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

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

Fear Is A Liar

“Fear, he is a liar.
He will take your breath.
Stop you in your steps.
Fear, he is a liar.
He will rob your rest.
Steal your happiness.
Cast your fear in the fire,
‘Cause fear, he is a liar.” 

Have you ever felt afraid?

Maybe you were afraid for you life. Maybe you felt anxious, your palms sweating and your lungs short of breath.

Maybe it wasn’t such a “dramatic” moment, so to speak. Maybe you were afraid of what others would think of you. Maybe you were scared that nobody liked you and you were alone in this world.

Let me drag that fear into the light and say FEAR IS A LIAR.

Our feelings are real, but fear twists our perception and distorts the truth. It lies to us, shames us, and deceives us into making the situation 10X worse than what it is.

I remember the first time I heard that song I quoted earlier on the radio. It was as if God Himself wrote that song and sent it to the radio with a note attached that read “one of my daughters currently feels scared and anxious. Play this right now“.

At the time, I was feeling scared. The devil had whispered a lie in my ear and I took the bait. I was driving in my car, a million thoughts racing through my head, but when this song played, it’s as if God had said, “Daughter, none of that is true. You’ve been lied to. Just trust Me.” And He was right. It was a lie. Fear had taken something small and distorted it, robbing me of my peace and joy (If even for just a moment).

Today, I was looking at old pictures of myself and I realized something. (I’m about to get really transparent, so bear with me). See, I bought the lie that I was somehow unlikable. I truly believed, for years, that people just didn’t like me and never truly would. I believed that lie as recent as a few hours ago. People liked everyone but me, and because of that, I retreated. I didn’t go to events with friends, I spoke very little around people I didn’t trust fully, and despite being an extrovert who needs interaction with others, at the first sign of rejection, I completely abandoned friendships (for fear of them outright rejecting me first).

The fear of rejection had completely crippled me. 

But the pictures I found told a very different tale than the one I had chosen to accept as reality.

Here were a ton of pictures with groups of people. Tons of events I had been invited to, that I showed up to, had been documented. Things I had completely forgotten about. I was a bit saddened that I had chosen to hide these pictures in the first place, but it also brought me joy to know that it was a LIE that I was completely unlikable.

Had some people rejected me because I “fell” and wasn’t a “good Christian” anymore? I’m sure some did. Had some people stopped talking to me because I no longer had anything to offer them? Maybe. Do I think some people tried to rekindle a friendship with me after years of pretending I don’t exist because I was suddenly married to “Lawren” and it would benefit them? I think so.

But even so, it was not as prevelent as I thought. A small percentage of my “friends” were like that. Most weren’t.

I had been lied to, but the revelation of the truth felt like FREEDOM.

What lies have you been believing brothers and sisters? Where has the enemy managed to warp your worldview and steal your joy? We have FREEDOM! Look behind you! Your chains have been BROKEN! Fear can no longer hold you captive; neither can shame, sin, doubt, etc! Nothing can cancel out the cross!

Brothers and sisters! Read these verses from the very Word of God and take a breath from the fresh air of freedom!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” – John 16:33

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:4

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1

Confess your fears and rip them of their power over you.

Lay your fears down at the cross.

Choose freedom today.

Grace & Peace,
Christina

Lysa TerKeurst & Divorce

Divorce is never easy. 

Though I haven’t been through one, I am the child of divorced parents. Being that my parents divorced when I was a teenager, I have this odd upbringing of knowing what a “normal” family is supposed to look like, then suddenly having that taken away from me. I am no stranger to the negative consequences of divorce and, being a Christian and someone who passionately believes in Biblical Inerrancy, I don’t think God approves of most divorces.

That said, there are instances when God allows divorce and, if a brother or sister in the faith chooses divorce because of that specific instance, we can not call them a sinner or question why they “didn’t try harder”.

That’s not only unbiblical, but it’s a sin to treat our brothers and sisters callously. The Bible doesn’t say “all divorces are wrong”, but what it DOES say (in Romans 12:15) is to “mourn with those who mourn” (also translated “weep with those who weep“).

Which brings me to Lysa TerKeurst. 

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine commented on a Facebook post. I won’t call out the blog writer, so let’s just call their post “My Opinion On Divorce and Affairs“. After seeing my friend say he was disgusted by the blog, curiosity led me to read it for myself. What I found was mishandling of the Word of God and a shaming of a sister in Christ already going through a tough time.

And though the author may (or may not) deny that their blog post was about Lysa TerKeurst, it was most undeniably about a woman in her same situation. I will let you read Lysa’s blog for yourself, but to make a long story short, she is getting a divorce after dealing with her husband’s continuous affairs and substance abuse. She tried everything you’re supposed to try; prayer, counseling, couples intensives, therapy, etc. But her husband refused to repent and continued to sin, so she chose divorce.

She didn’t immediately divorce him (though, according to the Word of God, she had every right to). She tried to make it work, but she can only do so much if he refuses to change. Him not changing now exposes herself and her children not only to diseases, but to accidental exposure of substance abuse (and even possibly pornography, if that was a factor, which it usually is, but let’s not assume anything).

And once again, the Word of God allows her the right to divorce. 

Why then would the writer of the “My Opinion on Divorce and Affairs” blog ignore their biblical instruction to “mourn with those who mourn” and, instead, choose to assume she didn’t sleep with him enough, or she didn’t submit to him enough, or that she was too critical of him? Why, instead of offering words of kindness and compassion to a sister who is already going through so much, did she instead choose to anonymously refer to Lysa’s situation and criticize her by saying she hates that the women in these situations” fail to say anything they did to tear down their marriage,” (and that’s a real quote).

[Fact check: Most of the time, when one spouse brings sexual addiction into the marriage, the other spouse had NOTHING to do with that. It is an addiction that usually starts sometime in the teen years and had NOTHING to do with how available a spouse is or not. I’m not saying Lysa never did anything wrong. We’re all human and we all mess up. But Lysa, if you ever read this, that is NOT your fault. AT ALL.].

I’m not going to tear this blog writer apart. When I read things like this, I am tempted to (consider them literary temple tables, if you will), but I won’t. I would be no better than her, making assumptions about people I know nothing about. I will, instead, pray for her heart to be softened to the needs of Christian brothers and sisters.

And again, I don’t always agree with divorce. Even John Piper says that marriages can be saved after infidelity and, if you’re in that situation, you should try to save it. But given that Jesus HIMSELF said “I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery,” (Matthew 19:9, emphasis mine),  and given that I don’t believe Jesus ever contradicted Himself (especially within a couple of sentences) I will take His words literally. 

Lastly, I want to speak to Lysa (and every woman who ever finds herself in Lysa’s spot):

Lysa,
What you are currently going through is a trial of incredible pain and anguish. First and foremost, I pray for sisters in the faith to surround you and be able to lift your head on days when even that much will seem too hard. I pray for sisters who will truly “weep with those who weep”, who will stand by you, encourage you, and wash you with the love of Christ. At the end of the day, true solace only comes from Christ, but He does bless us with brothers and sisters in the faith who tangibly demonstrate His love in our lives. And I pray for this over and over for you.

I pray God restores your husband and breaks him from this sin cycle. I believe restoration is possible. I believe full healing is possible. But as Matt Chandler says, “God can, I believe God will, but even if God doesn’t.” I believe God can bring restoration. I believe God WILL bring restoration. But even if He doesn’t, He is still good.

Lysa, do not listen to ill-informed blog writers who choose sinful criticism over their command to weep with you. Many women are praying for you and your family. You are not a tool to be used to garner page views. You are a human being, a woman loved and cherished by Jesus Christ, a woman made in the very image of God.

God bless you and your ministry and may He not only be glorified in this chaos, but may many come to know Him through your transparency and continued service with Proverbs 31.

Grace & Peace to all.

Grace & The Unplanned Pregnancy

Last night, my church had a women’s meeting where we talked about Pro-Grace, a ministry that we have recently partnered with (I’ll provide a link at the end of the article for you to check them out, which I HIGHLY recommend, but I need you to read this whole thing first). While I was excited to hear more about it, something was said last night that angered me so greatly, I needed to calm down a bit before approaching this article.

I’ll tell you what was said later, but first, I need to tell you my story: a story of grace after an unplanned pregnancy. 


For the Christian who hasn’t been through an unplanned pregnancy, let me tell you what it feels like to be on “that side” of things.

The truth is, I had plenty of abstinence talks before everything happened. (I was raised in a very legalistic home, so I got that talk many times – trust me, I understood it). I made it through high school and some of college remaining abstinent.

But I made a mistake somewhere along the way.

(And while it is still somewhat uncomfortable for me to talk about it, after what I heard last night, I’m okay being uncomfortable if my story will convict others to act a little more like Jesus and a little less like a pharisee).

Let’s see this from my eyes:

I was 22 (almost 23). I ended up becoming pregnant. And my boyfriend? He was a youth pastor/director. He had just quit his “non-church” job, one he was doing well in, to devote more time to ministry. I also lost my job. They didn’t need me anymore, so they let me go. A million things ran through my head. My boyfriend would lose his position in the church (obviously). How would we get money? Where would we live? How were we going to do this?

And my friends? Family? Would people still talk to me after they found out?

The truth? Some did, but most pretended we didn’t exist.

My husband did lose his job as a youth pastor (rightfully so), and while it should be said that there were Christ-following believers that acted in grace and mercy (and I praise God for you guys to this day for that – you know who you are), there were many that didn’t. Many didn’t reach out. Many knew we were struggling, but it was no longer beneficial to be associated with us, so they stopped talking to us. To this day, I struggle with making new friends at church because I wonder just how many people truly understand grace and mercy.

And I got a good picture of just how misunderstood grace and mercy still is last night, but more on that later. 

Praise God that we were okay. My boyfriend (now husband) has management skills. He is an incredible leader, so when he went back to his old job (looking for a second job), they not only accepted him back, but asked him to quit the first job and paid him accordingly. That was God’s mercy and grace. God gave us a place to live. God provided many of the things we needed through family, friends, and hand-me-downs from people whose babies outgrew those items. God was so good to us. We ended up being more than okay. God was not quiet.

But the Church, the bride of Christ? The one that is supposed to emulate Christ? The Church was absent and silent throughout all of this.

Eventually, my (now) husband got an incredible opportunity to work for a place that paid well and had great benefits. I also started working at a different place (a place I enjoyed more, honestly). We were doing pretty well. We eventually went back to church (yes, the same church).

But things had changed. And some people wanted to make sure I didn’t forget that.

I have many stories, but I will simply tell you this one. My daughter was about to turn one. I was excited to attend a church event that many of my friends were also attending. My daughter was also being watched by my mother in law, so my husband and I were free to enjoy the evening baby-free (praise God for grandparents). Anyway, I saw an old friend of mine and walked towards her.

I expected a warm welcome, a “wow, I’m so happy to see you again!”, a “you’re back at church and I’m so glad to see that!”, but do you know what I received from this “friend”, a friend that I considered one of my “close” friends? A cold hug, a quick hello, and an “I’ll see you around” followed by her not talking to me again for the rest of the evening.

And words can not articulate how much that hurt. I was still “that girl”, the one that got pregnant and caused a pastor/director to fall. (And if you happen to read this and know I’m talking about you, just know I have more than forgiven you. I needed to share this. We all make errors in our judgments, but those errors can have devastating effects. But I have nothing but love for you).


I hope you’re still with me. You’re about to find out just what happened at that church meeting.

So now that you know my story, you know why the subject matter last night was sensitive for me. Anyway, because my church is a new partner with Pro-Grace, my pastor showed up at the end of the event and asked for comments and questions to bring to the CEO. As people spoke around me, I kept getting the feeling that people were missing the mark. I feel like God wanted me to share this story with everyone, but something stopped me from sharing. As women spoke at the end of the event, I prayed to God, asking for a “neon sign” if He wanted me to share.

He provided one.

One lady raised her hand and asked our pastor if we were doing anything to “help promote abstinence in our church”. She then followed that with “sign me up for THAT ministry!”,(implying that the other ministry wasn’t worth her time).

I can not even begin to describe the anger I felt after hearing that.

Was I the only one paying attention? Am I worshipping the wrong Jesus, one that goes to sinners and ministers to them in error? Should I be worshipping one of the pharisees instead, a “messiah” that says “forget the sinners, let’s all try to stay pure folks and get it right?”

That was my neon sign from God, but because I was so angry, I held back. Perhaps that was righteous anger. Perhaps it wasn’t. Either way, I stayed quiet and I didn’t share this story. I didn’t tell everyone that many people go through this, not just “poor kids who don’t know any better”.

I don’t want to assume she meant that with bad intentions. Perhaps she didn’t. Maybe she just didn’t choose her words correctly (because I absolutely think abstinence before marriage is the answer), but what if she would have told a young pregnant mother those words? That she wasn’t worthy of her time because she was no longer abstinent before marriage?

That’s what many people had basically told me when I messed up. I wasn’t worthy of their time. That’s not grace. That’s not mercy.

That’s not Jesus.

(And if you happened to read this, I also forgive you. We ALL need grace & mercy. So whomever you are, I forgive you because Jesus forgave me even after some terrible and pharisaical thoughts of my own).


I’ve made this post long enough, but let me end it with this: Jesus is a Lord of mercy & grace. Yes, He is also one of justice and He takes sin VERY seriously, but in His Word, it specifically says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Even more so, He is the Lord who spoke to that adulterous woman, a passage my church read last night. And what did He tell her? “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”. And what did He do before He said that? He didn’t leave her because she sinned. He met her need. He handled the pharisees. Then He spoke to her.

He handled a physical need of hers before even speaking about her sin. 

I will leave you with that same passage to read, the very passage that inspired The Glass House Gospel in the first place. I pray that God opens your heart and speaks to you as you read His Word. May we never throw stones at others, especially in the name of God, when we are still so very sinful ourselves.

Grace & Peace.

(P.S. Here is the link for Pro-Grace. Please check them out and share them with your pastors. I strongly feel every church can benefit from them. Let’s become the alternative in the abortion debate. Let’s be Jesus in a place He is greatly needed.)


JOHN 8:2-11 (CSB)


At dawn he went to the temple again, and all the people were coming to him. He sat down and began to teach them.

Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They asked this to trap him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse him.

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only he was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

(Emphasis mine)

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Julie, I expected a lot to be different. I understood that a baby meant a lot of changes. I knew we (my husband and I) would have a lot less space in the house as her swings, playmate, crib, etc moved in, that we would have this tiny new human that relies solely on us for everything, and that I was responsible for teaching her about Jesus and what it meant to be a child of God.

I knew everything was about to change, but to be honest, one truth didn’t quite hit me until my second daughter, Janeen, was about half a year old. No one really told me this one thing; When you become a mother, there are things you will have to give up in order to raise your kids the way God intends.

It sounds like common sense, but hear me out.

For my entire life, even pre-Jesus, I was a writer. I was even voted “Most Likely to Become an Author” in high school. Everyone knew me as a writer. It was my identity. I also love speaking and teaching. After I became a Christian, I made numerous blogs about Christian Living. I had time to serve at church in multiple ministries, be part of small groups that hung out until 1AM, and even had time to go out with friends and spread the Gospel to Miami.

Fast forward to my family living in Phoenix with one more daughter added to the mix nd things are so different. We have a great church that we love, but I don’t have the time I used to. I can’t serve in multiple ministries. Who will watch my kids while I do so? I can’t hang out at a small group until 1 AM. My kids get cranky after 9PM or so. I can’t just go out late at night and evangelize in downtown Phoenix. The kids can’t tag along (they get cranky at 9PM, remember?) and my husband is busy enough (having a full-time job and doing music).

When I decided to rebrand my blog as “The Glass House Gospel”, I told myself that I would get more serious about my blog, which meant posting every other day and promoting on social media. I had even started making graphics on Instagram and posting them every morning to promote my blog.

But I had to stop myself. Sure, I was being successful at blogging…but what was paying the cost of all my attention going towards my blog?

It was my kids.

God really had to do a work in my heart. I adore my kids, but it was hard letting go of working on my dream to “be a famous writer” in exchange for focusing on teaching my kids while they are little. There will be a time when they are in school when I can focus more attention on things like writing a book or making blog posts. But for today, in this season, the time is simply not there. And even though I believe the ability to write came from God to glorify Him, this isn’t the season for me to really focus on that. The truth is, in this season where my kids are little and my husband is really busy, there just isn’t time to do everything. Something will have to give.

No one really sat me down and explained this to me.

Mothers (and soon-to-be mothers), can we just be honest? Motherhood is hard. It really challenges you. As your kid grows and enters different stages of development, the challenges also get harder. There may be things you truly enjoy that may have to take a backseat for a while. Just keep in mind that it is just a season. Our little ones are only so little for so long. Enjoy them while you can, praise God for them, and raise them to know and love Christ as best as you can, praying for His grace and mercy along the way. The time may come when you can pick up that ministry that you love doing again, but for today, your most important disciples are pulling on your leg and asking for another cookie.

 

The Terrible Lie

This past week, I bought my daughter the Jesus Storybook Bible (which I highly recommend, by the way). We’ve been reading a couple of stories each day and one particular line really stood out to me.

In the story of Adam & Eve (named “The Terrible Lie” in her Bible), after Eve encounters the serpent and takes a bite of the fruit, it says:

“And a terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children: ‘God doesn’t love me’.” 

God. Doesn’t. Love. Me.

I can’t tell you how many times I believed this lie in my heart, both before I came to really know Christ and after. Sometimes, my jealous heart sees people experience certain things that I never did (and probably never will) and that small, cruel voice whispers once again “See? God just doesn’t love you like He loves ______“.

But it’s a lie. A terrible lie.

Adam & Eve, people who had direct contact with God, sinned against Him and hid from Him in fear. Even after this, God loved them enough to make garments for them so that they would no longer be naked. They sowed together fig leaves to make clothes that probably barely covered them and God lovingly made them better clothes, even after they sinned against Him.

It says in Genesis 3:21 that God made “garments of skins” to clothe them. If you think about it, God had to take an animal, a sacrifice, to be able to clothe Adam and Eve. Something had to die, because God loved them so much, He didn’t want them to be naked. God would, once again, send a sacrifice to cover His chosen ones, but this time, the sacrifice would be His son and He would lay down his life to cover (and pay for) their sins once and for all.

God did this because He loved you that much.

I hate saying the phrase “everything happens for a reason”. It’s really cliché and, when someone is suffering, it’s not something they want to hear. Nobody wants to hear “everything happens for a reason” when a loved on has passed away or when they are going through a tough trial, but the truth is the Bible preaches a similar truth (though the differences are noteworthy).

It’s actually my favorite verse.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

This is not true for those who don’t love God. But for those who do, for those who are called by Him, all things work together for good. It is so very hard to see that sometimes, especially when we go through the toughest of trials, but this rich Biblical truth is there for the taking.

It is God Himself saying “Don’t believe the terrible lie. I love you.”

But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, freely give us all things?” – Romans 8:32

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Don’t listen to that voice. God loves you.

Don’t believe the terrible lie.

Untouchable

 

WE ARE UNTOUCHABLE. 

As Christians, there isn’t a thing anyone can do to mess up the plan of God. Because of that, we are UNTOUCHABLE until God calls us home. We have no reason to fear accidents, bombs, terrorists, diseases, attacks, and ultimately death. If God has a purpose to accomplish through us, and that work is not yet done, we are untouchable.

God WILL accomplish His purpose through us, no matter what happens. There is nothing we can do to mess that up. There is nothing anyone else can do to us to mess that up either. Nothing in Hell or on Earth has the ability to one-up the Lord, the Creator of everything that has ever existed.

Matt Chandler once put it this way in a sermon: “Nobody dies early…I am untouchable until it’s time“.

Because we are untouchable:

  1. We know that this life is temporary and that our true citizenship is in Heaven. Our lives are not about amassing wealth or creating as safe a living space as possible. Our hope is not in how much a dollar is worth or how powerful we are. Untouchable Christians know that their purpose on Earth goes beyond themselves. Our purpose is to bring glory to God, which sometimes means entering spaces completely devoid of Him in order to shine His light into the darkness.
  2. We don’t have to fear death. As Matt Chandler said, nobody dies early. This doesn’t mean you should test God by jumping off of a cliff to see if He saves you (though, there are many powerful testimonies of people who genuinely wanted to end their lives and God didn’t allow it). This means that death is not something we need to fear. As Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). If we live, then we live for Christ. If we were to die, it would be gain to be with our Creator. Untouchable Christians believe this and know, because they are living sacrifices for Christ, death only comes once God allows it to be so.
  3. We can look at “less than desirable” circumstances and see them as instruments of mercy and grace. For some, death isn’t what strikes fear in their heart; it’s being alive. We live in a depraved world, surrounded by the consequences of sin. Everyone is broken in one way or another. Some are more broken than others. Some have gone through traumatic events in their lives, events that replay over and over in their minds. For those who have considered taking their own life, I am not minimizing what you have been through. I’ve been there where you may find yourself today. I understand fully what it feels like to dread waking up tomorrow. What I am saying is this: God can use the darkest moments in your life and turn them into your greatest ministry. Untouchable Christians know that God allows things into our lives for reasons we may never know, but ultimately, we can be confident that He will not only be our comfort for those dark moments, but He will use those things to help us minister to others in similar situations.

Hear me out here: Your Lord, Jesus Christ, calms the winds and the waves. He heals the sick. He gives sight to the blind. He drives out demons by speaking to them.  He brings the dead to life, both physically and spiritually.

He spoke every single atom into existence. He wired your brain to be able to interpret letters into language. He gives your lungs permission to breathe their next breath. He controls the thermostat on Earth, making it the PERFECT temperature (one degree off and we would perish). He is the ring leader that controls the “circle of life” around you. The plants turn light into food because He made it so. They create the oxygen that is vital to you because tells them to.

Listen to me: 
YOU ARE UNTOUCHABLE UNTIL HE CALLS YOU HOME. 

Grace & Peace

The Glass House Gospel

What is the Glass House Gospel? 

As you may have noticed, my blog, which was once known as “ChristinaXArteaga” is now called The Glass House Gospel. You may also have noticed references to “living in a glass house”. While I could explain the origin of the name and all that it entails, I will simply say this:

The recurring theme in this blog is transparency.

Personally, I believe it’s an area a lot of Christians could work on. We’ll say we struggle with a few smaller disciplines (“I need to pray more”, “I need more devotional time”, etc), but we never want to admit we struggle with the “big sins”. This lack of vulnerability, in an age where (seemingly) perfect lives are a click away on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, is not only conforming the church to the image of the world, a world that pretends to be as perfect as possible, but the lies are tearing the body of Christ at the seams. I mean, do I really need to bring up all the pastors who’ve been disqualified from ministry in the past couple of years? I truly believe a lot of those things could have been prevented had they come forward before chaos ensued and said “I’m struggling in this area of my life”. I’m not removing personal responsibility by saying this (their sin is their sin), but what I am saying is this; if people don’t feel like they can be vulnerable with one another without judgment, they’ll end up lying to stay in good standing.

And that is NOT acceptable behavior from the people of God.

Let’s make some things clear:

  1.  We have no secrets. We may keep secrets and lie to those around us, but God knows everything. As the Word says, “be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23)
  2. Our lives are on display ALWAYS. Especially in the age of “viral videos”, everything you do (for the most part) is seen by others. Whether it’s a “secret” affair you had or you cursing at a waitress, there are other people around you who see your behavior. If you proudly proclaim you know Christ, whatever you do will be attributed to Him. You’re an ambassador for Christ 24/7: There is no off switch. (And in most cases, once you’ve ruined your testimony with someone, you’re never getting that back).
  3. We shouldn’t throw stones. The fact that God knows all your secrets should be enough to persuade you to put the stone down when you start wanting to condemn other people, but sometimes we’re hard-headed. Remember that old phrase “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones“? The same principle applies. We’ve been saved by grace through faith. You have no reason to boast.

Let me make something else clear: I’m not perfect. I will never claim to be. This blog isn’t about me pointing fingers at pastors and churches and saying “you guys are horrible”. I am a beggar telling other beggars where to find bread.

This blog is about authentic gospel-centered living (instead of just sugar-coating everything). It’s about starting conversations about real-life struggles and trials (instead of pretending those struggles don’t exist). It’s about creating dialogue in small groups about having “iron sharpens iron” accountability (instead of calling asking how someone’s weekend went “accountability”). It’s about showing the world a real Jesus who saves real people from real sin (instead of an angry Jesus who condemns everyone or a lying Jesus who doesn’t care about sin at all). It’s about showing the grit along with the glory.

It’s about the Glass House Gospel.