Category Archives: Church

‘Tis So Sweet: To Trust Him More

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image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

-Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus,  Louisa M. R. Stead

I haven’t talked about it a lot here on my blog, but one of the most amazing parts of my move last year has been my church. I switched campuses a few months ago (same church, different campus location), and for the first time in a long time, I really feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Not only do I feel myself growing more spiritually than I have in the last 10 years, but it’s really one of those things where I feel like I fit. Not because everyone is like me, but because we are all so unique and crazy and wonderfully made–it’s truly a blessing to be in a church that is charismatic and I don’t have to “hide” my gifts or attend elsewhere to get my fill. Every single week at church, I am filled in more ways than I can count.

One of the biggest blessings has been the prayer ministry at my church. I have known that I am an intercessor for many years, but I was never in a church environment where that call was supported and grown. Yes, at past churches I have prayed with other people and prayed for other people, but here, the call to intercession is celebrated and many women are a part of my life who stoke the fires of prayer in me.

In fact, I knew this was going to be the right campus for me when the first Sunday I attended, a beautiful sister came up to me during the church greeting time, pulled me into a warm embrace, and said very boldly to me, “You are an intercessor. You are called to it. You need to be doing it more.” I was surprised–not at what she said, but at her boldness. And though I initially fought it, I knew from that one interaction that this was the church campus for me.

So I was incredibly excited when that sister and others organized a prayer night for the women of our campus in August. I did not attend expecting anything of myself, only that I would experience the Lord’s presence. I received that and so much more.

As the ladies prayed over me, one of our praying sisters and a friend of mine spoke several prophetic truths over my life…truths that have done more to increase my faith and trust in the Lord than anything before. I hate to say it, but I haven’t been someone who has had a lot of trust in the Lord. I have claimed to have it, but I have found it so difficult to trust in Him despite His repeated attempts to show me that He is completely trustworthy. After this prayer night, though, God’s grace has proven faithful once again as He has grown me so much in the area of trusting Him.

This new blog series is going to highlight many of the things that my beautiful sister prophesied over me and their subsequent impact on my life and trust in the Lord. I’m so excited to share with you these amazing, life-changing truths. And I am excited as I continue to grow in my trust and dependency on my Lord. It truly is so sweet.

 

 

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Questions, Christians, and 50 Shades of Grey

questions by Stuart MilesI’m not going to see 50 Shades of Grey. I think that, if you’ve read my testimony and followed my blog, you know that for me to see that would be incredibly hypocritical. I did not read the books, and I am not following the hype. But I am on social media, and I know people are excited about it—even many Christians. And I don’t understand that. I have been reading comments on social media from Christians who are going to see the movie, and trying to understand their reasons for doing so. In response, bear with me as I ask some questions to get us thinking—and praying.

Some Christians have claimed that it is a redemptive love story—because Christian Grey comes from a very dark past, and eventually, this young lady saves him from that dark past. I understand redemption, because the best redemptive love story can be found in the Bible—and because I have lived through redemption myself. I was very lost in a world of porn and addiction to sexual promiscuity, so I do somewhat understand that about Christian Grey. But my question is this: does a love story of redemption need to include lewd and graphic sexual content to tell the story? In other words, do you need to see a video of my sexual escapades in order for me to tell my story of redemption? Of course not. If I posted a video of myself having sex with someone as part of my story here, Christians would RIGHTLY be enraged. But some of these same Christians will go into a movie theater and watch lewd sexual situations in this movie because “it is part of the characters’ redemptive love story.” Both situations are pornography. One is more acceptable by Christians. My brothers, this should not be so.

The other aspect to the “redemptive love story” claim is the idea of trying to present darkness as light. I have done this a lot in the past to justify my decision to do something I know is not increasing my Christlikeness. But I am reminded of a few things from God’s Word. First, the devil presents lies as truth and darkness as light. In Genesis 3, that is exactly how he deceived Adam and Eve. Even today, he continues as the great deceiver who packages some aspect of the light (it’s a redemptive love story) around darkness (it’s also full of sexual deviance and mistreatment). He is, of course, the father of lies. And the Bible is very clear that Satan and his servants disguise themselves as angels of light and servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14). So my question is this: have you been fooled into believing that this movie’s darkness is light?

I have also seen many Christians who will see this movie claim, “you can’t judge me,” “don’t judge me,” or “only God can judge me.” Interestingly enough, Matthew 7:1 is American Christianity’s favorite Bible verse to quote. American Christians, in my opinion, don’t believe they should be held accountable for the choices they make. And that is simply not true. To judge is to hand down the verdict as to whether or not you are guilty and I give you a sentence based on your guilt. And it’s true—only God can do that. But when there’s a standard or a law that you obviously don’t live up to, then I can and should point that out and lovingly correct you. Paul even gave us the how-to guide for that in Galatians (6:1, and chapter 2 when he lived it out). In fact, most of Paul’s letters were written to point out blatant sin in the church—but Paul was not God, so should we disregard most of the New Testament? Of course not! As fellow believers, we do indeed have not only the right but the responsibility to lovingly hold each other accountable for our sins, including impurity, lewdness, pornography, and fornication—all things represented in the movie 50 Shades of Grey. And that’s why we need to think before we say, “don’t judge me.” But my question is: would you even need to say “don’t judge me” if you weren’t doing something that you knew was not in line with Scripture?

I can’t tell anyone what choice to make, but I can tell those who claim to be believers what the Bible says. It says to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), to think on pure things, to be pure as God is pure. We don’t do these things because we are prudes, we do them because we want to please God with our actions and our thoughts. We do them because our example, Jesus Christ, would. God’s will for every believer is simple: Christlikeness (see Genesis through Revelation). So my question is: how does seeing this movie contribute to your Christlikeness? Because that is the question we should be asking ourselves—not just about this movie, but about everything we say and do.

I pray that Christians will begin to stand up for Jesus Christ and the Holy Word, not Christian Grey and Hollywood.

Read more awesome coverage about reasons to skip 50 Shades of Grey here, here, and here, or check out an awesome book about Christian women and our awesome sexuality “Pulling Back the Shades” by Dannah Gresh here.

Spiritually Healthy Habits: Worship

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

“I really didn’t enjoy worship today.” I used to say this all the time about the church services I attended, especially when I was younger. I believed that the only time I was to worship the Lord was on Sunday mornings, and the rest of the time was Michelle time. Even though I was a leader in my church, I lived my life as if I worshipped my friends, my job and money, and even my health more than I worshipped God. As I grew in my faith, I realized that worshipping God was more than just “enjoying” the service on Sunday mornings, more than just attending church for a few hours each week, and more than just singing songs to the Lord. Worship is meant to be more because it is not meant to be about me. Worship was meant to be about the Lord!

Worship is an important habit to develop if we want to be spiritually healthy. But it’s essential that we remember these three things about worship:

  • Where we spend the most time shows what or who we worship. This doesn’t meant that if you don’t live at the church, you don’t worship God or that those who work in the church worship God more. It simply means your priorities in life will point to what you truly worship. Is your priority working 100-hour weeks to give your family the best of everything, while neglecting them and your health? Then maybe you worship money. Do you spend a lot of time at the gym because you want to look good for everyone? Then perhaps you worship yourself. Spend all day on social media? You may worship others’ opinions. The Bible warns us constantly against idolatry (Luke 4:8), and it’s easier than ever to become entangled in it. So take an inventory of where you spend your time—what or who do you worship?
  • Worship is more than just singing. Sometimes, we think of worship as music and nothing more—especially if you are in any way musically inclined. But worship is far more than just music! Worship can be prayer, listening to a sermon, praising God in nature, serving others less fortunate than ourselves, and/or giving thanks. Everything we do can be seen as an act of worship if we live as if we are serving God instead of man (Ephesians 6:7, Colossians 3:23). Worship is defined as showing reverence and adoration towards God, and we can do that simply by loving others. “I’ll bring you more than a song/ for a song in itself is not what you have required/ You search much deeper within/ through the way things appear/ You’re looking into my heart!” (Matt Redman, The Heart of Worship) So ask yourself: besides music, how do you worship God?
  • Worship should happen both corporately and privately. “Worship isn’t just for Sunday mornings!” I have seen that on church signs and heard it from the pulpit. But it’s true—worship consists of more than just attending a one-hour service on Sunday mornings. True worship of God extends beyond the church walls and into our private lives. We worship with others because we do not want to give up meeting together; we worship privately because we are to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to the Lord (Hebrews 13:15). Psalm 71:8 says, “My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” The Psalmist isn’t just sitting around all day praising God; he is declaring the Lord’s splendor to others and by himself as he goes about his day. In the same way, we should challenge ourselves by asking: how can I worship God privately as well as publicly?

John 4:23 says, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” Being spiritually healthy involves worshiping the Lord as true worshipers—those who will worship Him with their time, with more than music, and in private and public.