands to know exactly how we’re feeling, but the truth is, they just don’t; we as wives are complicated creatures.  When I’m unloading on my husband, expecting to be comforted, he sits in silence; It infuriates me beyond belief.  I’m swimming in absolute sin at this point, ladies!  I know in hindsight because of much prayer with the Lord, that he just simply doesn’t know what to say.   I work myself up in knots thinking he doesn’t care, but that’s just not true.  My husband is just as complicated as me, and if I took the time to pray in these instances, I would be reminded that I can’t read his thoughts either.  I expect the instant gratification of being comforted, but that’s just not how marriage works.  Every day of marriage is a learning lesson, and for ours, immensely so.  We have yet so much to learn about each other and to teach one another.  Christ has so much to teach us about unity in our marriage.

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I’ve been reading this short devotional on the You Version app that has really tugged at my heart and totally flipped my views upside down about our recent argument.  Isn’t it amazing how God’s word can change everything in hindsight?!  I wish I could turn off all my sinful tendencies, and His word wouldn’t be used in hindsight, but in that instant.

Only the Spirit can bring unity. Only the Spirit can free us from our pettiness and from the forces of guilt and sin that divide us from God and from each other.  I totally miss the mark when I forget that the Lord’s purpose for our marriage is to teach us the fruits of the spirit.  There is no foundation that can teach us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control quite like marriage.

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There is a reason that the Bible gives us reference to Paul the Apostle who draws a parallel between marriage and spiritual unity when he tells husbands to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). For Christians, marriage is a reflection of the deepest unity: the unity of God and his church. In a Christian marriage, therefore, it is the unity of God’s kingdom, in Christ and in the Holy Spirit, that matters most. Ultimately, it is the only sure foundation on which a marriage can be built. “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

I’m going to make it an absolute habit that when I feel let down and divided from my husband, to read this and be in prayer to understand how my husband is feeling and how I can bring more unity in those situations.

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Dear Lord, unity in our marriage is about so much more than just agreeing on things.  Your Word tells us that our unity actually reflects You to others.  Our disunity reveals how far we are from You in our spiritual lives and character.  Help us to keep a mindset of unity that is tied to the Truth in Your Word, rather than view our decisions and disagreements as competition of thoughts and will.

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John 17:23

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Softly, the Holy Spirit Echoes in My Heart

“There’s a place of grace that allows me to love myself the same way I love others.

Echo_Session3Place of Grace Bible Journaling Page using Maggie Holmes Carousel

Truthfully, I’d never pondered this verse quite like that before, because I think that might mean I’d have to focus attention on the voices inside my head.  Session 3 of Illustrated Faith’s revival camp challenges us to love ourselves as dearly as we love others; moreover, it gives us permission to banish the condemning words that swirl in our minds and hearts.  It’s hard to believe that a tiny one-page devotional can rip you open inside, exposing a menacing cloud of self-doubt.  Boy, was I wrong!

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You see, I’ve been living in a dungeon of thoughts my entire life; an anxiety and guilt-filled thought dungeon.  From an early age, my life was littered with a handful of men that shaped the way that I speak to myself; they determined my value.  A decade of mental warfare left me bruised and broken, and most of all, left me as a monster, determining my value based on how well I pleased others. In fact, as we speak, it wreaks havoc on my marriage.  I toss and turn in my bed at night (next to my handsome boys), feeling guilt and filled with anxiety about things I said or did years ago; every little word and every little detail a punch to the gut.  My head is filled with an endless debate on whether I could have been better or behaved more pleasingly.

The dialogue in my head is like a devastating twister ripping through my self-esteem, my relationships, and the Holy Spirit living inside me.  The Holy Spirit reverberates inside of me like a deafening echo, but somehow my worldly view of myself still takes precedent over His sweet, sweet words.  I can feel Him changing frequencies inside of me, hoping to break through that menacing cloud, and I know one day He’ll succeed.  That’s a hope that I carry with me; one day he’s going to wipe me clean, and I will abruptly see myself the way He does.  Each year that passes I learn slowly and sluggishly to love myself with the same fervor that Christ has taught me to love others.

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I pray that His echo increases in frequency to a point that He’s no longer an echo; He’s a thundering loud speaker in my heart and soul, banishing every negative thought and pleasing tendency to anyone but Him!

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