COVID-19: Calm Yet Wise

When I worked at Amscot, a check cashing place in Florida, we were often told the phrase “trust, but verify“. It meant that, which we were to trust our customers when they gave us checks to cash or proof of a job for payroll advances, we were to also verify that the checks were real or that the job/bank account were current.

It was the idea that we could simultaneously trust the client while also making sure to verify that the information they gave us was correct.

With two groups of people dominating social media with regards to COVID-19 (those who think it’s nothing more than another cold and those who are stockpiling toilet paper and preparing themselves for the zombie invasion), I think Christians should be at the frontlines of pushing a third narrative; Calm, yet wise.

We are calm because we trust in God, the Creator of the Universe. He is Sovereign. Not a thing comes to pass that doesn’t get approved through Him. He numbers our days and He chooses when our time has come. Until then, we’re untouchable. Satan can’t do anything to defeat God’s plan. We can’t do anything to defeat God’s plan. God always plans 100+ steps ahead of anything we possibly could, weaving together infinite stories with precision.

But we must be wise as well. I wouldn’t “test God” and jump off a bridge just because I believe He is sovereign. That doesn’t indicate a lack of faith. The Bible says not to put God to the test (Matthew 4:7). He invented physics and gravity. If I jump of the bridge, I will fall to my death. PERHAPS I may live (because of His intervention), but it’s a slim chance.

Just the same, if someone threw a knife at me, I’m not going to stand my ground and say “GOD HASN’T GIVEN ME A SPIRIT OF FEAR”. That’s ridiculous. I’m going to move out of the way to avoid getting hurt. Again, God has invented physics. I know, if I move out of the way, I won’t get hurt. I don’t have to call upon God for divine intervention to avoid getting stabbed; I just simply have to move out of the way.

If you are in need of food, the answer isn’t to simply say “I trust God will provide me with  food” and never make a trip to the grocery store. Again, CAN He rain manna down from Heaven? Sure, He has before. But if Publix is around the corner, He’s most likely not going to rain down Cuban bread for you. He might provide the money somehow, but you’re going to have to get to the store to buy it.

So that brings me to COVID-19.

We should be calm and trust God. The world is in a panic and is watching how we are reacting. God’s people shouldn’t be marked by fear. We should not be those “doomsday prepping” (especially those hoarding resources for themselves at the expense of the sick and elderly), acting like a zombie invasion is around the corner.

But we should also be wise. We should consider those whose immune systems may not be as strong as our own and do our best to “flatten the curve”, as the medical professionals say. Wash your hands often. Cough into your elbow. If you’re sick, stay home and rest. Keep yourself away from immunodeficient people. Stay away from crowded areas (which is why I support churches closing and keeping their congregations safe).

As one wise man put it, love thy immuno-compromised neighbor. 

Let’s be calm, but let’s also make wise decisions.

And please join me and others in the SBC on March 15 to pray for those affected by the Coronavirus worldwide.

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Grace & Peace,

Christina

10 Years of Sanctification

This April will be a special one. It will mark 10 years that I have been following Christ.

I truly can’t believe this anniversary has come so soon. That fateful day feels like just yesterday.

Many of my anniversary posts are just a recounting of my testimony, and while those are great, this time, I’d like to do something a little different.

Because while God opened my eyes to His glory and Lordship on April 25, 2010, I am not the same person I was in 2010, 2011, 2012, and so forth.

God gave me some kind of spirit of discernment early on in my walk (I never like prosperity gospel preachers and, back then, I really couldn’t explain why, but something [the Holy Spirit] told me to be weary of their teaching), but that same gift and zeal for sound doctrine was abused for a few years as I bullied brothers and sisters in the faith for not holding to the doctrines ol’ important me thought were most important.

I thought I was strong and able to “handle difficulty”, but I didn’t realize just how powerless I was until I was thrown into a barrage crazy trials some years ago. And yet, during some of the darkest times of my life (as a believer), I realized I wasn’t nearly as hopeless as I had been during an earlier trial in my life (one that happened before I was truly saved).

And those trials humbled me. I began to realize some of those Christians I disagreed with understood the love of God better than my own “clique” did. I began to realize it is okay to disagree on certain things. We are a family. Family will never agree on everything, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are all brothers and sisters.

10 years is quite a vantage point.

From here, I can look back at things I asked of God and say “I am so thankful You didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted You to”.

It’s encouraging. And humbling.

My pastor recently said “I am not where I want to be, but thank God I am not who I used to be” and I couldn’t agree.

10 years ago, I thought I’d be this well learned theologian. I thought I’d written a book, be some kind of teacher, etc.

But 10 years ago, I was also too zealous for John Calvin and wasn’t zealous enough for Jesus Christ.

Am I still reformed? You bet.

Do I still think TULIP is the most accurate interpretation of scripture? Yup.

Am I still Cessationist? Well…I don’t really know. I’m beginning to lean Continuist, but I don’t really understand how the gifts work for the modern day church.

And that’s okay to say I don’t have all of the answers.

I do have one answer though: the Word of God is living and active, inerrant, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is the foundation for all of our lives.

As long as it doesn’t contradict something clearly laid out in scripture, we can have some friendly debates on things, but let’s remember that our unity is more important to God than getting to say we won an argument.

“Nobody has ever been argued into the Kingdom, but many people have been loved there.” – Chad Moore

Grace & Peace Saints,

Christina

Fulfill Your Ministry

One of my favorite Matt Chandler clips is the one where he talks about Mark Driscoll.

Chances are, most people nowadays don’t know who Mark Driscoll was. If you do, that’s awesome. But if you don’t, he used to be the pastor of Mars Hill Church. He was also the founder of the Acts 29 Network (which Matt Chandler now leads, ironically.)

Any who, if you do know Driscoll, you also know he had a pretty aggressive way of preaching (which I won’t get into now because it’s besides the point).

Well, in this clip, Matt Chandler is coaching pastors and, in essence, he tells pastors that, though Mark Driscoll is very good at what He does and God uses it, we are not all called to be Driscoll.

We can not emulate him and expect the same results because God didn’t call us to be Driscoll.

God calls us to be ourselves. 

We aren’t called to fulfill Driscoll’s ministry. We’re call to fulfill OUR ministry.

God has shaped you specifically for a specific purpose. Though it may be tempting to look at “success stories” and want to emulate them, the truth of the matter is that what worked for Matt Chandler, Beth Moore, John Piper, etc, may not work for you.

You’re not called to fulfill their ministry.

You’re called to fulfill YOUR ministry.

Your ministry may be at home, with macaroni and cheese covered fingers. And yes, do I know it gets tiring changing diapers and trying to constantly entertain children, but it may be where God is calling you for this season. 

Your ministry may be at that job you don’t like, surrounded by those people who always gossip about their sins around the water cooler. Sure, you can’t wait to get out, but maybe, you’re called to be the light in a dark place. You’re called to point one of God’s future saints to the light. 

Your ministry may be in a not-so-great marriage. We’re not meant to divorce one another at the first offense. Maybe God called you to a marriage that starts a little hard, but as time passes, you grow from the trials and your love becomes an example of God’s power and healing.

(And don’t read what I am NOT saying. I’m saying that, for some, the trials serve to strengthen a marriage. I am not saying not to divorce an abusive spouse. Just throwing that disclaimer out there).

Simply put, we are all called to different ministries.

Fulfill YOUR ministry.

What Is Your Witness?

A friend of mine and I were recently talking about work and she told me a story about her former boss that I would never forget. Let’s call my friend “Nicole” (to protect her identity).

Nicole worked as a secretary at a large firm. Now, Nicole’s boss claimed to be a Christian. He went to church (and drank of out of the church’s coffee cup every morning), had pastors as clients, and had bible verses hung up in his office. From what Nicole saw of him her first couple of days there, he was, in fact, a believer.

But his WITNESS didn’t match his WORDS.

See, people were scared of Nicole’s boss. He screamed at the secretaries that didn’t work to his liking (too slow, too many errors, moving things around the office, etc). He often yelled curses at them too. He was often in an angry mood. He was so bad that one of the paralegals at his firm quit, on the spot, after he berated her in front of the others in the office.

No, his witness didn’t match his words at all.

After hearing this story, I began to reflect on my own life. Do MY words match my witness?

Surely, I don’t go around cursing at people at work (or in general), but do I do things that endanger the validity of my witness?

What about the time that I didn’t give that homeless man something to eat?

Or what about the time I lost my patience with one of my kids in public?

What is my witness?

Now, I’m not saying that if you’ve messed up and “sinned” in public that you’re not a believer. We will struggle with sin until the day we die, so none of us will attain perfection on this side of eternity. We will all mess up in one way or another. Perhaps we’re short with our spouses or quick to snap at our kids one day. We haven’t suddenly “lost our salvation” because we snapped at our kid for refusing to pick up their room.

What I am saying is this; PEOPLE ARE WATCHING.

You may be the only Bible some people read. 

We live as ambassadors for Christ, representing Him everywhere we go; School, work, hobbies, among family, among friends, etc. Everywhere we are, there are people who do not know Jesus watching us and attaching our actions to Jesus.

What we do and say reflects on Christ and, when we act wrongfully, we give the wrong witness with our words.

And again, I’m not saying “do your best to never mess up so people think Jesus is awesome”. That’s unrealistic. We all mess up.

What matters is what you do WHEN you mess up. How does your witness speak to the ones you have wronged?

When you wrong someone (kid, spouse, friend, etc), do you pridefully stand your ground or do you humble yourself and seek forgiveness for not loving them the way Jesus loves you? 

What is your witness? 

Why You Should Sponsor A Child

By the time your done reading this blog, at least 150 children around the world will have died due to poverty.

(According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day because they lack the means to afford proper care).

Their deaths are preventable.

Organizations like the one I work for (Expect Hope) make it their mission to rescue children from poverty and provide them with food, clothing, shelter, access to healthcare, and most importantly, love.

But WHY does your sponsorship matter?

Well, for one, not every country is the United States. Many countries do not have the means to help orphaned children, so many of them end up on the streets, naked and begging for food.

Many of those same children are targeted by terrorist groups like ISIS or Abu Sayyaf who promise them the same things Expect Hope does, but asks them to pay a hefty price; psychological abuse and, at times, sacrificing themselves for the terrorist groups cause.

There is no Child Protective Services to call in many third world countries. There is no Medicaid, no Free or Reduced Lunch, and sometimes, there isn’t even an option for free “public school”.

There are children right at this moment, walking along the streets naked and barefoot, with tummies rumbling, lacking ONE thing above all else; HOPE.

You could bring HOPE to a child today. You can change a life forever.

Some may say “well, $35 a month is a big ask”, but is it really?

My HULU subscription costs more than that.

Taking my family of four to Chipotle just once a month costs more than that.

Buying three new shirts at Ross costs more than that.

The truth is $35 equals to about $1.17 a day. We spend more than that on Starbucks, McDonalds, or whatever brand’s coffee you enjoy.

Think about that. Skipping Starbucks for 8-9 days a month will literally rescue an orphan from property and give them HOPE.

You can literally be someone’s hero for just $35 a month.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a child, visit Expect Hope today and sign up to sponsor. Still have questions? Comment below and I’ll do my best to get them.

Somethings you just don’t have to pray for.

Jesus said when you care for the least of these, you cared for Him.

Will you?

All Things Work Together

This isn’t the first time God showed me that He kept me from something for a reason.

A couple of years back, I realized something I thought to be perfect wasn’t so perfect after all. It was almost as if I could hear Him saying, “See? That’s why I didn’t let you go down that path“.

And a couple of days ago, I got that same revelation from a different circumstance: What can sometimes seem to be a punishment from God is actually protection.

I know this isn’t a new revelation for some (or even for me). I’ve often referenced in the past that God’s protection is much like a parent protecting a child. A parent will say “no” to a child who wants to run in the street to protect them from getting hit by a car. Even if that child wants nothing more in that moment than to play in the street, the more loving thing to do, as a parent, is to protect them from danger.

But a few days ago, that truth hit me a bit harder.

Through a conversation with a friend, I realized that, during a tough time in my life, God isolated me, not to punish me, but to prevent me, in every way, shape, and form, from doing something I would later regret. At the time, I was too emotionally vulnerable to realize that heading down certain paths would lead me away from God. So, being a loving Father, He isolated me.

It wasn’t punishment. It was protection.

Also a few days ago, the church we were attending decided to go in a different direction. I could write an entire blog post on this topic alone (I won’t, so don’t worry), but suffice it to say while some Christians would be perfectly fine with a decision they recently made, I am not one of those Christians (and we can love each other, yet respectfully disagree).

I tried to join this church multiple times (In other words, get involved, serve, lead groups, etc), but something always came up. The night service we went to as a family would be suspended for summer, my husband’s work schedule changed (making him unable to attend morning services or small groups), etc. I kept wondering why God was seemingly putting up road blocks at every chance to prevent me from getting involved with this church.

Once again, something I thought to be perfect wasn’t so perfect after all. And again, I could hear Him saying, “That’s why I didn’t let you go down that path“.

Back to square one we go.

But this time, I’m not so dismayed.

Even though my church made this decision, it is still a great church led by amazing people who love God and love the city of Phoenix. I still learned and grew as a follower of Christ there.

I don’t know where God is leading us, but I do know one this: All things work together for the good of those who love God.

All things are working together still.

 

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

The Road Is Narrow

Yesterday, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across an article about Michael and Lisa Gungor. Honestly, I probably would have scrolled passed it had one word not been in the preview; Atheist.

Surely, “atheist” and “Christian artist” typically don’t go together, so I clicked the link and decided to see why this publication chose to use that word. They used it because that is what he considers himself now; an atheist.

This isn’t a blog post bashing Gungor (by all means, please spend time in prayer for him and his wife and pray that God opens their hearts and eyes to Himself once again). What this post serves as is a sobering realization that no one is safe from falling away from God.

I don’t mean to say that salvation is dependent on us or that we can lose it (because I think both of those are false), but what I do want to point out is (1) we are never in a “safe zone” with our faith and (2) there is no leader, celebrity, etc that is immune from sin.

To be honest, it hurt to see that someone like Michael Gungor had turned away from the faith. Someone who wrote songs like “Beautiful Things” and “Dry Bones” now would renounce those very words (based on my understanding of a few of his tweets and an article from his wife, but nonetheless).

It a sobering thought; any one of us could easily head down a slippery slope that could take us away from Christ and bring us to believe lies.

Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

As much as we may look up to Christian artists, pastors, teachers, etc, we need to realize that, at the end of the day, they are human beings with their own struggles and temptations. They are far from perfect, just as we are. They need community, the church, and most importantly Jesus Christ, just as much as we do.

I’ve often thought about those I started my Christian journey with. For those who don’t know, I had a blog on Tumblr and joined a community of fairly well-known Christian bloggers (within our own little community, of course). We were all young, restless, and reformed, ready to lead “the resurgence” in our own cities and spearhead this giant “revival” of sorts.

Many of those people have fallen away from the faith. Some have joined strange sects (that the reformed community would call heretical). Others just lost their passion for the Word of God.

Early in my walk with Christ, I met a group of college students who were passionate about the Word of God. I thought “surely”, these will be my life long friends who I stand with side by side to preach Christ to the world (or, at least, the city of Miami).

Some of those have also fallen away, lost interest, claimed heretical doctrines, etc.

And yet, some others have fallen into sin and fallen away from ministry (which is part of my husband and I’s story, if you didn’t already know that).

The road is narrow.

Man, pray for your leaders. Pray for those “celebrity pastors” that you listen to (Matt Chandler, John Piper, etc). Pray for the artists you enjoy music from. Road life is hard and the temptations are plenty. Pray for those you admire in the faith. Pray that your church stays away from false doctrines. Pray, pray, & pray, because only God has the power to keep a person. We get to contribute by praying, serving, loving, etc, but only God can keep a heart in His hands. Only God can change a heart to begin with.

May God keep us all until the very end so that we may hear those words, “well done, good and faithful servant”.

 

 

 

The Comparison Trap

I really struggle with comparison. 

I don’t know if it’s in my DNA or if it’s a result of the way I was raised, but one thing I know for sure is that I have always, and still do, struggle with comparison.

And only recently have I truly realized just how ugly that can get.

The ladies at my church are currently going through “Comparison Trap” by Sandra Stanley and, let me tell you, it has really opened my eyes to some darker places in my heart.

I’ve learned a lot, but one devotional in particular really stood out for me. In it, Stanley says “Every minute you spend comparing yourself to others is a minute you spend subtly accusing God of short-changing you“.

Think about that: Every time you compare your life to someone else’s life, you are telling God “Hey, You got this wrong. You owe me.

How stupid are we?

How stupid am I?

Let me tell you, I’ve had some messed up stuff happen to me. I, by no means, have had a perfect life…but I haven’t lived a terrible one either. I’ve been blessed beyond all measure. And just like the Rend Collective song, I’ve been learning to count all of my blessings. 

I’ve learned that if God keeps something from me, it was something that would have taken my attention away from Him. Maybe I don’t have that shiny new house or a really popular blog, but what I have is Him. He has blessed me in incredible ways. But He knows my heart more than anyone (the good and the bad).

Is it my dream to become like Beth Moore or Jen Wilkin? Yes. Do I still want to write books and give speeches? Yes. Would I love an opportunity to teach Christians how to navigate political spaces like Russell Moore? Yes.

But my dreams, realized or not, don’t define me. Christ does.

God uniquely crafted my gifts for a specific purpose (a purpose I haven’t fully realized yet, to be honest), and I plan on using every inch of my talents to bring Him glory and to spread the Gospel, but I won’t get to live that out if I waste my time comparing myself to others.

That road leads to sin, not sanctification, and it’s not a road I want to go down anymore. 

As Stanley often says, “There is no win in comparison”.

Let’s take that lesson to heart.

Grace & Peace,
Christina

All My Hope Is In Jesus

Today, I don’t have a fancy post. I don’t have a verse I want to focus on or a direction for a blog post. Really, today, I just want to remind you, my brother or sister in the faith, of one truth that God has been reminding me of lately:

God is good. 

Our God is so good and so trustworthy. Even in the midst of the most difficult trials, He is working things for our good. There is a freedom that doesn’t compare to anything else when we sit back and say, “My entire life, 100% of it, is yours Lord. Do as you will“.

This song has really reminded me of that truth, so today, I just want to share it with you and pray that it will encourage and inspire you as well.

May all of your hope also be in Jesus.

Grace & Peace,
Christina

Hope

I’ve always been attracted to the concept of justice.

Before I was saved, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant for my life. I simply knew things weren’t fair in this world and justice was lacking. I thought becoming a lawyer would help me become a part of the solution. It had been my dream since I was a kid to become a lawyer and help people. Through working at several law firms, God allowed me to realize He kept me away from that path for a reason.

And isn’t that always the case? Even some of most passionate dreams aren’t good for us. Romans 8:28 promises us that “… all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Everything works for our good, even the denial of some of our dreams. Even when the things we desire most never come to fruition.

Can I be honest? I am honest to a fault. That doesn’t mean I never lie (I’ve lied many times in my life, to myself and to others). What it does mean is that I can’t live a lie for too long. I can’t look myself in the mirror, knowing I am consistently lying about something, and continue to do so for too long before I eventually either walk away from everything and everyone associated with that lie or tell the truth, despite any and all consequences.

And that’s why I haven’t written in a blog in a while. I couldn’t honestly write to others, on a blog called “The Glass House Gospel” without acknowledging that I had closed the curtains on my own proverbial glass windows, unwilling to voice what was truly on my heart about my own doubts, questions, and struggles.

No, I didn’t walk away from the faith. On the contrary; Christ is my Lord, whether I am testifying to it joyfully or sobbing, barely able to whisper it out loud. That will never change. Whether I have much and am celebrating or have very little and I am struggling, Christ is always Lord. 

So, no, as I am today, I can not sit here and tell you my heart is full of overflowing love and faith. I struggle with loving unconditionally. I don’t want to be hurt anymore, so I withhold. My heart wants to love and embrace others fully, but I have been hurt so many times, it is hard to let go. I struggle with trust. So many people have broken my trust throughout the years, it’s hard to look at someone and not think “you will eventually betray me, so what’s the point?”

But there is one thing God has consistently provided; HOPE. 

This is where God found me back in April 2010. My losses were numerous. I had tried everything. Church didn’t work. Walking away from God didn’t work either. This “Christian” didn’t know where to turn. I truly felt in my heart, with the utmost intensity, the words of Solomon when he wrote “Absolute futility. Everything is futile” (Ecclesiastes 1:1).

It was there, in that darkness, that God found me. He brought me out of it all and, even surrounded by loss, I felt at peace. Everything was no longer loss. Now, everything was filled with an abundance of hope.

And somewhere along the line, I lost that tangible hope. But God is still faithful. 

Am I that person who is full of hope, love, and trust that I once was at 20 years old? No, I would be lying if I said that. But I am also wiser. I don’t see through such a small lens. I am not intensely angry at brothers and sisters in the faith who I disagree with. I am not so quick to judge others as I once was. I am not as self-righteous. I am not as prideful as I was. I now understand anyone can fall in sin, not just the “bad Christians”.

God is slowly working on different areas of my life. Some of the most painful moments of walk with Christ have been moments of God prying my hands from idols I wanted to worship in His place. And sometimes, it took a deep wound to get me to finally let go of certain idols. Some of those wounds still haven’t healed fully. Perhaps they never really will (not on this side of eternity, anyway). Maybe, like Paul, God has allowed a few thorns in my flesh to stick around so that I will never cling to those idols again. Maybe they are meant to lead me to the same place they led Paul to, so that I would believe fully the very same thing he did; His grace is sufficient. His power is perfected in weakness. 

I am wretched. I am an adulteress, constantly looking toward others things for fulfillment and meaning.

But God? He is perfect. He is righteous. He is holy. He is beauty. He is completion. He is justice. He is grace. He is mercy. He is love.

HE IS HOPE.

There is hope. As long as God reigns, as long as Christ lives, there is hope.

There is hope. 

God has not left us. It’s not over.