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)

Winning The Bathing Suit Battle

I wrote this as a contributor for Veva Health.

I didn’t want to share this picture.  In fact, I promised myself I would never share progress pictures or photos of me in a bathing suit.  Never ever.

Cropped Splash Pad Photo

Even as God was tugging on my heart to share it, I couldn’t bring myself to post it on Instagram.  I was relieved in an odd sort of way when I realized God meant for me to share it here, with the Veva community.  Although I’m new to Veva as a contributor, I have been reading the content for some time, and it feels like a safe place to share scary stuff.  You know, the kind of stuff that we surrender to God, only to pick it up again and again.  The kind of stuff that we’re hesitant to share with others, but so relieved when we finally do, and they say, “Me too!”

As a middle school teacher I do not get to participate in many play-dates during the year—they are usually scheduled for weekdays.  So, this summer I jumped at the opportunity to go meet up with some ladies from my Moms of Multiples group at a local Splash Pad.  I didn’t give much thought to what I was going to wear until people started posting questions and comments online.  Even after I planned to wear my tankini with khaki shorts, I overlooked the fact that I had to get into the water with the twins.  Bottom line, at some point either the shorts were getting wet or coming off.  Wearing a wet bathing suit home is one thing, but wet clothes is just uncomfortable.  My third option was to keep my shorts on while the twins and I chilled on the grass and watched everyone else splash in the water.  My play-date at the Splash Pad taught three very important lessons.

Lesson 1: I will not sit on the sidelines of my own life

I wasn’t about to not take the boys onto the splash pad. Instead, I opted to bare my legs for all to see. For a moment, I wondered if the other moms thought that as a fitness instructor with sixteen month olds that I should be more fit or toned by now. But, God lovingly revealed those thoughts to be lies from the enemy, so I sent them back to where they came from, Hell. Being present and active in my own life, and experiencing a first with the boys didn’t give me time to be consumed by body image issues.  Their joy (Andrew) and trepidation (Michael) forced me to get out of my head and live in the moment, and what an enjoyable moment it was. Well, except for the time when some kids accidentally sprayed water directly into our faces. But even that was kind of funny.

Lesson 2: I will capture the memories

I experienced horrible pregnancy acne with the boys. It was so bad I avoided having my picture taken and used as many filters as possible when it was unavoidable. I regret not taking more pictures to document my ever-expanding belly. God reminded me of that regret as the boys and I were getting ready to dry off.  I asked my dad to take a picture of us and trusted that in the years to come I would focus on our faces more than my thighs.

Lesson 3: I will step out in faith

I was shocked and confused when God first prompted me to share this photo. He knew about my promise and He knew the reasons behind it.  And yet, He nudged me to share it.  He gently told me to get over myself. That sharing the picture really wasn’t about me, but about giving other women permission—permission to get off the sidelines of life, to create memories and capture them without worrying about thigh gaps or giggly squishy bits, and permission to fearlessly be the women He has called us to be.  As uncomfortable as I was sharing this picture and the accompanying story, it was incredibly freeing to do so.  I love how faithful God is to use all things for the good of those who love and obey Him.  There is no greater reward than freedom through grace.

I pray that you will join me in doing and sharing some scary stuff to bless others with the relief of “Me too!” Use #lovebeyondlooks and #vevavida on social media to share your “Me too!” moments. If you want to win the bathing suit battle, check out our Bible study on body image: Love Beyond Looks.

What scary challenges have you faced lately?

How has God spoken to you? 

Made to Crave: 21 Day FOCUS

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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!

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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?