Open Letter To The Church: Sin Is Sin, So Why The Double Standard?

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning and clicked on an article a friend shared.  It was about this pastor Rob Bell and the apparent backlash he endured when he, according to the article “asked some questions about reconciling eternal punishment with a loving God, and he examined matters of life and faith that had become foregone conclusions to most believers.”  I haven’t read Love Wins so I can’t speak to what questions Bell asked within its pages.

While I was reading the article, I felt the Spirit of God stirring within me.  Setting off red flags and sounding warning alarms.  At first I shrugged off His warnings, assuming I just didn’t like the author’s voice.  But as I continued to read I couldn’t ignore the warnings any longer and I had to admit that something was just off – theologically speaking.

I nodded in agreement with several sentiments, mainly those pointing out that Christians have the tendency to label and ostracize people they don’t agree with rather than having tough conversations.  It’s so much easier to just write someone off than to wade into the uncomfortable.  But it felt like the author, in a way, was doing the same thing with the Christians who “abandoned” Bell.  He labeled them intolerant and went on to explain why Bell was a brave theologian asking the tough questions.

But never once did the author call out the elephant in the room.  Bell wasn’t simply innocently asking questions.  He was preaching universalism, which is the belief that everyone will be saved because of God’s unconditional love.  Um, nope.  I finished the article, taking away that God was reminding me of the importance of guarding my heart.  I figured it was a teachable moment and that was that.

But God pressed deeper into my heart as I was preparing to shower.  He does this on the regular.  I’m fairly certain it’s because it’s one of the few opportunities for me to be free of distractions.  As I was about to get into the shower He asked a seemingly random question, “Why did everyone commend Lysa Terkeurst’s strength and faith while so many of those same people commended Glennon Doyle Martin’s bravery for being true to herself?”

I hadn’t given much thought to either situations in quite some time, and certainly not that morning.  If you’re not familiar with either of these women, Lysa is a Biblical teacher and speaker, and Glennon is a Christian mommy blogger and author.  Lysa recently announced that she is leaving her husband because of his ongoing infidelity and refusal to put his vows before the desires of his flesh.  Back in August of 2016 Glennon announced that she was leaving her husband of 14 years for her close friend – a female friend.

When God asked me that seemingly random question, I did what I often do with His questions that seem to come out of left field.  I confessed my confusion.  So He asked me, “Why would people grieve with someone who has suffered at the hands of an adulterer when they cheered on an adulterer just a few short months ago?”  The only thing I could think of was that the people who  spoke out in support of Glennon weren’t supporting the adultery, but her decision to live the “lifestyle” that honored her true self.  God immediately pointed out that it’s not our call, especially not for those of us who wave the flag of Christianity.  We don’t get to decide which adulterous act is acceptable and which is not.  He drove His point home by telling me, “Anyone could have come to Art Terkeurst’s defense with the same statement – he was making a decision to honor his true self.”  Ouch.

 

“God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” – James 4:12 (NLT)

 

But here’s the truth God reminded me of – just as we are not to judge, we are also not to pardon either.  The Judgement Seat isn’t ours to sit in.  At.  All.

So, if we are not called to judge others, what are we called to do?  First, God calls us to love one another.  And by “one another” He is saying that His followers must love one another. (John 13:34-35)  We get into trouble when we love according to the world’s standard instead of God’s.  In love, we will tell someone to follow his heart, to do what she thinks is best, to be true to himself.  Unless we are simultaneously pointing people to the Truth, we are co-signing their self-indulgent ways.  We are telling them it is okay to idolize self.  God calls us to love people in truth, and to speak the truth over people in love.  Tim Keller put it so succinctly I won’t bother trying to paraphrase his words.

 

“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws.  Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.  God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us.  The merciful commitment strengthen us to see the truth about yourselves and repent.  The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.”

 

Here’s the thing, you and I can’t do this with people we don’t know.  I mean, we can try to on a superficial surface level kind of way.  But that doesn’t do anyone any good.  Unfortunately, all things social media invite us to start and join conversations that are meant to be had on a very personal level.  It may be safer for us to “talk” to someone through a screen, but God doesn’t call us to safe.

He calls us to have authentic relationship with our fellow believers, even though relationships are messy and uncomfortable.  But we are messy and broken people.  We may be saved but we are still wrapped in flesh.  And flesh rubbing against flesh is anything but comfortable.

Should people who walk away from the straight and narrow road be ostracized, or commended for being true to their true self?  Neither.  God encourages us to confront our brothers and sisters, first on a one-on-one level, then with another believer, and a group of believers if needed.  Waving goodbye to someone or wishing them the best as they walk away from The Way is not what God calls us to do. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Craving Community? Me, Too

Disclaimer: I wrote this sometime in the summer of 2015, so if you were at the get togethers mentioned or watched the scope I reference, you know they didn’t take place this summer.

I prayed before I wrote this because I have the tendency to edit as I write. I also chose to write it in a journal before posting it.  Here’s the prayer I wrote out.

Communion and Craving Community

Lord, clear my mind so I can have a conversation with You.  I want to let go of all pretense – to give up on sounding clever or relate-able.  I don’t want community based on smoke and mirrors.  I just want to share my heart.  My naked and broken heart.

I’ve been thinking about friendship and community a lot this year.  Questions like “Why don’t I ever hangout with my closest friends?” and “Why does my community seem to all be virtual?”  dominate my thoughts on the topic. I started to cling to the notion that my life would be so much richer if I got to spend time with my besties or meet up with members of my tribe for coffee.  Okay, not really.  We’d meet up for smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe since God made me naturally caffeinated.  I even half convinced myself that in lieu of getting to meet up with my besties or my tribe that I need to attend a conference or retreat every three months or so.  You know, for spiritual maintenance.  More like a mountain high experience fix.

I was at one such retreat/conference in June when I told Brooke, the woman sitting to my right, “I wish I could have this at home.  I wish I could have this all the time.”  I was referring to the intimacy, transparency, and grace that filled the room.  I went on to tell her that although I get along well with the women of my church, I didn’t have this.  She shared that she could relate.

Full disclosure – Totally unsure of what the Celebrate Motherhood Retreat was going to be like and not knowing anyone in the Happy Mommy Box community, I attended the pre-retreat dinner so I would be acquainted with someone, anyone,  the day of the retreat.  Yep, I drove almost an hour and a half so I would feel more part of the day of the event.  That, and I was hoping to meet Jess Connolly who I’ve been following on Instagram since before she moved back to South Carolina.  It was a little awkward that most everyone was familiar with each other through the Happy Mommy community and I had never even heard of the company before my friend tagged me in a comment for one of their posts.  But by the end of our post-dinner trip to Marble Slab I felt like we’d all been meeting up like this regularly.  And the next day, I totally scoped out the room and looked for someone from the dinner to sit near.

Just a few days after that amazing weekend, I caught Angela and Catherine of REFIT® Revolution on Periscope.  They were in a Chick Fil A line with two of Angela’s daughters in the back seat.  They were just doing life together and invited us to take a peek into that every day experience.  Towards the end of the broadcast Angela said that she doesn’t have friends that she does everything with.  And she was clearly disappointed by that.

So it got me thinking about community again and why I feel like I’m missing something.  Something about friendship and community that holds the key to contentment.  Something I assumed everyone had in their own friendships and communities but I didn’t have.  But the confessions of Brooke and Angela had me rethinking all that.

I don’t blog much (I’m totally tempted to add “anymore” but let’s be honest, I’ve always been a sporadic blogger) but I remember writing something along the lines of “God calls us to be in community.  First with Him and the with others.”  I don’t know,  maybe it’s in one of the many posts sitting in my draft folder.  Anyway, God totally said those exact words back to me and then said “You’re glossing over that first part.  That’s the problem.”  What?  “I spend time with you every day.”  Silence.  “I even took prayer walks after my quiet time for a couple of weeks.”  I felt like a kid trying to convince her parents that she deserved a raise in her allowance because she was doing such an awesome job with her chores.  Ugh.

That’s when the conviction set in.  “That’s hoops and legalism.  I want you.  I want your heart.”  I had to admit that a lot of my quiet time was about studying and not about spending time before a holy God.  I also had to confess that I would often enter my quiet time hoping that God would give me a Tweetable nugget of wisdom or the perfect Instagram quote.

None of that has to do with communing with God.  I’d love to say “I get that now,” but I knew that already.  The thing is my heart is bent towards legalism and works.  I can sit here and blame the denomination I grew up in, but it’s more universal than me or a single denomination.  Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been trying to earn or manipulate our way back into God’s good graces.  To work our way to good enough.

Before I could even try to devise a new and improved approach to quiet time, God whispered softly to me, “You’re looking to community to give you something that only I can give you.”  I can’t quite describe how I felt as that truth sank in, but it was like a mixture of relief and disappointment.  I was grateful to know that there as a reason that although I felt full when I left a retreat or conference that the feeling didn’t last long.  I knew part of the reason was that while a mountain top experience is meant to sustain me through the valleys, I can’t live up there.  Now God was showing me there was more to it than that.

The disappointment crept in when I realized that the solution was to do something I can’t really “do”.  I’m learning that communion with God isn’t’ about doing something, it’s about being something.  Humble.  Surrendered.  Vulnerable.  Willing.  As much as I want to be in the Lord’s presence and hear from Him, all that has me feeling pretty fearful.  And I’ve gotta tell you that my initial reaction isn’t to press into that fear, but to jump online and find a group of women who are in the same boat so we can go through this together.  But I know that isn’t what God is calling me to do.  I also know that He isn’t asking me to walk this out alone, either.

During the spring, on many of my post-quiet time morning walks I mentioned earlier, the Holy Spirit kept saying “Let’s do this”.  At first I thought He was pumping me up for the walk.  It was before the time change and it was scary dark out still, so I totally appreciated the motivation.  But as the weeks passed and He kept saying it I saw that it was more than a motivation to walk.  It was an invitation.  An invitation to what exactly, I’m not sure.  But I’m certain that God knows my heart.  He knows how I earnestly long to be in community with Him and others.  I trust that whatever “this” is that He’s inviting me to do with Him will equip me live the life He calls me to live.

Made to Crave: 21 Day FOCUS

MadeToCraveLifeGuard

Deeper Surrender

Have you ever found yourself surrendering an area of your life to God, again?  That’s where I currently find myself where food is concerned.   Specifically sugar and junk food. I’ve gone around this mountain so many times, it’s tiring.

I really thought the last time was just that, the last time.  I climbed up the mountain with the Lord as my guide,  victoriously put His flag in the peak of the mountain, and put my hands on my hips with my hair blowing in the wind as the Rocky theme music played behind me.

I thought I had won.

Then two years ago I got pregnant with my twin boys.  My mindset had to drastically shift from eating clean to eating enough.  Three thousand calories per day is not an easy feat.  People would find out about my new diet goal and say “Man, I’d love to be able to eat that many calories every day!”  I’d look at them, shaking my head.  At first I tried to hold on to my clean eating ways.  Then the protein cravings kicked in.  Big time.  I really should have bought stock in Wendy’s.  For real.  Although the people in the drive-thru didn’t know my name, they definitely knew me.  I’d pull up to the windows and be greeted with “Hey!  How are you doing?  How are the twins doing?”  For real.

During the first trimester the Floyd Twins did not like man made sugar so sweets weren’t an issue until the second trimester.  And although adding sweets into the mix made it easier to get closer to my daily caloric goal, I usually still fell short.

Fast forward to today.  The boys are about to be 15 months old, and I’m still eating like I’m pregnant.  Not as many calories, but no where near as clean as I once did.  Although on a very real spiritual level I know that I have been delivered from my sugar addiction, the simple truth is that my brain has been rewired.  And not for the better.

A Little Help From My Friends

So I’ve decided to circle this mountain again.  I’m going to pick up Lysa Terkuerst’s “Made to Crave”, an awesome book that God used in a mighty way to free me from sugar addiction nearly three years ago, along with the book’s 21 day devotional and climb back up the mountain.  But this time I’m bringing some friends with me.  I’m teaming up with my sister in ministry, Amia, to participate in the annual inneractive FITCLUB Swimsuit Confidence Challenge.  The theme of this year’s challenge is “Made to Crave”.

What Is the Challenge?

Spiritual motivation, group accountability, nutritional support, and fitness challenges.  We will be getting rid of all the necessary junk we’ve been carrying around {Hebrews 12:1}, the cravings that distract us from what we’re really longing for.

What Will I Do When I Accept This Challenge?

You will not be “going on a diet”.  We’ll be offering healthy, doable eating options, not strict eating plans that you’ll quit as soon as you think no one is watching.  There’s no freedom in counting calories and macros every day of your life.  Besides, if you’ve got a family you’ll want to model health and wholeness for your husband, and kids if you have them.

You will:

  1. Attempt the daily challenges (fitness, spiritual motivation, photo of the day, healthy food swap, stop drop and chug, etc) posted on the challenge page (details given in the weekly email).
  2. Share your journey.  Blog about it, Tweet it, post on Facebook, share on Instagram, or pin it on Pinterest.  You don’t have to post a before/after photo, but you can if you want to.  You can post about your goals (specific and measurable) and post updates.
  3. Be actively involved.  inneractive FITCLUB is a community of women who motivate and encourage one another while holding each other accountable to the goals we’ve each set.
  4. Commit to working out at least 3 days a week.  The daily fitness challenges can be incorporated however you like.  They can be your work out, supplement your already existing fitness regimen, or not done at all.
  5. Choose your scriptural anchor.  This is what you will meditate on to get you beyond the stuff that’s been hindering and tripping you up.
  6. Stay focused by interacting via social media:
    • Use the hashtag #CravingGod
    • Follow fellow participants
    • Follow hosts Reina and Amia (find Amia’s info when you sign up for the challenge)

How Do I Join the Challenge?

Head on over to inneractive FITCLUB to sign up for the weekly email.

I can’t wait to walk alongside you on our journey up this mountain to health and wholeness!

SnowyMountain2

Why Not?

I was looking over my Finish the Work list and God totally called me out on something.  The purpose behind the #100DaysofFTW challenge is to commit to finish things I started and walked away from as well as to start and complete new projects or tasks.  I’m not sure how intentional it was, but I neglected to put Beachbody coaching on my list.

I first became a coach in 2012 because I got hooked on Shakeology and wanted the coach’s discount.  I was super into couponing at the time and getting the discount was a no brainer.  I didn’t put any time or effort into helping people learn about the Beachbody mission or all the resources they have to help reach that mission.  I would gleefully share with people about how big of a role Shakelogy played in combating my sugar addiction, but stop short of telling them “You’ve got to try this!”  I’d have no problem telling someone that about a an awesome discovery like a cleaning product, a curly hair friendly product, or a wallet friendly store.  But I couldn’t bring myself to tell people they needed to give Shakeology a try.  I didn’t want people to see me as a sales person, because I am so not a sales person.

In November of 2012 Beachbody launched the Ultimate Reset, an all-natural alternative to harsh cleanses, and I was tempted to try it.  Three weeks of structured clean eating is just what I needed to get my eating back on track.  But the price tag was a hefty one so I planned to start eating better in the new year.  Besides, it would be pretty silly to try to eat better during the holiday season.

The new year came and went.  When spring rolled around my cousin told me that a girl at her work chatted her up about a Beachbody program that was on sale.  Her coworker told her that it helped people lose weight and helped curb cravings.  She asked me about it because she knew I was a coach (even though it was only in name).  I did a little research and it turns out it was the Ultimate Reset.  My cousin convinced me to do it with her, so we both ordered it. She ordered the challenge pack which included Shakeology and I ordered the regular program since I was already receiving the shakes direct shipping.

It was the most time consuming health program I’ve ever committed to.  But it was awesome.  I dropped 4% body fat and lost 8 pounds.  I was more excited about the body fat than the weight though, because my body fat percent has always been on the high side.  But more importantly, I learned to prioritize and manage my time.  I had to.  There was no other way that I could make all of my meals and snacks if I didn’t.

As a result of my experience with the Ultimate Reset I realized just how selfish I had been with keeping Beachbody and their product lines to myself.  So I committed to being a coach, a real coach.  Then I got pregnant with the Reset twins, as I affectionately called our boys for at least the first trimester.  It was a joke between my cousin and I because I told her that I finally decided to do the Ultimate Reset since I figured it would be a great detox in case my husband decided to try for another baby.  You know, clean house for a possible tenant.  We joked that my body was such a great environment for a baby that God decided to bless us with two.

Anyway, being pregnant with the boys and then subsequently having them left little time or energy to follow through on the whole trying to be a real coach thing.  I did try to watch videos and go through the coach office when the boys would nap, but quite honestly there are so many resources available to coaches that I was simply overwhelmed.

Recently my sister in ministry and I decided to truly commit to doing this coaching thing.  (As a former soccer coach I really wish they’d find another name than coach)  We’re going to go through the 30 Day Challenge Group for coaching.  Just like the challenge groups for any other Beachbody fitness or nutrition program, there will be accountability coupled with motivation.  My prayer is that I can get over my fear of the opinions of others long enough to be of service to women who are looking to live a healthier lifestyle.

We’re inviting other women to join us in this 30 day challenge.  If you have wondered about getting involved with Beachbody, either was a consumer or coach, this challenge group is for you.  If you are a coach, but only in name, this challenge is for you.  If you were a coach, but decided it wasn’t for you because – well, for whatever reason – this challenge is for you.

Why Not-

What have we got to lose other than the things that are holding us back from helping others?