The Crooked Path: A Redemption Story

Until recently, I thought a childhood that included an introduction to Jesus seemed normal in America.  More often than not, individuals stray from a childhood relationship with Christ.  Perhaps we stray in High School or College with poor decisions.  Sometimes that straying is a conscious decision to pull away from God as a result of a life event.  In nearly every case, it’s a result of the enemy meddling in our thoughts and with our hearts.

It becomes a crooked path from Christ, away from Christ, and hopefully back to Christ.

In the book “Saving Me From Myself” by Brian “Head” Welch, the reader is taken through a biographical example of how a child accepts the gift of salvation and then crumples under the snare of Satan. The story of Brian, as the former lead guitarist for the metal band Korn, is fascinating from several levels.  It shows the long-term impact of evangelism. It illustrates the persistence of the enemy. It demonstrates how far we can veer from a righteous path. It shows the absolute beauty of grace and redemption.

I read this book, cover-to-cover, in one night. It was a story that kept me turning pages into the wee hours of the night…long after my typical bedtime.  My fascination with Brian’s story was driven by his return to Christ.  Our God loves us through thick and thin.  He loves us when we are disobedient.  He loves us when we make horrible decisions.  He loves us when we return.

Each of us has a story of the enemy trying to impact our lives.  Each of us has an even better story of that grace and redemption. Brian chose to share his story very publicly through total life style changes, through quitting the band, and by publishing multiple books.

Some thoughts to ponder:

  1. What is your story?
  2. How has the enemy meddled in your life?
  3. How have you persevered in your walk with Christ?
  4. Who are you telling as an example of God working in your life?

Remember that no matter what your story is and how you’ve traveled…God loves you.  Your crooked path has a chance at redemption.

~Emily

“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” ~Ephesians 1:7

Save Me Cover

Truth Talk

I want to do what you do, so what advice do you have for me?

Recently, I witnessed a younger Airman asking a retired Chief Master Sergeant about how to become a Special Operations Airmen within the Air Force.  For those unfamiliar with the special operations community, it’s not easy. Nor should it be. These Airmen are the elite of the Air Force and as a result, they are very selective on candidates.

The Chief said, “Train hard. Be physically, mentally, and spiritually ready.  Love what you do right now.”

The Airmen responded, “Well, I currently work on computers, so I’m behind a desk all day.  I hate it. I want to be doing something I’m passionate about.”

The Chief asked, “Are you good at computers?”

“I’m alright; I just want to be in a job that I’m passionate about,” said the Airman.

The Chief then responded with a mic drop, “If you are only an ‘alright’ computer guy, you’ll just be an ‘alright’ special operations guy…and we need excellence; not just alright.”

Whoa.  Dreams dashed. Balloons popped. Hopes crushed.  And yet, I was incredibly proud of the honesty this Chief provided this Airman.  Truth talk sometimes is brutal.  In my experience, truth talk is lacking in most people’s life.

As followers of Christ, we are not called to mediocrity.  Rather, we are called to greatness.  God does not expect us to be an expert in every aspect of our lives. However, He expects we will work diligently to be the best we can be.

“Whatever you do, do your works heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…” ~Colossians 3:23

While you aren’t expected to be an expert in a particular field, you should be your best to bring glory to God.  If you are attempting to be your best, you will be one of the best.  Even if you aren’t the best amongst your peers, you will then be your best for your God.  It does not glorify God when we settle for less than our best.

Let’s look at why mediocrity dishonors God, rather than glorying Him.  As followers of Christ, everything we do reflects upon who our God is. We are the ambassadors for the Kingdom. Thus mediocrity does not encourage non-believers to know Christ.

We may not like our job.  We may actually hate our jobs.  It might be a career or it might be an entry-level job.  Either way, dislike of the job is unacceptable when you consider that the associated emotions reflect mediocrity.

First, let’s offer gratitude to God for having a job. There are plenty of Americans struggling to get or retain a job.  If we settle for mediocre work and continuously complain about our job, we are not glorifying God.  We are insulting Him. And we are insulting those who would gladly take any job.

Second, consider giving God the glory of the job outcome, rather than focusing on the dislike of the job taskers.  You may not feel like it’s a glorifying job, but it’s truly not about you. It is about Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:16 states “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.”

The bottom line is this…it doesn’t matter if you are or you want to be a special operations Airmen, a computer specialist, a writer, a stay at home mom, an event planner, or a cashier…if you are attempting to be your best, then you will be your best.

And as your best, you bring glory to God.

~Emily

 

 

The Empty Seat

If your child didn’t get off the bus, would you worry where they were?  If you went to the hospital to visit your loved one and they weren’t in their assigned room, would you worry where they were?  If you had a business presentation and your partner was running late, would you worry where they were?

Of course you would! The woman inside of each of us would worry about where those individuals were and why they weren’t where we were expecting them to be.

Let me ask you a harder question.  Do you worry about the empty seat next to you at church?

I’m not asking about the seat that is empty due to sickness, injury, or planned vacation. I’m asking about the seat that is empty due to spiritual sickness, lukewarm responses to the Gospel, or flat out thinking there’s something more important to do than sit in the House of the Lord.  We are not speaking of the empty seat due to plans that backfired…we are talking about the empty seat due to someone not even planning to sit there in the first place!

This empty seat is unable to sing glory to God.  The empty seat is unable to testify to answered prayers.  The empty seat is unable to witness to the newcomer.  The empty seat is unable to serve. The empty seat is unable to teach.

But the empty seat is not silent.  No. It’s not silent.  It tells a story of apathy.  It tells a story of an Easter-Christmas Christian.  It tells a story of lukewarm faith.  This is a tragedy for the walk of the lukewarm Christian’s life.

Understand this…God does not want a lukewarm reception, nor does he want a lukewarm follower.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” ~Revelation 3: 15-16 (ESV)

Both Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18 & 24 state that the church is the body of Christ, over which Jesus is the head.  If you are a follower of Christ, then you know you should be attending church. This is where you connect with God, where you worship God, where you focus your prayers, and where you fellowship with other Christians.  In short, it’s where you are an active part of the body.

As I write this, I want to be clear that I acknowledge that I am often the empty seat.  It’s all too easy to sleep in on the only day of the week that is alarm clock free.  It’s easy to let errands and chores take precedent. It’s easy to make excuses that I don’t want to sit by myself when my husband is out of town or working.  It becomes a slippery slope of not going. One Sunday becomes two; two becomes three; three becomes a full month, and so on. Suddenly, it’s been months or years that the seat has been empty.

“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” ~Hebrews 2:1

I know I should be in church. I know that the Bible states church must be a priority in my scheduling. To not go is tragedy.  It’s a tragedy that causes our Lord sorrow.

 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” ~James 4:17

The empty seat represents a lack of spiritual preparedness.  It represents a willingness to allow the world to be more important that the Lord.

If women worry about an empty seat on a school bus, in a hospital room, or the boardroom, then we should certainly be concerned with the empty seat in church!

Ladies, this is our chance to exalt the Lord, to learn, to encourage one another…and frankly, these are the front row seats to Heaven that we are discussing!  We are talking about seats for our children, our neighbors, our friends, our families…and we are absolutely failing them if we are not filling the seats of our churches!

Let’s start with assessing ourselves to ensure we aren’t the empty seat.  Then let’s start to look at the empty seats around us to see if there are members we should encourage to come back to church so they can fill their seat.  Finally, we need to seek the unbelievers, so that they can fill empty seats reserved for them.

Churches should be busting at the seams.  There should be a distinct need for additional service times.  It should be standing room only.  There shouldn’t be even one empty seat…

~Emily

 

Sprinkle When You Tinkle

White-Elegant-Victorian-BathroomI just wiped a grown woman’s urine off of a public toilet seat. Literally. I took wipes out of my purse (I’m a mom, of course I have wipes in my purse) and I literally wiped down a toilet seat. In a public restroom.

I get that there is a ‘school of thought’ that you get heebie-jeebies from toilet seats so you don’t want to sit down. I admire the strength of your thighs to hold you in the “hover position.” But if you don’t want to sit on germs, what on God’s green Earth, makes you think I want to sit in your PEE?!?!?!?!

I don’t even want to clean the toilets that I own. I certainly don’t want to clean a public toilet. However, I don’t want to sit in someone else’s urine even more!

It makes me question the woman who was in here before me. Why did she do that? Why did she squat, pee, flush, see pee on seat, leave pee on seat, and walk out…presumably to wash her hands? I can’t wrap my mind around the ‘why’ of this scenario. I want to face-palm my forehead while asking “why?!?!”

While a little “sprinkle when you tinkle” is trivial to some, it may be truly detrimental and disgusting to others.

The same is true with sin. Sins can be perceived as trivial to some while devastating and reproachable to others.

God sees all of the sin. Is one trivial and another grandiose? Do you think that one sin is greater than another in the eyes of the Lord? Do you ever stop to think that maybe…just maybe…God wants to face-palm His forehead screaming “why?!?!?” when we act sinfully?

Isaiah 1:1-8 talks about how God sees the persistence of sinful people rebelling against Him. Furthermore, the Bible discusses how God acknowledges that we are a broken people who may be generally good at heart, but must be rejected because of our sinful nature. Flip several chapters to the right and find that the New Testament offers us salvation through Christ on the cross. Our sinful nature should get us immediately rejected. Instead it is forgiven when we accept Jesus as our Savior.

Sin is sin to our Father. But sin is forgiven by the act of Christ’s crucifixion and our acceptance of that gift.

He might be face-palming some of our decisions, but He has also provided the wipes to clean up the mess.

~Emily

Let’s Be Ruth

When I was in the 3rd grade, my friend talked me into cheating on a spelling test. Then she told the teacher.

When I was in High School, my first boyfriend told me he loved me. Then he took another girl to prom.

When I arrived at my first base as a new military member, I had a roommate who was super friendly. Then she started stealing my clothes.

Anyone can look back at relationships and see where dishonesty and deception occurred. It has happened to all of us. Each of us can also look back at relationships and see where honesty, love, and support occurred. We value the comfort and joy in a relationship that is built on loyalty.

Whether a spouse, significant other, best friend, co-worker, extended family or countless other relationships, humans crave the comfort of knowing the relationship is on a solid foundation of truth. That is the solid foundation of truth that God provides when we accept a relationship with Him.

In Ruth 1:16, God provides us with a look at a relationship fully vested in loyalty. As a widow, Ruth tells her widowed mother-in-law that she will stay with her through thick and thin. She vows to resist any pressure to break their relationship. She makes a lifelong commitment to another. She abandons her allegiances with others. She willfully makes a connection through God with another.

Ruth 1: 16 (NIV) “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

Ruth 1:16 (ISV) “Stop urging me to abandon you and to turn back from following you. Because wherever you go, I’ll go. Wherever you live, I’ll live. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.”

Ruth 1:16 (KJV) “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go: and where thought lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”

Ruth 1:16 (NLT) “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go: wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

The beauty of this verse is that it is relevant in any version. You see the fierce determination of a daughter-in-law to stay with her mother-in-law. You see a relationship that is full of loyalty, commitment, and allegiance. You see an example of a relationship that God wants with us.

While sitting on the iron porch, my prayer is that we all experience this type of loyalty, commitment, and allegiance. I pray that we each experience it with our God, as well as with our spouses and families and in our friendships. Each of us can decide we want to be the Ruth in our relationships. Let’s be Ruth.

~Emily