3 things Christ followers need to stop doing… Please.

Hey. I’m a Christian. 

If you’re a Christ follower too, that’s cool. There are 3 things you need to stop doing (if you’re doing them). Please. For the love of God. And btw, if you’re not claiming to be a Christ follower – this is not for you. So keep on keepin’ on… More power to ya.

If you know someone who claims – ‘I’m a Christian’ – Do specific thoughts come to mind? Do you hold them to a higher moral standard? Do you have certain expectations of their actions? Do you consider if their lifestyle reflects their claim?

You Should.

You see, I have been living as a Christ follower as long as I can remember. I’ve been going to church since I was born 37 years ago. My parents took me until I could take myself, and I’ve never stopped taking myself to church. When I was 16 years old, the Lord called me into full time ministry.  When I was 18 years old, I began working full time in Christian circles ~ Mardel Christian bookstore, Women of Faith, New Life Clinics, and serving in youth, worship and Pastoral ministries in churches across the United States. So…being a Christ follower is my life. 

I am basically a professional Christian. But, being a Christian is more than “my job”.

What does that even mean? Am I super holy? Um no. It means I am super needy. 1) I am a sinner. 2) I am desperately in need of my relationship with Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord every single moment of everyday. . . waking or sleeping. . . all 24 hours. Every. Single. Day. 

As a professional Christian, I have spent much of my life in relationship with other Christ followers ~ all on their own journeys ~ thru acquaintance, co-workers, friendship, counseling, mentoring and discipling. Throughout my life, I’ve been the “religious friend”. I’ve overheard friends say, ‘don’t tell Leslie this … fill in the blank.’ I’ve made people uncomfortable…and still do, I suppose. Especially as a “Pastors wife and Worship Leader”. These “titles” automatically come with their own laundry list of expectations and pre-conceived notions people have of me and my life. I’m certainly not perfect and definitely not anyone’s Holy Spirit. However, I’ve always felt different… like a stranger in the world… because I was set apart. 

In my relationships with other Christians over the years, I’ve noticed a profound difference between those who live as they are, and those who merely say they are. I have been surprised by the distinction between who we proclaim to be with our lips, and how we actually live out our lives.

Last I checked, following Jesus is a full time gig. Like, He has expectations of those of us claiming to follow Him to look different than the culture we’re surrounded by in the world we live inSo, if we call ourselves Christ followers, we should stop doing these 3 things. Please. For the love of God. Otherwise, let’s agree to agree we might not actually be. . .living as Christ followers.

Stop. Seriously. Immediately. 

This may sound judgmental? I’ll let you be the judge…

1) Comparing sins – Justifying our own sin by comparing our sin to others sin.

If you are making excuses for your sin, based on a sin comparison chart you’ve drafted – Stop. Don’t do that anymore. Being a Christ follower means repentance – aware of your own sin and convicted by it. Don’t compare your sin to the person sitting next to you in the pew, or the person singing next to you in the choir.

Jesus began His ministry with a message of repentance. Repentance means change. Repentance requires a turning away from our sin, not justifying our sin. “…the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:16-17. (ESV)

2) Being hypocritical – living the Christian life with your mouth, but not your heart.

The “Phaducees” (Pharisees & Sadducees) had God on their lips but their hearts were far from Him.

“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15: 7-9.

If you are a Christ follower, your actions, choices and decisions and should reflect it. Not merely your words. Jesus rebuked the Phaducees because they were pompous and religious in word and appearance, but deceived in their hearts.

3) Living selfishly – Hey Christian, it’s not all about you. The Christian life is one of great sacrifice.

We are called to lay our lives down for others. Our lives should look more like the life of a servant than that of a king. Washing feet rather than turning up our noses. Putting others above ourselves. We are blessed to be a blessing. Called to give ourselves away and lay our lives down.

“And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:33-35.

It is not easy to be a Christ follower and it was never designed to be.

So this is a challenge to those who call themselves Christ followers. Attending church for 1 or 2 hours a week, paying tithes, singing in the choir or serving in the children’s ministry doesn’t automatically make anyone a Christ follower. If you’re comparing sins, living hypocritically or selfishly… Stop. Please. Thank you. Christians – we need to look different than this world we live in.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10.

And the story rages on. . . In Him, Leslie

Ducks, Gays and Jesus Speech

Duck_Dynasty_Promo.jpg

I’ve never seen an episode of Duck Dynasty. We don’t even have cable.
I know nothing of Phil Roberts Robertson, except that he is a bearded person on the show.
I wouldn’t recognize him in a crowd of bearded men, women, children or animals..
I also didn’t remember Miley Cyrus was Hannah Montana, so I realize I’m not the best celebrity follower, fan or stalker… although I would *LOVE* to meet Julia Roberts one day…

Now… for the elephant on the web: What is to become of Phil Robertson, freedom of speech for Christians, and the clash with GLBT community? I am not sure of all the answers, but I do have a few ideas…

Phil will survive being suspended from his show. He’s probably sleeping more soundly than many of us. Maybe he will buy A&E, or another station will pick up the show.
He’s a wealthy man, and will continue to make money at Lifeway, Wal-Mart and everywhere else Duck Dynasty products are sold. So… we do not need to concern ourselves with his becoming homeless.
Phil will continue to speak about his convictions. He is still allowed to speak, even though he has been suspended from A&E. He will find other outlets to speak his mind and share his heart.
Is the suspension wrong? Well, my opinion is -Yes- but there are a lot of “wrong” things happening in this world that deserve our attention as much, or more than, the show Duck Dynasty (modern day slavery, for one).
If you are pissed, passionate and posting all over social media about what’s happened to Phil, it’s okay… I just wish we would get as pissed and passionate about stopping PORN and other problems that are infecting our culture and the world wide web.

So, we take sides and blow up on facebook because of what one man has said.
Jesus did the same thing when he walked the earth. 
There was no social media, but Jesus’ words spread.
He was disagreed with left and right – and by the left… and the right.
He turned things upside down with his words, and he was suspended from society.

I read a few articles from different perspectives on what Phil said, then I prayed, read my Bible and started typing.

To me it’s real simple…
1. Jesus is not surprised or offended by anything Phil -or any of us- have said or done.
2. The Gospel will still be preached, even if the Duck Dynasty show goes off the air.
3. We are all sinners in need of the Savior Jesus Christ.
4. Jesus desires us pursue Him than any other person, place or passion.
5. You can still be a Christian and not watch Duck Dynasty. Or have cable television.
6. Your support (or non-support) of Phil will not affect your relationship with Christ.
7. You can stay true to your Biblical convictions and disagree with others for their convictions, regardless of cultures response.
8. You can speak in love and still disagree on homosexuality.
9. You can still eat chicken, love gay people and be a duck dynasty fan. Oh snap – that was sooo 2012.

We are all one sentence away from a remark that goes viral and causes society to respond in outrage or worship. Regardless of what will happen with the rights of the ducks, the gays, or freedom of speech for our society… I will not stop writing, speaking and singing about Christ and His Kingdom. 

Boast in Christ ~ Our freedom of speech might be threatened, challenged or taken away. Like the Disciples, we might be jailed, beaten or killed for preaching Christ. Whether we yell or whisper, His Word will go forth. Jesus is the Word {John 1:1} The Bible and Christian beliefs have been debated for years and it won’t stop with the outcome of the Duck Dynasty debacle.
Pursue Christ ~ If Jesus is our Lord, we must pursue Him. His ways, His heart, His passion. As we pursue, we can trust He will change hearts, transform lives, and renew minds. His Word will go forth.

If Christ is our Savior, our mission is to preach and pursue *His Kingdom*, more than sexuality, family, friendships, favorite foods, sport teams, activities or television shows.

Speak and Pursue His name, His words, His Kingdom Come, more than anything… and to Him be the Glory, forevermore.

*Your thoughts?

Thank you for reading, sharing and following ~ In Him, Leslie

Strict Parents

yes.

we are those parents.
the ones who won’t allow their children to watch certain movies. even some cartoon movies
the ones who won’t allow their children to play by themselves in the front yard. (sorry. don’t even trust the ice cream truck).
the ones who won’t allow them to have dessert until after they eat their vegetables. every. single. day. (thankfully they actually like vegetables…and dessert).
the ones who won’t allow them to go into public restrooms by themselves. no way.
the ones who won’t allow their bedroom doors to be closed. especially when friends are over.
the ones who won’t allow them to have their own cell phone. or computer. or television.
the ones who won’t allow them to have an intagram, facebook or any other social media account. until they are (at least) 30 years old. 
the ones who won’t allow their children to have sleep overs. (with the exception of very rare occasions)
we are those parents. 
the hyper parents. 
the over-protective parents.
the controlling parents.
the boundary setting parents.
the strict parents. 
yes. we are. 

most of the time, we feel like our family is out of this world, like we don’t belong here. [and we don’t]. 
we don’t live under a rock. or wear amish clothing. 
call us old fashion.
call us weird and different.
we are living opposite of mainstream culture. and glad to be.
when i was in the 5th grade, my parents allowed me to have a sleep over [after i begged them]. a small group of my girlfriends came over and the fun began. later, we went into my room and closed the door. unbeknownst to me, a few of the girls had invited over a few boys (one of them was my neighbor) to my house. my bedroom was at the front of our house with two slender windows. the next thing i know, they are in my front yard, tapping on my window, sneaking into my bedroom, thru the window. it happened so fast, i didn’t know what to do. i was internally panicked. i felt uncomfortable, but didn’t have the guts to kick them out. 
thankfully, my mom did. 
she knew. she came to my door and knocked, “Leslie, I’ve made some popcorn. Come and help me with it.” 
whew. she came to my rescue. 
she came in the way of grace, compassion and care. 
she knew.
she knew i was uncomfortable with the boys being there. 
she knew it was not my idea. 
she trusted me enough to know it would never happen again.
she took me out of my room so i would not be embarrassed when she confronted me about the boys being there. 
she then cleared them out and made them go home. 
she bore the weight of the whining and complaining from the girls whom (i thought) were my friends.
freedom was not my being allowed to have a sleep over with boys sneaking in my room and us girls being able to do whatever we wanted. 
in one bold move, my mom showed me what rescue and true freedom look like. 

so yes. 
we are the parents who won’t allow our children to have or attend sleep overs. (with very rare exceptions).
we gladly rock the label of strict parents. 
we know our kids. we communicate constantly. we answer their endless ‘why’ questions… to help them understand the fullness of our decisions. we are protecting our family and our home. kids need boundaries. our kids are not being denied freedom. they are freely living under grace-filled guidelines. deep levels of trust, honor and respect are being built between us.  
even as adults, we need a rescuer. we need a protector. we need JESUS. and we need to be parents who will protect and set boundaries. no one else will be that for our children. in HIM, rescue, boundaries and protection will bring true freedom. a freedom that comes from death and brings forth a life we can truly, freely live.   
In Him, Leslie
*It’s your ball – What are your thoughts on strict parenting? Please share… 

sex and money.

 

sex. and money.

i can’t seem to get these two things off my mind.

i’m obsessed with sex and money…

how they are interlocked interconnected intertwined.

their union haunts me. burdens me. motivates me.

distorted destructive detrimental.

sex and money united together destroys lives.

why?
 
money {+} human trafficking. slavery. strip clubs. brothels. sex boxes. prostitution. peep shows. porn. magazines. romance novels. shades of grey… {=} destruction.
 
sex {within these terms} needs money to thrive. 
they keep funding and feeding each other.
it’s a disturbing cycle where one perpetuates the other.
sex and money were never meant to have intercourse with each other.
sex and money were never meant to become ONE.
never never never never…
but sex and money have taken a romp in the sack together and made a bunch of porn babies.

it’s an epidemic. the desire which gives into the money exchanged for the demand of sex.

which came first? 
the chicken or the egg? 
the pole dancer or the person paying for the dance?
the prostitute or the person paying for the sex?
the sex box or the person driving thru?
the magazine, the romance novel, the shades of grey… or the person reading it?
the trafficked person or the people who ‘own them’?

God created sex. Sin entered in. Sex and money were united. An epidemic was born.

sex and money are good separately.
sex within marriage is good.
money within proper boundaries of spending and saving is good.
sex and money together are distorted. they should never. go. together. ever. ever. ever.

seriously.

i pray our eyes will be opened to one of the most damaging unions {sex and money} facing our world today.

this epidemic is not hopeless.

Jesus was born. Jesus rescues. Jesus redeems. Jesus restores. Jesus renews. 

i pray we will do something. change something. say ‘no’. look away. it starts with our choices…

the soft porn also known as magazines… they line every bookstore shelf, welcome you into every grocery store aisle, and cover your door step with every subscription.
the t.v. shows and movies lined with subtle innuendos, coarse words and full on nudity.
the shades of grey in books filling minds with fantasy romance and descriptive sex scenes.
what may seem harmless leads to a disconnection from reality. 
what may seem harmless leads us to lies, believing sex and money can be intertwined.  

what sin has joined together only God can separate. 
no more money in exchange for a magazine.
no more money in exchange for a porn video.
no more money in exchange for a lap dance.
no more money in exchange for a life.

yes. we are suffering from the messy union of sex and money.
what are we going to do about it???
the change needs to happen carefully and with respect. 
what are you doing?
what are you being called to say ‘no’ to?
what are you being led to look away from?
we have a choice to not be controlled by unhealthy sexual desires. 
call out sin for sin. lust for lust. fantasy for fantasy. porn for porn. prostitution for prostitution. 

the union of sex and money is a complicated relationship. the only answer is Jesus redeeming this epidemic. the light will expose the dark.
human trafficking, prostitution, pornography… their deep roots need to be uncovered to be understood.
– we need to start somewhere –
we can all do something to help ourselves and help influence others away from being caught in the intercourse of sex and money.

there is so much more to say on this subject… i’m just getting this conversation started… it is only half written… until then, please share, comment and join this blog community.

In Him, Leslie

 

Miley Cyrus, the VMAs, and Jesus.

In today’s facebook news… I saw a couple of posts about something Miley Cyrus did on the VMAs? with a teddy bear? and a foam hand?… and then read a few blog posts that were linked with “letters to Miley” regarding her… ahem… VMA ‘performance’
To be honest, I don’t really know who Miley Cyrus is.

I wouldn’t be able to pick her out of a crowd if you paid me to.

I didn’t even remember she was “Hannah Montana” until a friend reminded me. 
I’ve never seen an episode of “Hannah Montana”. 
<>. 
Now. You might think I am a recluse who writes from under a rock and rarely sees the light of day. 

On the contrary…
I. Just. Don’t. Care.
I don’t care about what Miley Cyrus did or didn’t do with a foam hand and a teddy bear on national television. 
I don’t care about the VMAs – or MTV – or Academy Awards – or the Oscars Schmoshcars – or the Silver Globes – or any other kind of award show that involves red carpet, limousines, over priced dresses, and people giving themselves statues for things they do, in which they are over paid for in the first place.
So. If “I don’t care”… why am I using my precious time and blog space to write about how I don’t know who Miley Cyrus is…?
Because I know God. and He knows Miley Cyrus. He created her and loves her. 
I know a God who cares about what she does and how she lives her life. 
I know a God who cares about the rest of us –the audience- of these shows. 
He cares about how we spend our time, how we spend our money, what shows we watch, who we support, who we make into celebrities. 
We made Miley Cyrus into a celebrity. We have glorified her from a young age as “Hannah Montana”. We push celebrities to push the envelope by our boredom and demand for more. more. more. and We have contributed to how she uses her “stardom”. 
When we are star-struck with someone, we give them glory. 
Who are giving glory to? Who are we spending our time getting to know, read about and talk about? 
We. Have. A. Choice. to put down the People magazine. To turn off the television. To choose not to see the latest movie. To save our money instead of wasting it on garbage. To save our time instead of wasting it by feeding into making other people “stars”. 
So. I still don’t care what Miley Cyrus did or didn’t do on the VMAs. 
It’s not going to change my life one way or the other. 
But I do care about Miley as a human being. 
I desire for her to know her true value and self worth. 
I hope for her to know it is not sex or songs on a stage that will fill her life.
I pray she will see there is a Holy God who sees her as precious. 
And she is worth His great love.
And I hope we will know we are worth His same great love.
I hope we will seek to know about, read about, and talk more about Jesus. 
I hope we will be star struck by an awesome God, rather than the latest celebrity performance.
I hope we will be in awe of the One who gave His life for all mankind.
and I pray He will be glorified. 
In Him, Leslie