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.

images-1.jpegUnknown.jpeg

 

2fb.jpg

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 … )))

14449293_1782637655309865_4014993144071323648_nUnknown.jpeg

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.

vote-meme.jpg

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

 

 

 

Move over adults… Youth are taking over the church.

We are in awe of ALL God did at our Fruit of the Roots youth event last weekend!! Youth from Vineyard churches all over Oregon and Vancouver, gathered at our church to worship and seek God together. They connected with one another, old friends and new, deepening community. They had loads of fun, ran around like loons, drank liters of gatorade and ate tons of food… And they worshipped. They prayed. And they served.

14632995_10209415621959831_7959977692268331892_n.jpg14563503_10209415622759851_4927127021873221540_n.jpg

Together the youth made care packages for the Police officers in our community, they gave Hope packs out to people at the hospital and prayed in the emergency room, they made shoes for children in Africa suffering from jiggers thru the ministry Sole Hope, they made meals and gave them to our homeless community, and they prayed for and gave money to various people God led them to.

Personally for our family, God met us with His kindness and faithfulness. Here are a few stories… Selah (6yo) prayed after hearing testimony of eyes being healed on Saturday… “God You are the only God, the One True God. You are the Healer, not the sicker, You are the Healer.” I loved how she prayed “not the sicker”  🙂 The Truth of who God is has been sealed upon her heart. Salem (10 yo) was battling some discouragement when we came to the church. I asked him to come and listen to the service Saturday night, as testimonies were being shared from outreaches the youth participated in on Saturday afternoon. As he listened to the testimonies, he was reminded of the Truth of Who GOD IS. Immediately, the discouragement lifted and he returned to his joyful silly self! This year was Soleil’s (12yo) first time to participate in Fruit of the Roots as part of the youth group. She has been sharing stories of her outreach group going out into the community and serving people God led them to with us all week. She is growing with a burning passion for Jesus that is evident in her joy and Worship!!

Sunday morning, we had an overflow of joy in worship as our church community gathered for our service. There was freedom to dance and shout as we all proclaimed “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a Child of God!” Across all of the generations represented in our church, from babies to 80 years young, we proclaimed and sang out “We are the Children of God! We know Whose we are, we are the Children of God!” After the worship time, Adam called for prayer over those in need of healing, addiction and for an increase of Joy. He asked the youth to pray and God moved powerfully over those who responded. We sang again “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”. This time, I asked one of our 8th graders to lead out on the song … hesitantly she started singing (since I put her on the spot!) but WOW, God gave her courage and she sang boldly and beautifully as He used her to lead us!

11061286_807295242657368_7529929219891108009_n.jpg

Sunday evening, we had our Harvest Party. Families from the church and community gathered and our little building was filled with everyone enjoying LOTS of candy, chili, games and FUN!!!

Unknown-4.jpegUnknown-3.jpegUnknown-2.jpegUnknown-1.jpegUnknown.jpegUnknown-5.jpegUnknown-8.jpegUnknown-7.jpegUnknown-6.jpeg

Adults, be aware – THIS is what happens when young people are in the church. And it is GOOD!  Thanks for reading… our story continues… In Him, LRB

Redeeming Death and Darkness

In our stores this month, death has been for sale. Have you seen it? People actually pay their hard earned cash, people actually spend REAL money… on death. I don’t get it. Here’s what I know about death – it stinks, it rots, it decomposes and it’s ugly. So why do we pay to display and dress up in it? At Goodwill recently, I ran across a statue of a vampire holding a head. The lovely piece of “Art” was on sale for $79. Yes, you read this correctly. It was once sold somewhere else, then donated, then re-sold at Goodwill, where everything is supposed to be ‘cheaper’ for $79.

We buy death. We decorate with death. We display death around our homes and neighborhoods. Halloween has become an opportunity for companies to make money off of selling items, which if portrayed in real life, people would be arrested for. One would be incarcerated if found dressed up and holding someones cut-off head. It is disgusting.

The United States of America is a very interesting place. In many other countries Halloween is not celebrated. We have friends who live in Austria where Halloween has only gained popularity in recent years. We are confusing our neighbors across the pond with our obsession with darkness, death, fear, scary costumes, gore, horror, and the list could go on and on. We spread it around our lawns and like this house I often go running by, we hang it from our treeeeeeeeeesssssssss.

IMG_0281 2.JPG

Yes, visiting our neighbors houses is fun. Collecting candy is fun. Decorating is fun. Costumes are fun. Games are fun. But glorifying darkness, death and fear? Not fun. And this goes beyond Halloween… What are we portraying day to day with our time, energy, actions and money? Life or death?

“Oh death, where is your sting? Oh death, where is your victory?” Jesus conquered death. We have no reason to fear. If we are Christ followers, we no longer live in darkness, we live as Children of the Light. We are called to walk as sons and daughters of God, as children of the Light. The same power that raised CHRIST from the dead LIVES within US!

Friends, this is our time to shine. Shine with the light of Christ. In a season where death is glorified and darkness overtakes our neighborhoods, we have an opportunity to shine as fierce as the sun! In the past our family has hibernated and hidden away from Halloween, and we’ve missed opportunities to talk with our neighbors. I’m not proud of this. A few years ago, we spent Halloween being a “fun house” on the block, and hosted a carnival style party where games, candy and fun spilled out of our house and driveway and onto our neighbors. At our house tonight, we are planning to shower our neighbors with friendship thru games, candy and fun as we shine the light of Christ thru our actions.

Perhaps nothing will change from this simple blog and these humble ideas. But perhaps… perhaps some of you will decide to do something different next year. My one suggestion would be – trash it. Don’t pack it up and donate it to Goodwill to be re-sold. Perhaps there will be a new generation of Halloween participants who will share light instead of darkness, fun instead of fear, and shower this world with the Light of Christ proclaiming LIFE over DEATH!

Thank you for reading and sharing in our journey! 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.

20151225_094505

20151223_183314

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.

IMG_20151225_015536

20151231_034557

#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. 

IMG_20151231_045810.jpg

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.

IMG_20151226_165239

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.

IMG_20151225_212257

Before the brawl broke out…

20151225_093550

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

Feel free to comment, share and follow our blog!

O Taste and See that the Lord is good {dispelling depression during the holidays}

Those moments come… and you hope they go. You hope they flee more quickly than they settled over your head, your heart, your soul. The darkness creeps in again and you find yourself lost inside your own thoughts… and numb. When in a season, meant to be \\Full\\ of \\Thanks\\ you find yourself struggling to be Thankful… You know it is not the TRUTH. You know the TRUTH will set you FREE but the lies have a hold and the desire to BE set FREE seems too far out of reach so you turn numb.

When His whisper sweeps over you softly and says ~ Speak up. Speak out. Speak Truth. Speak MY Name. The darkness will flee. MY light will overcome it.

Freedom comes, but with a price. What were meant to be Joy-Filled Memories are overshadowed by the lies that settled in. Regret becomes your default reaction. The JOY you have is being assaulted by a familiar enemy. Feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment and sorrow swell until your Truth is distorted, and the pattern repeats.

IMG_007412105893_10153682650947430_8982390427548137261_ncropped-img_20150218_162310.jpgcropped-img_20150222_011207.jpg

 

This sounds depressing and it is. I have been here before. Depression had come to my door, let itself in, and settled down for a visit. At my table. In my heart. More times than I would like to admit. No one wants to be depressed during the season of Thanks, but there are some who are. There are some, like me. We know Truth. We know who He is. We know what we carry, and we fight. We fight for freedom. And we win, but not without a battle. Not without a cry. Not without a cost. Not without a sacrifice.

The way I see it the lies we believe are tailored to who (we know) we are. They are fiery darts, custom made to attack our very core and distort the Truth of our identity… You’re not good enough… You’ll never have enough time… You’ll never feel healthy again… Here you go again – feeling down for no real reason… What do you have to be depressed about anyway?

I see the faces set before me, the JOY set before me. My family, my friends, my Savior. Countless reasons to GIVE THANKS, Yet for a time it will not shake. But I will not be silent. When I speak HIS name, darkness flees. Freedom Comes. Truth remains. Forgiveness settles in.

The greatest threat to depression is a VOICE. When you speak out, it is no longer hidden. The light overwhelms the darkness. Peace overwhelms my soul. Our greatest weapon (to protect our souls) is our WORSHIP.  When I worship. When I sing. Psalm 30:11-12 “…You have turned my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

Joy has come and dispelled the depression once again. I have tasted and seen the Lords goodness. I have tasted and seen His love, His freedom, His peace, His forgiveness. I am grateful I can indulge in who He is this season. His love is better than any Thanksgiving Feast. Even better than the green bean casserole and apple crisp 🙂

Have you struggled with depression? Does it seem to settle in at your table during the Holidays? You are not alone and I would love to hear from you! Please share and know YOU ARE LOVED! In Him, Leslie