In a previous post I addressed the fact my desire for certain types of music had been changing. It’s no so much if the song is labeled Christian versus Secular…it’s the message in the song, or at least the message I perceive from the song.
When the show “Empire” first came on the air, my husband and I watched it like clockwork. It is a gritty show, but with our correctional experience it showed the underbelly of many things in society. (Not a race thing, I am talking the criminal enterprises that seem attached to nearly everything.) We also liked a lot of the music that came out of the show. One song that I belt out in the Jeep on the regular is “Conqueror”, it is a secular song, but it speaks volumes to the attitude I need to have in my life…in every area of my life.
One of the key songs in the first season and you hear it in the preview is “No Apologies”. One of the lyrics really spoke to me earlier this week, “…I say what I want with no apologies, I do what I want and say what I want with no apologies. They get mad, I keep on talkin’…” In truth and full disclosure there is some language in the song that I no longer care for but those lyrics give you the overall gist of the song.
The secular word, the sinful world says and does as it pleases. Actions identified as sin in the Bible are embraced as causes to protect. Non-believers shout from the roof tops about their rights to live as they please and they do that “with no apologies”.
So what is our problem???
I have encountered so many Christians, and in fact been one of those Christians, that doesn’t want to step on any toes. In the past the idea of upsetting the apple cart seems inappropriate. Our Pastors have stated more than once that being a Christian is much more than being polite. Our nation was founded by rebels committing treasonous acts against England. The bulk of those founding fathers identified themselves as Christians. It was unquestioned at the founding of this country that religious freedom would exist. Hello! They even put it in the Bill of Rights…yeah it was THAT important.
I do not want to force feed my faith on anyone. (OK so that may not be entirely true.) You cannot force the gift of salvation, mercy or grace on anyone. I should have the ability to share my faith without fear of retribution. I should be able to say “Merry Christmas” without it becoming a federal case. A teacher should be able to tell a student “I will pray for you and your family” without it becoming a lawsuit accusing the teacher of criminal or at least unethical acts. We will slap someone on the hand in the workplace for alcohol or drug abuse but we crucify those who dare to speak of God’s love and mercy.
WITW (What In The World because WTF is inappropriate)
Don’t get excited about what I am saying, pay attention. Too long Christians in this country have stood on the sidelines, silent. The other extreme is our own Christian extremist. Yes I said Christian extremist. For all those who were bombing abortion clinics and picketing the clinics with signs saying “God hates baby killers” or churches that protest at the funerals of fallen heroes. (PS…God loves all of us, even while we are yet sinners…so get your facts straight) Those extremist actions are drowning out the actions of the faithful who have relationships with God. This is not a rant, this is a call to action – even for myself. I deliberately told customers Merry Christmas and I was not quiet about my feelings of a “Holiday” party that was obviously a Christmas event. Those actions will not earn any media attention but perhaps someone will be impacted. The smallest actions can have the biggest impact.
We need to profess our faith, our relationship with God with NO APOLOGIES. If they are offended, I am not sorry. That sounds terrible, but I have listened for years about people cheating on their spouses, drinking to oblivion, taking this or that to take the edge off. I have heard sexist comments, racial slander and a variety of nasty comments about any and all forms of religion. Notice to the general public…you offended me and I smiled and ignored what you said. I did not file a lawsuit. Some situations were extreme enough for me to have to tell someone “enough is enough”. So I get you may run into a person who tried to shove their faith down your throat…it will not be me.
This is what I promise. When you ask me why I handle the stress in my life well, I am going to tell you it is because of God’s grace. When you ask how I can laugh when everything seems to go wrong, I will tell you the Holy Spirit has blessed me with joy. When you ask why I spend so much time at my church, I am going to tell you because I love God and my church family. I am going to invite you to special events. When you go through difficult times, I am going to tell you that I am praying for you and I WILL PRAY for you. If you let me, I will pray with you on the spot. When you realize there is something to my relationship with God, I will be here to lead you to God. I will happily pray the prayer of salvation with you. The other side of this promise. If you ignore me and never visit church with me, if you tell me to shut-up when I speak about my relationship with Jesus…I will still be praying for you. When you can’t do some sinful thing you wanted to do…it may well be my prayers and the prayers of others who love you stopping and guiding you on another path. My God is THAT Good. He loves you and will accept you, when no one else will. BANK ON IT!
God can equip us to do anything. Truth be told few of us get saved or rededicate our lives and immediately run out and pray healing over a blind person and they see again. For most of us faith is a growing experience. Small acts of faith over time that lead us to tremendous lives in faith.
Let me share with you a small act that changed my life. Long before my world fell apart in January 2016, I worked with a lady named Helen. Helen is a Pastor’s wife, Baptist Pastor I think. Helen never shoved her faith down anyone’s throat. She made it clear what she believed is a sweet, kind way. She would stand her ground if engaged in a conversation about controversial issues. She beamed with joy and was always one of the first people to offer a kind, encouraging word. When I had my crisis in January, I reached out to her. We had not worked together in over 18 months. It was rather random, but I needed someone, anyone to direct me. To pray with me. To pray for me. At that time, I had no one in West Virginia except my husband, sons and in-laws. I needed someone connected to their faith. She was my life line. I could not tell you what she said or did, most of our interaction was on Facebook, but I know she prayed. Less than two months later my life had been rededicated and I was back in church, with my family. Helen did not do any outrageous, grand action…she stood her ground, made her faith known and prayed.
What A Difference A Year Makes
This time last year I was struggling with depression. Everything good in my life seemed to have this dark haze clouding it out. The more I looked for a light at the end of the tunnel, the more I was convinced eternal dark was my destiny. I ached. My heart, mind and body yearned for something different. I was tired of being moody and miserable. I was tired of getting mad and reacting more like an officer than a mother or wife. If I am really honest with you…I was tired of living. Only a short time into the new year, about two weeks, my world came completely crashing in when tempers flew and my son and daughter-in-law moved out abruptly with her three little boys. I had a taste of being a grandparent…I love it and suddenly it was gone. When I reached out to Helen it was a desperate grasp at something, anything that would stop me from going back “there”. If you have ever struggled with depression and seriously contemplated suicide…you understand where “there” is. I had come close twice before and I just could not sink that low again. I was scared I might never pull out of that downward spiral. I finally hit a point where I had nowhere to turn but God.
The dark times in my life and all the experiences I have had made me a more sympathetic person, especially dealing with convicted individuals in the correctional system. In more recent months, many of my painful experiences have helped me in helping others. Only God can take experiences so painful and dark and use them to help others. Only God could make me new, healing my heart and giving me purpose. A year has made so much difference. God loves me and I have a real relationship with Him. I have a loving church family that gives me purpose, drive and most of all fellowship and friendship.
Helen’s quiet, diligent actions of faith were done with “no apologies”. She was not aggressive or judgmental. She did not force her beliefs upon me. Her actions and words made all the difference over a year later when I needed someone to help me find God again. (Cause I am hardheaded and need neon signs to follow instructions sometimes) I pray for boldness and guidance. Yes, I also pray for God to make his message to me really loud, clear, neon signs and booming voices kind of clear…cause if I am unsure, I hesitate…my faith is growing, not grown. I pray for the opportunity to tell others what God has done for me. Look what the Lord has done! “He healed my body (no migraines in 3 months), he touched my mind (no depression), He saved me, it was JUST IN TIME.”
No more apologizing for your faith. No more apologizing for your relationship with God.
One last thing…
Whether you have been serving the Lord for 100 years or 10 minutes, find a mentor. (might not be the perfect word for it, but you get the idea) Find someone that you can interact with and learn from. In most cases the learning will go both ways, but I personally believe this is a key element in working out your salvation and mirrors the idea of “iron shaping iron”. We can’t do this alone…we were not meant to do it alone.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! – Looking forward to my first full, start to finish year, in a personal relationship with my God!!!