Honoring our next President of the United States of America

Tuesday, November 8th 2016 will likely definitely go down as a day for the history books and websites to record and remember. In a Presidential race where one catch phrase has been “Giant Meteor 2016 – Just end it already”, many are feeling as though they are ‘choosing between the lesser of two evils’ when they vote. While others are declaring they will move to Canada if their candidate does not win, or wishing President Obama could win again and remain our President for infinity and beyond… America has been divided, united, and twisted.

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The pressure to post and respond to every political opinion on social media about your candidate of choice is fierce. Facebook friendships are faltering, families are divided, co-workers are confused… But hold onto the reigns of your tongue and typewriter… somebody is going to become our President Elect tomorrow, regardless of our social media opinions and outlets… regardless of this blog… And I can respect you even if you have a differing opinion from me.

You guys. Here’s a crazy thought… What if both Trump AND Clinton became President(S) … and had to share the responsibility and work in the oval office TOGETHER!!! What if the Democrats and Republicans had to work together in civility and UNITY?!! That would be INSANE!!! I know our democracy isn’t set up this way, but WHAT IF?!! #dreams #whatif #Godisstillincontrol

News Flash >>> yes, only ONE is going to win this election. The debacles debates are over, journalism has successfully exposed every truth and lie both candidates have ever told, every thought they’ve ever had, email they’ve ever written, tweet they’ve ever tweeted, outfit they’ve ever worn and every way they’ve combed their hair… and has any of this really important vital information helped any of us? Are we now more honestly educated and informed? Is either candidate or political party truly trustworthy?

((( … crickets … )))

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Even if we see choosing between the two lovely candidates we have as subpar choices, and we know two wrongs don’t make a right, we still need to vote. And respect one another.

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It is funny, yet so serious, as Liam Neeson’s characters always are. I am on the edge of my seat anticipating to see who our next President elect will be. This is not a blog to sway votes or predict what will happen tomorrow. Other than casting my vote and praying, and then praying more, much of the election outcome is out of my personal control. And it’s out of your control too. This is a humbling fact.

Regardless of who becomes the next President of the United States of America, I will choose to honor him… or her. As a follower of Christ I trust in a higher authority and I can honor all earthly authority. 

I can do this because the Truth I know is this: God is in control and ultimately holds all governmental authority. Recently, the Lord prompted me to read in the book of Daniel. As I was reading, I began weeping. I have not read my Bible and wept over the Words of Life in a very long time. I was overcome and the Holy Spirit spoke… “You can honor the next President, even if you disagree with him… or her, just as Daniel honored King Nebuchadnezzar.” It is an honor, a privilege, to vote and we can honor, respecting those in authority, even if we may disagree with them.

From approximately 605 BC – 562 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Babylon and was considered the greatest King of the Babylonian empire. Daniel was one of several young men selected to serve in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Daniel did not choose to be a servant in King Neb’s court, however he remained pure and continued to worship God during his time of training.

Daniel and three of his friends also chosen, were renamed, given Babylonian names while in the Kings court. Daniel was called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meshach, and Azariah was called Abednego. They did not choose these names, but they answered to them. They were told to eat the Kings food, worship his idols, interpret his dreams and were eventually thrown into the blazing furnace for refusing to worship Neb’s golden statue.

Daniel was determined to not defile himself. He honored the Lord with his worship and he honored his earthly king. He walked in humility and was full of Godly wisdom. He gained great favor in the eyes of King Neb, and was promoted to the royal service. Daniel successfully interpreted the Kings dreams, and was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon. Thru many dreams and trials and after much distress and anger, King Nebuchadnezzar was humiliated and humbled, driven from human society. After time passed, he turned his heart toward God, and gave honor and praise to the King of heaven. Eventually, his sanity returned and his kingdom was restored to him.

Daniel and his friends served the King under great oppression and challenge to their personal worship of Yahweh God. There are many truths we can learn from Daniel and his friends during their service in the courts of King Nebuchadnezzar.

  • We can honor both the Lord and His authority first, and earthly authority. (Daniel 1:8-9)
  • We can put our trust and hope in a King who rules the nations. (Daniel 2:21-23)
  • We can live with courage and without fear. (Daniel 3:17-18)
  • We can earn favor in the eyes of earthly authority and God will promote us. (Daniel 2:48-49)
  • With His favor, we can influence earthly authority for the Kingdom of God. (Daniel 4:37)
  • We can walk in humility and grace, under authority we may disagree with. (Daniel 4:19)
  • We can boldly declare Who God is under extreme persecution as Daniels friends did in Daniel 3:17-18 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

On Wednesday, November 9th, after America has chosen our President, Jesus will still be on throne and King of all the earth. And the Holy Spirit will give comfort and peace to all humanity. Just like Daniel, God calls me to honor those in authority. Even those I may deeply disagree with. I will honor those in authority, but I will first honor the Lord and trust He will do what He says He will do in Daniel 2:21-23.

“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.
22 He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
though he is surrounded by light.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

We can trust and we live in peace. We can be still and know that He is God and He is good. For we know as Psalm 22:28 says, “The Kingdom is the Lords and He rules over the nations.” God will be exalted among the nations. God will be exalted in the earth. Amen.

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts. Our story continues… In Him, LRB

 

 

 

The Ghost of Christmas Past

It happened. AGAIN. The Ghost of Christmas Past came back to haunt me. AGAIN. Stress… turned into Sickness… turned into Frustration… turned into Anger… turned into Despair. They were all present, wrapped up in the middle of my living room on Christmas day… Uninvited, by the way. But they were settled in my heart, locked in to my thoughts and exposed in my actions. Sure. I told myself — (hashtag) ###ChooseJOY. Yea, right. It doesn’t work like that. I’d had the wind knocked out of me and #Joy was nowhere to be found… or chosen. I was so pissed. Another holiday ruined. The Ghost of Christmas past haunting me again. I could not #wish for my holidays to be merry and bright, more than I could hope for santas’ fat ass to come down our chimney. I try and ###ChooseJOY every year. And every year seems like something f*cks it all up. Sorry. Not sorry. These were my real. raw. transparent. truthful feelings. #Exposed.

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Thankfully, Christmas morning was lovely. Coffee and waffles, warmth and cuddles. Although I blew my nose most of the way thru the kids opening their gifts, it was wonderful. I took a few pictures, capturing moments of #happiness. We skyped with family far away, blowing kisses at the screen and sharing digital hugs. As we cleaned up from ‘Christmas’, and the mountains of kleenex I had made, the walls began to close in again and I had a feeling the Ghost of Christmas past might make a visit. #Seriously, can I make it thru one Christmas without some kind of a meltdown?! Yet that is exactly what I needed. An honest with God, good old fashion meltdown. The Ghost of Christmas past drove me to my knees and to prayer. I was at my own end and in the most vulnerable place I could be. #blessed. That last hashtag was #sarcasm. sorry, couldn’t help myself. #Truth.

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#Seriously. Enough with the hashtags. On with the story. After dinner, I unraveled. I went into my room… and bawled like a baby. I wept thru my emotions and laid my feelings out before Him. God spoke gently to my soul. There was no guilt or shame for my ridiculous actions. No ‘I-told-you-so’, ‘get over yo-sorry-self’ or judgement of my reasons for unravelling. He is a good good Father, full of kindness, mercy and patience for His daughter.

He whispered one word. Grace. 

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In a moment with tears spilled out, with honesty of heart, with one word, He spoke Grace over me. Grace over my feelings, Grace over my thoughts, Grace over my actions. Grace over my family. Grace over our Christmas.

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The Ghost was gone because Grace took its place. Our Christmas was redeemed. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and a renewing hike the next day. We can honestly say we had a MERRY CHRISTMAS. Gifts are being enjoyed, memories are being treasured, and the kids are loving fighting over their new bean bag chairs.

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Before the brawl broke out…

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Selah enjoying popping bubbles, mostly

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thanks for reading friends 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who has been visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. So fess up and feel free to share your stories. If you need Grace, there is an overflow awaiting you… God is always giving His gifts, even after the holidays 🙂 The end, for now… I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie

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The Gift within The Grief {The grief of losing a child and the gift of a receiving a church}

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On October 22nd, 2008 we lost our lives. We lost our lives as they had been... As we had planned them… As we had hoped for them to be… 7 years ago, our world turned upside down and we walked down a path we never anticipated. We said yes to things we would never have chosen. And we said goodbye to dreams we never wanted to let go of. Sometimes when you can tell the story, the full healing comes.

7 years ago we lost a child. 7 years ago we gained a church.

In 2008 we were on staff at a beautiful church in Ohio, in a suburb outside of Columbus. We had been on staff since 2005, and for many reasons finances were tight and we were being let go. We were pregnant with our third child.

Our dreams were coming true in a way we did not anticipate. We had hoped to eventually church plant in the Northwest. We were at complete peace and rest to leave Ohio and go… somewhere… heading in the direction of the Northwest. We weren’t sure exactly where, and we pursued the possibility of other church jobs in the Ohio area as well. Prepared to leave, we shared with our church the Trust we knew was holding us, and the Confidence we had in Christ caring for us thru all time. We prepared to say goodbye.

On the evening of October 22nd, I began experiencing cramping and bleeding. A friend came over and took communion with me, and prayed with me. I spoke with another friend on the phone as she talked me thru the very painful process of losing our child.

A few days prior, we had been to the Dr and she said there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound. I didn’t believe the news. We were praying for healing and revival of the baby and over my body. I was praying it would not happen, but I was having a miscarriage.

The same evening, we received a call from our Pastor and he wanted to meet with Adam. Although we were in the middle of a terrible loss, I told him to go. I sensed very strongly he was to go. The timing was awful. Our life circumstances were in turmoil. We had no job and we were losing our baby. Our Pastor had no idea what we were experiencing in those moments. But I knew. I knew God would be my strength thru the loss. I knew the Holy Spirit would be my comforter. And I knew Adam should go and meet with our Pastor.

It is not by chance we experienced a great loss and a great gain on the same day.

That evening our Pastor offered the gift of our church. He and his wife made the decision to step down and he was recommending Adam and I to now lead the church. We were prepared to leave, and grieve our church and our child. But that evening we said Yes and accepted a gift we never expected.

We spent the next 6 years Pastoring our beautiful church in Ohio. It was a grand adventure. In this season I heard the Lord speak many words. One was “You will have another baby … I will bless you with twins.” My heart soared with great hope when He spoke those words. December 31, 2009 ~ we had a Selah. 

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We never had twins, so doubt has stirred in my heart and mind about half of the word my Father spoke to me… but I know the doubt is not from Him. There is grief surrounding the desire for more children. There will always be a loss or someone missing in our family. But we Trust. The past 7 years have been a journey of unexpected joy and sorrow. We don’t know what the future holds, but we trust there will be a season of more to come…..

Thank you for reading and sharing. In Him, Leslie

*October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. If you have grieved your own loss or stood with someone who has, you understand the pain. 

Singing my least favorite Worship Song

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This Sunday, we sang my least favorite worship song in church. I wasn’t leading the worship set, so I didn’t choose the song. In fact, my husband –the Pastor– chose the song. He acts like he runs the church or something. He gets to do that ‘choosing songs’  thing every now and then, since he’s the Pastor and all. 😉

When Adam told me he had asked Dean to include this song in the set, I rolled my eyes. Adam smiled at me, “I know you don’t care for this song very much, but it fits really well with our ‘Serve Sunday’ service.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this worship song. It glorifies God. It sings of His Truth. It has a nice melody and sound… but it has always been one of my least favorite worship songs. I would still engage in worship when we sang it, but I would only choose this song if Adam asked me to add it into a set.

So, I’m a worship leader who doesn’t like a worship song? …Shouldn’t I like all worship songs? …Shouldn’t I be able to lead any worship song, if it speaks truth and brings glory to God? …Shouldn’t I be able to worship without an attitude, regardless of the song we’re singing? Yes. I should.

But I’m weird. I know. So I pick and choose preferred worship songs. I would guess, most worship leaders do.

And then Dean asked me to lead the chorus of the song.

WHAT?! I think God was laughing at me….. 😉

But God… He’s so funny.

When we began the worship set, my heart changed. As we entered into “God of this City”, the Holy Spirit breathed new life on this song for me. I cried in response to His mercy and kindness. I looked into the congregation and my eight year old son was worshipping, hands raised, fully engaged. My heart swelled with joy. As we left church, Salem exclaimed, “I loved that song we sang, Mom!”

Since Sunday, I have cried every time I have heard this song. God changed my heart and now, this is one of my favorite worship songs. He is God of this City and Greater things have yet to come!

Do you have a difficult time worshipping to certain songs? What worship songs do you prefer? Have you ever experienced a change in your worship song preferences? Please share your experiences… our stories are only half written… In Him, Leslie

screaming on the way to church

screaming on the way to church is perfectly acceptable.

this is me — screaming on the way to church. i reenacted it for you to capture this lovely image… you get the picture. (photo cred: my hubby 😉 )

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i woke up to a beautiful day. had some coffee. had some eggs. had plenty of time to get myself ready….. and as i was heading out the door to leave for church, i became super agitated and angry. i was running a few minutes late, which is not unusual always for me. but… this was not about me running late. this was not about me being on my period. this was not about anything anyone did that pissed me off. the frustration that came over me was sudden and ugly. i didn’t want help loading my guitar. i didn’t want to hug my kids good-bye. i didn’t want to kiss Adam good-bye. i wanted to scream. 

i rushed out of our driveway. gave a fake smile and fake wave to our next door neighbor — during our ‘love your neighbor’ sermon series, nonetheless. and screamed on the way to church.

as i was driving (and screaming), i was battling. i was battling lies infiltrating my thoughts telling me i’m a terrible mother for leaving the house in a huff and not hugging the kids good-bye. i’m a terrible wife for not kissing adam good-bye. i’m too angry to lead worship today. i’m too angry to be in church leadership. i’m too angry to even be a Christian.

Oh. WHAT. THE. HELL?!? these thoughts lies were from the pit of hell. from the father of all lies — satan himself.

on the way to church my mind was a battle field. i was pushing into enemy territory. i was on my way to lead worship — to lift up the name of Jesus above all other names,  proclaim Him as the Son of God and sing of His glory and Lordship over all the earth!

before long, the screams flowed into prayers. the lies ceased and Truth pierced thru — taking my thoughts captive.

every time we worship, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. we are participating in an unseen battle and we need real protection. we need the armor of God. i don’t recommend screaming every Sunday on the way to church, but there will be times to use your tongue as a spiritual defense weapon.

as i screamed on the way to church, warfare was waged. my tongue was on fire and it wasn’t pretty — battle never is. it is messy when we follow Jesus. my worship on Sunday was an overflow of the battle i had just been part of. my worship became warfare and celebration simultaneously, as the light of Jesus broke thru the darkness and the Kingdom of God advanced.

Have you ever experienced hearing and believing the lies of the enemy? How has your thought life been affected? How has your worship been affected? Please share – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In Him, Leslie