God can handle a Donald Trump presidency.

There was a time in my life when I would have considered myself a political 'junkie.' I watched the news and listened to talk radio, constantly. I volunteered in 2004 and 2008 with the Republican Party. And actually enjoyed it. I hugged George W. Bush at one rally and shook John McCain's hand at another (see picture to the left? That was me dressed in red, white and blue at a McCain rally in Jacksonville, FL. Just in case you needed proof of the political "junkie-level" I'm talking here). I still remember the time that I had a "very important" question to ask (regarding the support and endorsement of Mike Huckabee) and I called in to Sean Hannity's radio show and was put on the air to discuss the 2008 election season for all to hear.

Judge me if you will, but I blame a lot of that part of my life on the fact that I worked a job in a cubicle. Being cooped up like that can do crazy things to the brain. 

But the truth is, for many years I put my hope in who I wanted and believed should become president. 

Honestly, I've debated blogging about this election season for two reasons: 

1) I don't, particularly, enjoy being controversial.
2) I don't really care who wins.

Now let me explain.

First of all, it may come as a surprise to many of you that I truly DO NOT like controversy. I can understand that. I mean, I'm currently writing a post on politics and mostly everything else I write about is on my faith - and everyone knows that those two things combined is a recipe for controversy. 

But on the flip side, I am a passionate person. Particularly one who is passionate about what I believe about the gospel. That Jesus Christ is the son of God, our atonement, the Savior who came to save us from evil/darkness/sin. And if what I believe about the gospel of Jesus is true, I must speak out. 

Especially when the rest of the world is chiming in and deceiving people. (I got yo number, Satan!) 

So anyway, I hope that answers the first reason.

Now, to explain why I said "I don't really care" who wins the nomination as the Democatic/Republican candidate and eventually, the presidential election. That is not completely true, because if i didn't care AT ALL I wouldn't be taking the time to write this post. But by "I don't really care" who wins, I mean this...

My hope is NOT in who becomes the President of the United States.

Amen! Praise Jesus. If you want, you could stop reading right now. Just that one line will change your life. I promise.

But to all my brothers and sisters in Christ, if you are still not convinced, let me put it to you this way - while this may not have been true just a few decades ago, it certainly is evident that this is the truth in 2016 - there is no longer a chance for a political candidate that could represent our country in a God-fearing, God-honoring, God-pleasing way to be elected as the President of the Unites States. In fact, they won't even get a chance at the nomination for the Republican Party. Not in this culture. Not in this day and age. Maybe, not ever again.

And please understand, I'm not saying this because I am bitter. I have no reason to be bitter. My candidate of choice has not lost, because I still don't know with certain who I'm going to vote for. 

I'm saying this because I believe it to be true. And I believe that the Bible (and Revelation, specifically) predicted it long ago. 

The problem with America (and the world, in general) does not lie in who is President of the United States. The problem with America (and the world, more importantly) lies in the heart of man

No matter what the history books say, our nation is no longer a Christian nation and we should not expect a Christian president. 

It's easy to blame the way our country and world is heading when we don't like the person in the "driver's seat." But, if you haven't noticed already, every politician is just saying what they believe people want to hear! They are trying to woo and win an audience. They are salesman. If it's not obvious to you by how many times candidates swap stances on issues, or mince words, or straight-up lie when the circumstance calls for it, then I don't know what will convince you.

You don't have to possess the gift of spiritual discernment to recognize that these men (and woman) running for office are not being completely truthful. Perhaps the one that is being the most truthful, the Trumpster himself, is actually the least presidential of them all. And by truthful, I am only speaking in the sense that he says all the dumb things without packaging it in a box of shiny, "politician" hogwash. 

There is a reason he is leading in the race for the Republican nomination and that's because people believe him. 

And maybe more than anything else, maybe more than even caring what values or plans of action the political candidates say they stand for, people just want to BELIEVE in something. In someone. 

So we may get Donald Trump as our President. Ridiculous as it sounds to write that, I am not even that concerned. Is he my choice? Hardly. But what I do know is that people are seeking authenticity. People are seeking someone who doesn't give a care about "political correctness" and is what they are. No more or less. 

I know many will say Donald Trump is far from authentic. And I'm not saying he isn't, but even the appearance of authenticity is enough for the cynics in our country. 

But in all of this I still have hope, because I believe God has a plan to use even this to draw more and more people to Himself. I mean, He planned for the fall of man, I think he can handle a Donald Trump presidency. And if you want some biblical comfort to that fact, if Trump does become president, Romans 13 says God actually placed him there. 

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.
— Romans 13:1

If our world is searching for someone to believe in, someone who holds to His promises time and time again, then they look no farther than the God of the Bible. He has never failed on a promise! And even when things look dark, He promises to be with us. 

So while I agree that we should prayerfully vote and prayerfully support the candidate we believe aligns with our values the most, let us not be hopeless when the choice appears to be the lesser of evils. 

I know the end of the story, and while I'm still studying to try and understand the details, I can tell you for certain - the world isn't supposed to start looking any godlier anytime soon. We know the only One who can change the hearts of man. Let's not try and pretend a presidential candidate can do that. Or more importantly, stop that. 

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God.
— Psalms 146:3, 5

When Christmas isn't enough.

It's the eve before Christmas Eve. The day before everything becomes a giant blur and we wake up with PCD (Post-Christmas Depression) wondering what just happened and where all our money went.

Or maybe that's just me.

But likely, most of you probably know what I’m talking about.

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Before we let these next few days pass as quickly as a slice of ham - I just want to take a moment to reflect on the reason we celebrate in the first place.

A Savior came for us.

I can get caught up in watching cheesy Christmas movies and baking cut-out cookies with the best of them - but nothing gets my heart going more than reflecting on Jesus coming to earth as a baby.

I'll be honest, for twenty-five Christmases that didn't really mean much to me. I mean I thought it was adorable and everything - Jesus as a baby, with shepherds and wise men bowing down to Him. I pictured the scene from The Lion King when Mufasa was holding Simba up for all the animal kingdom to see. Except, Jesus' crowd was a little smaller - but considering the angels - still epic, nonetheless.

Now that I've had two babies of my own, I consider so many other things about the infancy of Christ.

Like, remembering the first moment I laid eyes on my own baby boy's face. It was an overwhelming feeling that I've never been able to put into words. And one that I imagine overwhelmed Mary in a similar, and even greater way. Her baby boy was also God in the flesh. You don't have to be a parent to consider the awe of holding God for the first time. But somehow, I never really grasped it until I was.

I also consider things like the fact that Jesus would have once had to have his diaper changed. Talk about humility.

There is actually a common theme of humility strung throughout the story of Jesus' birth. From the unwed mother who carried him, to the unconventional place He was born, to the first people to learn about his arrival - Jesus was not sent to be royalty on earth. And yet, God chose for Jesus to be biologically carried full-term and born from a woman because, he wanted him to have a birthday. He wanted His Son to be celebrated. And from the moment the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of our Savior, the celebration hasn't stopped!

And thousands of years later we have an established calendar holiday for the birth of Jesus Christ - the day we call, "Christmas." 

But if I could be honest with you, Christmas Day as much as I enjoy it, doesn't quite seem like enough. First of all, it comes and goes so quickly (TWO MORE DAYS!) And I struggle to fit in every single tradition - decorate the tree, go see Christmas lightsread stories, open gifts, prepare food, watch movies, sing songs, eat food and enjoy being with family. Those are all wonderful things and great ways to celebrate, but if we were really to celebrate the birth of Jesus the way God intended it - I think we would do more seeking of His face and less stuffing of ours (but by all means, please do stuff your face - good food shouldn't go to waste!)

When you believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, just celebrating His birth isn't enough. He becomes worthy of celebration in the normal, mundane, every day of your life.

And this, my friends, is the most wonderful news of all! Good news to those of you who want peace, love and joy all year long. And good news to those who feel like Christmas Day is full of pain and a longing for better days. 

This Christmas will be a bit of a different one for us. We'll be missing some family members and utilizing the (great) invention of Facetime and social media to share moments with others.

But when traditions end, plans fall through and family can't be together to celebrate - Jesus still deserves to be.

And maybe, for some of you, this will be the first Christmas you really, truly see Jesus as the reason to celebrate. I can promise you, that once you do - Christmas will never be enough for you either.

 

American Christianity is shallow.

There are some things I don't want to write about.

I am, by nature, an optimistic person. One who desires to focus on the positive and believe there is a little good in all of us. But tonight, I came face to face with pure evil. A kind of evil that I didn't know people were actually capable of outside of cable television.

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I watched ISIS murder 30 Ethiopian Christians. 

And this just happened this week. There was another ISIS case of persecution/terrorism earlier this year (in February) as well - and I ignored it then. I can't ignore it again. 

I am not linking to the video, ONLY because I do not believe this is something everyone needs to see. But some, some may need to see it. I truly believe I was one of those people (even though, I really really wish I wasn't)

If I'm being honest, I haven't been very in tune with the world at large. I could blame it on motherhood and having young babies to care for, but I knew within 20 minutes after the news broke yesterday that Tim Tebow was going to be signed to the Philadelphia Eagles. (ESPN was on in the background as I was getting my kids dressed for bed and my ears perked up at "Tebow," what can I say?) I'm also pretty up-to-date on all of my engaged, newly married and pregnant friends thanks to social media. No, I think the real truth is that I have become so consumed with my comfortable American life, that I have become apathetic to the rest of the hurting world. 

Not intentionally. But not unintentionally, either. 

Can I be real about something? American Christianity is shallowMy faith is shallow. 

Every morning I get up, and never worry about dying because I love Jesus. Not even for one second. 

And let me tell you - lots of "worries" cross my mind. "Do I have to change another poop this morning? Can I sleep for five more minutes? Are we out of coffee?" Just to name a few. 

Like I said. Super shallow

I don't even know how I ended up here. With such a weak faith, I mean.

I went to Bible college. I married a pastor. I read my Bible. I pray... oh, do I pray. I listen to Christian music. I sing worship music. I spend nearly half of my week at church, for goodness sakes. 

But yet, I barely touch the surface of what it truly means to live for Christ. Not in the context of what my brothers and sisters in Ethiopia (and several other countries) are facing. I imagine they read and cling to these verses a little differently than I.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
— Romans 8:35-36

 

Have you ever stopped to think about why Christianity is so easy in America? 

And before you try to argue that it's not - can I point out that I just heard Miranda Lambert (and a handful of other artists) thank Jesus Christ for an ACM Award on national television?

For an ACM Award. 

They will surely live to face another day. In fact, they may even get a few iTunes sales out of it. 

And good for them. I am not saying this is right or wrong - but just a matter of fact. America, the land of the free. We have it good, don't we? Or do we.

America, with all it's fame and glory, has made a celebrity of Jesus. Christianity is just another genre. Pick a weekend show to attend. Hashtag your allegiance on social media. And don't forget to pick up your copy of our new worship album, when you leave. There is nothing inherently bad about any of that. But the reason Christianity is so easy in America, is because there is nothing really hard about any of it either. 

Saying you love Jesus in America, is like saying you love coffee. 

Some love it, some hate it, some are fanatically addicted to it. But nobody is really offended by it.  

And the heavy burden on my heart... is because they should be. They should be offended by Jesus. Because the gospel, the whole foundation of Christianity, is offensive.

And if you don't believe it's offensive, try telling that to ISIS.

After I stumbled upon "the video" earlier, and saw... the murder... the blood... I quickly turned it off. My mind couldn't process it as real. Not at first. It was just another gory movie. But then, my heart began to break. As I realized these were my brothers... soldiers of the faith... falling to their death because of the same faith I claim. Because of the same name I sing about every weekend. Because of a man who laid down His life for us... they were laying down theirs.

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
— Matthew 16:24-25

There are many who thank God for the blessing of being born in America. A country where we have the freedom of speech and religion. To believe strongly and voice those beliefs (like I'm doing right now) on a public platform. And I have been guilty of thanking God for this "blessing" as well. 

But I think we may have it backwards. 

I think the Christians being persecuted in the middle east are the ones being truly blessed. And I think our biggest question here in America should be... why is our faith so shallow? 

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
— Matthew 5:11-12