why others should know what you stand for

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Recently the television show Once Upon A Time aired an episode specifically to celebrate the LGBT community. It became obvious what their goal was with the forced story line seemingly coming out of nowhere – well, Oz to be exact. The series plot follows fairy tale characters that we all know and love as they navigate their way in the modern world.

In an attempt to normalize homosexual relationships, what better way to force-feed the audience their agenda than behind the cloak of “family friendly” watching? I’m not naïve enough to think ABC (the broadcast in which the show airs) shares my values. In fact, it took me this long to see how much they despise them.

In the name of tolerance there are shows on ABC about a gay teen (The Real O’Neals), a married gay couple with a kid (Modern Family) and a woman who has an abortion (Scandal). I don’t even have to watch those shows to know I won’t be tuning in. The clips and headlines say it all.

But my head turned when the creators of Once Upon A Time, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, decided to make Red Riding Hood and Dorothy a proud lesbian couple with a full-on make-out scene. I shouldn’t be surprised, but that one caught me off guard. They also clarified Mulan’s lesbianism as well. It seems obvious that the writers ran out of good material and had to go for the shock value instead. The season had been sputtering a little and this sealed it.

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If there was one thing I could tell ABC it would be that in the crusade for tolerance, you have offended me, a Christian.

Our world is so bent on not offending the LGBT group that the rest of us don’t even matter.

We’re called bigots, intolerant, homophobes, and narrow-minded (and those are the nice words).

The standards I choose to follow are God’s biblical principles laid out in Scripture. I believe what God says about marriage. It is between one man and one woman and not only is it beautiful, but also sacred. (Genesis 2:20-25; …all of the Song of Solomon)

The wide brush that Christians are painted with grieves my heart. We are projected as LGBT haters. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that the kind of lifestyle homosexuals celebrate is what God calls an abomination. It makes something He created as holy, unholy. (Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:17-20; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 22:5)

But what I also see are the people behind the masquerade – souls that need truth, to see what real love looks like, the love of Christ. What a scary place it must be to make up one’s own morality as you go along.

When everyone does what is right in his own eyes we self-destruct.

I’m disappointed Once Upon A Time took such an unnecessary turn. However, I will not be silenced or ashamed of my convictions because I follow Jesus Christ. I agree with the Bible and that it is completely true without error. The sad part is LGBT and supporters have made themselves the victims when in fact it is the Christian faith being attacked.

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Redemption is possible to all who desire repentance from whatever lifestyle of sin. But “you cannot adjust your faith to make room for your favorite sin” to quote Matt Walsh. It doesn’t mean Christians have it all together. Rather, it acknowledges a need for forgiveness and daily grace, seeking to please God because we love Him. Defiant rebellion and rebuking God’s Word is not an option or a mark of a believer.

So, let us pray for this nation in a culture war that steps inside our own homes through the television screen (or better yet, turn it off). Let us pray to be kind to someone who vehemently disagrees with what we stand for, demonstrating gracious speech, patience with conviction. Let us grieve for the lost and do our part in bringing the Gospel to our neighbor, co-worker, city, and to the nations. Engage the culture instead of shunning it. Let others know what you believe because when you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

 

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March Madness

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Spring is here. It is refreshing to see life bloom again. Color everywhere and warmer weather, hooray! March felt a little heavy, personally and around the world. While nations argued and it seems as if evil is winning we as believers hold on to something more. Praise God this isn’t my home! I have a sure hope of better things to come.

Despite all of the negative news that determined to overpower my senses, there were glimpses of God’s grace, beauty and even fun all around. Here are 6 things I enjoyed in March:

 

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

  1. I now understand why The Martian was nominated in the Comedy category at the Oscars.

I know I’m late to the party on this one since I just watched it. It’s not your typical comedy by any means, more like a dramedy. To keep the movie light and interesting, quips are sprinkled throughout making this film delightful to see. Matt Damon does a superb job carrying most of the scenes solo. I found it to be a mix between Apollo 13 and Castaway (notably both Tom Hanks movies).

Growing up in an “all things NASA” city and really enjoying The Martian I think qualifies me as a solidified space nerd. I surprised even myself on that one.

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  1. Karen Carpenter was crazy talented

Jason and I watched a PBS special on The Carpenters a few weeks ago. I had no idea Karen played the drums before she started singing. That was her thing before they all realized she had the most enchanting voice ever. Who knew?

She also had a contralto singing voice, the lowest female voice type. It is said to be the most rare of female vocals with less than 1% of the population.

 

  1. Apparently I have a high sensitivity to caffeine

After my morning cup of coffee I would always have huge crashes and felt half-asleep (Dead woman walking). So, to counter the zombie look I’m in the middle of “coming clean” from caffeinated beverages for a solid 3 months! I do feel a lot better after only a few weeks. This is just an experiment, or complete insanity.

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4. We live in a mad, mad, mad world

Politics has sucked me in. All I hear about is the “anger” the voters have, and yeah I get it. I’m both fascinated and appalled by it all. There were quite a few “super” Tuesdays, candidates dropping out and immature exchanges back and forth. I’m sorry, is this the 8th grade or a presidential election?

My hope when everything feels unsettled on the verge of collapse is that God is on His throne. God is still God. Ultimately I place my hope in Him and not man.

 

 

5. If you are on Instagram like the 400 million other users, check out these incredible landscape photographers:

@william_patino

@quietachiever

@intrepidphotos

These talented people travel all over the world capturing breath-taking views of God’s creation. I’m always left in awe over our Great God and Creator of the Universe. What an amazing gift He gives us through His beauty.

What things did you see, listen to or learn in March? Do you and your family have any traditions that you celebrate for Easter? Ours was low-key this year and I enjoyed it. Celebrating our Risen Savior and Living Hope this month makes everything else pale in comparison.

I pray that you are filled with peace and joy as we step into one of my favorite months, my name’s sake you guys!

Grace upon grace,

April

 

To the City of Lights

Eiffel tower, Paris, France.

Eiffel tower, Paris, France.

Yesterday there was an evil massacre in Paris by ISIS. Here we were busy in our afternoon, while the Parisians settled into the evening ready to begin the weekend, or so they thought. Friends catching up with one another at the café, buddies enjoying a soccer match at the stadium, France playing Germany. Fun loving music goers attended a concert that ultimately costs them their lives, like cattle sent to the slaughter, unaware of the unfathomable violence that would befall them.

ISIS is Satan on earth, living, breathing in the flesh. He and his demonic forces have taken this terrorist group for themselves and all that wickedness comes from Lucifer’s command. He hates God. He hates life. He hates those who love both and attempts to destroy not only God’s people, but also all who are created in His image. Satan loves nothing more than to annihilate, mutilate, distort, and pervert sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. This is his goal and always has been since the Garden of Eden. Satan knows he has already lost the battle, but will wreak havoc while he can.

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Last night ISIS succeeded in making the world feel an unsafe place. It never really has been safe though. We deceive ourselves into thinking an ocean and a strong military are great buffers to keep the bad guys at bay. But the only reason we are given any protection is due to the Lord’s Sovereign Hand. I am thankful for the men and women who volunteer to serve and protect us, but it isn’t what saves us, not ultimately.

My heart breaks over the injustice, the methodically planned, cold-hearted bloody acts in France. My prayer cry is for the friends and family who lost a daughter, son or brother in Paris last night. May they be comforted by the power of the Gospel, who is Christ, as they reel from what could never happen to what has happened.

My heart intercedes for the lost souls, not realizing their last night on earth would usher them into an eternity. My prayer is that some knew You, Father. Not all are lost forever. I plead with Him to not let all of this carnage be in vain. They were college students, mothers, interns, girlfriends, and businessmen.

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So what should our response and prayers look like in the aftermath? We pray that this heinous act against humanity will ultimately be a spiritual victory. Revival. Another Great Awakening. Wouldn’t that be glorious to see beauty rise from the ashes? “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NKJV). Right now we pray and grieve with Paris. If we cannot physically fight ISIS ourselves, we can spiritually. For the Christian this is a call to arms. Train yourselves in the Word, stay faithful in prayer, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). We can and should be a city of lights ourselves to the hopelessly lost and dark world.

The Church will be sifted, even more so than now. Spiritual reformation usually follows the heels of great persecution. ISIS persecutes others just for living. Specifically, they say, “American blood is best”. They hate what we stand for- freedom. Freedom to live in a democratic open society similar to France. But more than that, ISIS hates Jesus Christ. If you follow Him, they hate you too and will do everything they can to destroy your faith, your life.

In these times as our hearts mourn for Paris, may we not lose our Hope in the One who will have the final victory. It isn’t over, the bloodshed, but it does not mean ISIS has won either. Ultimately they will lose in the worst way. Jesus says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NIV). May God grant even ISIS repentance and thus have mercy on their souls.

Grace upon grace,

April

There is Grace

511939471         Saturday was a national day of protest against Planned Parenthood in light of the atrocities many have seen from the undercover videos released. I attended the one in my city and for the most part it was a peaceful demonstration for those who were there to defend the defenseless. There were a handful of pro-abortion supporters who came to deter us and drown out speeches, prayer, and hymn singing with shouting and loud music. Ironically it was music that demeans and degrades women. I saw their hostility and ugly signs and then it hit me. My heart breaks over the murder of unborn babies, but also for them. I cried behind my sunglasses seeing their anger, ultimately their hatred of God. Whispering prayers aloud (probably looking a little crazy), pleading with God to have mercy on their souls, to soften hearts, to save them, and break the heavy chains of unbelief. If only they knew the freedom Jesus gives.

We all need the life redeeming, death crushing, soul saving, and beautiful Gospel message of Jesus Christ. He is the One who rescues a condemned soul from the gates of Hell. Christians cannot change the mind of a pro-abortion fan until our Savior changes their heart. Only He has the power to do that. I realized then that it is not an “us versus them” mentality. It is not strictly about who wins the argument more than it is about believers speaking truth into the heart of the hardened when opportunity arises. Speaking words of wisdom and love, acting in kindness.

Grace and love are two of my favorite words because of Who and what they represent. If I am to be like Christ then I must practice these actions to others on a daily basis. Is it easy? Nope. Especially to those I feel don’t deserve it. But the truth is, none of us deserved God’s grace and forgiveness, and He freely gave it to us anyway wrapped up in salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ words are recorded in Luke 6 when He says, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you […] If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that […] Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27-28; 32-33; 36 NIV).

John Newton is the man who penned the famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, in collaboration with William Cowper. What led Newton to write these words is a remarkable journey in itself. As a young man he was forced into the British Royal Navy. After a failed attempt to escape his fate, Newton was publicly flogged and demoted. He then requested a transfer aboard a slave ship. On the coast of Sierra Leone Newton was abandoned by his crew and became a servant of a harsh slave trader where he was relentlessly abused.

Newton was not a believer at this point and in fact led a rebellious life. He kept running from God, but the Lord continued to pursue him through various circumstances. One of those times occurred during a violent storm out at sea which threatened to sink the ship. Newton was captain of his own ship by now, and he was heavily involved in slave trade. In a moment of desperation he cried out for God’s mercy on him. He would later recall that moment in his life as a spiritual turning point. The wheels of grace began turning.

He continued working as a slave trader until 1754 after an illness caused him to hang up his seafaring ways for good. Newton applied for the Anglican priesthood in 1757 and became minister at Olney in Buckinghamshire in 1764. During this period of Newton’s life he met and befriended figures who had great impact on his spiritual growth- George Whitefield, John Wesley, and William Cowper to name a few. John Newton began to regret his time as a slave trader and recounted its horrors in tracts. He describes in detail the conditions of the ships and the life of a slave aboard the ship. Newton became an avid supporter and influencer in the abolition movement because of his personal experience and spiritual convictions.

‘Amazing Grace’ is a summation of his past life before Christ and the continued work of grace even after salvation. These are the first 3 verses to the beloved hymn:

‘Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.

 

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed.

 

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,

I have already come;

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.’

I do not minimize the sin of those who favor pro-abortion but I do maximize the truth of the Gospel because there is grace. There is forgiveness. There is redemption found in Jesus Christ alone. This is what is needed more than anything else. The tide of abortion can change with one heart at a time repenting and knowing Jesus as Savior.

“Then did the dead heart begin to beat,

the darkened eye glimmer with light,

the dull ear catch thy echo,

and I turned to thee and found thee,

a God ready to hear, willing to save […]

Then didst thou come to me in silken robes of love,

and I saw thy Son dying that I might live,

and in that death I found my all.

My soul doth sing at the remembrance of

that peace; […]

Grant that I may always weep to the praise of

mercy found,

and tell to others as long as I live,

that thou art a sin-pardoning God,

taking up the blasphemer and the ungodly,

and washing them from their deepest stain.”

(‘The Great Discovery’, The Valley of Vision, p. 112-3)

Grace upon grace,

April

Brave heart

524704907“ ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ ” (Revelation 21:4-5 NIV)

 

I have seen the undercover videos that expose Planned Parenthood for what it truly is. I have seen with my own eyes the mutilated flesh of an infant, 18-20 weeks alive in the womb, a twin actually. I saw a tiny clenched fist and two little legs in the pile as the medical assistant sifted through the remains of “sellable” organs. I watched, speechless, heart in throat, feeling like I might vomit as I processed in my mind the barbaric reality. Abortion has been legal in the U.S. since 1973 and as a result, millions of children murdered. Somehow though, seeing it with my own eyes, hearing the crunch of a skull as examiners attempt to retrieve the brain “intact”, strikes directly at my heart and conscience. I can never un-see those things and now, I can never walk in ignorance either. I didn’t even watch the videos all the way through because it was all so disturbing. I have a pretty vivid imagination that can guess how the rest of it played out.

Eighteenth century abolitionist and poet Hannah More said, “It should be held as an eternal truth, that what is morally wrong can never be politically right” (Fierce Convictions, Karen Swallow Prior). She was referring to slave trade but the same holds true for abortion. It is another form of human trafficking, which makes a profit off of body parts. It celebrates the degradation of human life and dignity.

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When it feels like Satan is winning it is easy for the Christian to become discouraged. What is abominable and wicked is deemed acceptable and normal. They nod their heads ‘yes’ in casual agreement over Mexican food and a glass of wine, business as usual. They cannot see the blood on their hands. What are we to do? How can we be a voice for the voiceless when we feel so helpless?

2 Chronicles 20 recounts the time when King Jehoshaphat was informed that the Moabites and Ammonites were on the march to make war with Judah. Faced with this sudden attack Jehoshaphat did the only thing he knew to do in his time of need. The Bible records he “resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek Him” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4 NIV). Jehoshaphat prayed for Judah, pleading with Jehovah, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV; italics mine).

I think this is one of the most transparent and humble prayers coming from a king. Jehoshaphat knew Who was in control and sought the Lord’s favor and guidance. The Scriptures also say that all of the rest of Judah, men, women, and children stood there before the Lord. They were united in One Hope. We need that in 2015. When the enemy attacks and the violence is relentless do we seek the Father’s help? How are we responding? Pray. Yes, pray fervently. Is the Lord asking you to become bold in stepping out and speaking up? Are you called to serve an organization that promotes life? Each Christian has unique gifts and special callings. We are only to obey. Be brave. Even if right now the way you stand against abortion is to choose to have your child. Raise your babies to fear and love the Lord. Teach them to be Christ-like.

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Our Matchless King demonstrated His power to Judah and king Jehoshaphat. The rest of 2 Chronicles 20 says that God spoke words of encouragement to them. The Lord said: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s”(20:15 NIV). God has the ultimate victory. He will fight for us when we are limp and can barely hold up our shields. The Lord told the people of Judah: “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you’” (20:17 NIV). He calls us to have courage, be strong, and trust in Him. It means we are not alone and therefore do not act alone. When we are obedient to look to Him, and stand in truth, He will allow His power to work through us and change the world, little by little. We have the privilege to be the Potter’s instruments.

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When it feels like Satan is winning we can hold fast to the truth that Adonai is on His throne. When it feels like Satan is winning we can look to that Day when the Perfect Judge executes perfect justice. When it feels like Satan is winning we can cling to the knowledge that God has already won. He is Jehovah-Nissi, ‘The Lord is My Banner’. You see, we as Christians can look forward to the promises of God when all is made new, restored, perfected and glorified. One day. Will be. Future tense. Sin and this world will pass away someday. The lives of these precious children who never had the chance to live will not have been taken in vain. No, God sees the sewage of sin, the stench reaching to His nostrils. When we feel helpless as Christians we can humbly cry out to the Lord like Judah’s ancient king and say, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

Grace upon grace,

April

To watch the Undercover Planned Parenthood videos go to: http://www.theblaze.com

For further information on supporting life and adoption go to: http://www.choose-life.org