Finding My Message

Message

On Tuesday I sent my book proposal to my agent, Karen. It’s been quite the 2.5 year journey to get to this point! I think I spent more time trying to run away from writing a book than actually being obedient. Good thing Jesus is so gracious and so persistent. And now it is out of my hands and into His. It feels exciting, terrifying, kind of unreal, and unexpectedly peaceful all at the same time.

My sister and bestie (who also happens to be my editor, encourager, and confidant) asked me the other day, “Are you ready for this to potentially change your life?”

I don’t know. But I’ve been thinking about it, a lot. And the biggest question I’ve been wrestling with is, what is my message? It’s one thing to blog, but what if my book actually gets published, and what if I am given opportunities to speak to people? What do I tell them?

I’ve been thinking and praying about this a lot, and after a long, passionate talk with my husband last night, I think I know. It’s actually pretty simple and unimpressive, haha! 🙂

I think I’m supposed to share the clear, simple gospel and include the parts that often get ignored or missed.

  • God made you for a relationship with Him and He loves you more than you could ever imagine.
  • But we are enemies of God and our sin (lack of perfection) separates us from that relationship. Sin brings death.
  • God knew from the beginning that we could never work hard enough or earn our way back to Him, so He came as Jesus. Jesus lived, loved, died, and rose again taking the punishment for sin and destroying the power of it!
  • If we trust in Jesus alone, we can have forgiveness and eternal life.
  • Through Jesus, God has restored our relationship with Him! And if we trust in Jesus and His death, God gives us His own Spirit to live with and in us as a guarantee of our salvation.
  • The Holy Spirit will give us comfort, encouragement, help, wisdom, and everything we need to live like Jesus if we will let Him (believe He can).

Really, Christy?  What kind of a message is that?

I think it’s the one that’s too often missing, or covered up, or tweaked. Consider these thoughts.

Why don’t Christians focus more on the fact that Jesus came to restore our relationship with God instead of telling people that He died to save them from hell? I feel like this misses a huge part of the good news!

Once people trust Jesus as their Savior, why don’t we teach them how to know Him instead of giving them a list of things to stop/start doing? If we are pursuing a relationship with Jesus and allowing Him to work in our life, isn’t His Spirit real enough and strong enough to convict us of our sin and change us from the inside out?

Why don’t we read the Bible because it shows us who God is and what He has done (among other things), and pray because we are sharing our heart with God and enjoying a relationship with Him? How often do our “devos” happen (if they happen) because it’s “right” or because it makes us feel more godly or spiritual?

There are so many problems with Christianity these days, on both sides of the fence. But I think this basic, simple, “nothing new” message is the answer. Because it brings us back to Jesus, the reason behind our “Christianity” in the first place. It confronts us with the fact that the point is knowing God, and Jesus did everything to make that possible.

If Christians put everything else aside, and just believed in these simple truths, and then embraced the fact that we can know God and have the Holy Spirit. If they started pursuing Him, seeking Him, exploring what it means to have the very Spirit of God with us always, wouldn’t God be big enough to teach and show them the truth?

There are too many lies to try and defeat…on both sides, conservative and liberal. But if I can tell people the real, clear gospel, which is all about Jesus, and His desire to restore our relationship. If they believe and embrace this truth, won’t the Spirit of Jesus do the rest?

 

 

Would We Recognize Him?

 

This is re-blogged from last year with some changes and updates. 🙂

If Jesus came and visited my church would I recognize him? Would you? Most of the religious people missed him last time.

moses-573811_1920The Pharisees were some of the religious elite. They looked good on the outside. They were filled with zealous passion. They not only followed the rules in the Law, they made up more rules and followed them too. They read and taught the Scriptures. But when God showed up, the promised Savior of the world, these same religious people missed him. In fact they didn’t just miss him, they claimed that he was a drunkard, a sinner, and possessed by a demon! God, the Creator of the Universe!

Ironically, these “good” Pharisees were the only people Jesus condemned. He spent a lot of time telling parables about them, ignoring their rules, and challenging their ideology. Why? Jesus met “sinners” in the dirt, loved them, forgave them, and set them free. Why was he so confrontational with the Pharisees? Would he be confrontational with me? What if this is the answer:

The sinners knew they were sinners. The Pharisees thought they were good enough.

Grace is only good news if you know you need it!

When I am in the dirt (like the woman in John 8), totally aware of my sin, my mess, and my unworthiness, Jesus can sit down there with me and show me grace. He loves me and forgives me even though I don’t deserve it. Jesus overwhelms me with grace because that’s who He is, and I stand in awe and can’t help but love Him in return.

But, if I think that I am good enough because of the list of rules that I am following, if I think that my outward performance is impressing God, if I am puffed with pride, then Jesus can’t show me grace.

Because, grace means nothing if we think we have earned it.

I really believe that Jesus’ motivation behind every confrontation with the Pharisees was to show them their sin, to show them that they weren’t good enough, that they would never be good enough, and that they needed Him.

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These religious people thought that God gave the Law for people to follow so that they would be good enough to impress Him. They thought it was a checklist to perfection. But Paul tells us in Galatians 3 that God gave the Law to show us our sin, to show us that we couldn’t do it, and to remind us that we needed a Savior.

God’s standard is perfection. In order to be with Him, we have to be perfect. (Psalm 5:4) Yeah, I don’t know about you, but I’m out of luck. 😦 Still, He wants us! God wants a relationship with us! That has always been His goal. The consequence of sin, disobedience to God, is death. (Romans 6:23) But God loved us so much that He came to die in our place (John 3:16). If we trust in this, that Jesus died in our place for our sins, then God forgives us, adopts us as His children, and gives us eternal life! (John 3:16-18) That is good news! There is nothing that we can do to earn forgiveness. And, there is nothing more we can do to earn God’s blessings or impress Him once we have been forgiven.

Sadly, I’ve met a lot of Christians who look more like Pharisees than Jesus followers.

If Jesus showed up at your church with shaggy hair, maybe an earring or two, wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops, with Christian rap music blaring out of his rolled down car windows, would you recognize Him? Does this description make you angry? Uncomfortable? Does it make you laugh?

I don’t think Jesus fits into the predictable, churchy, sanitized box we have created for Him. He sure didn’t fit into the Pharisee’s box! What if we are missing the point (a restored relationship with our Creator) because we are too focused on religion and tradition? What if there is more than we can ever imagine right at our fingertips? Right there for the seeking, if we are willing to look?

 

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The Missing Member of the Trinity

I had an epiphany a couple of weeks ago and it’s been rocking my world!

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For some reason, I do some of my best thinking while driving and showering. Does that sound familiar? My mind was ticking along something like this…

What happened to the Holy Spirit in Evangelical Christianity? He definitely gets less than His fair share of attention. Theologically, the Holy Spirit is an equal member of the Trinity, but unless you attend a Charismatic or Pentecostal church, He is pretty much ignored.

Sure, we tell people that they will receive the Holy Spirit when they trust in Jesus to be their Savior. We might mention that He is called the Comforter or Helper (John 14:15-26) or that He is the guarantee of our salvation (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). But, most of us don’t talk about Him much, and we don’t usually pray to Him. Is it because we don’t know what to do with the Holy Spirit? Maybe we’re afraid of Him or unsure about Him; so, we just ignore Him. We talk about “God” and “Jesus” and leave it at that.

I sat there thinking, wishing I knew more about the Holy Spirit, feeling like I was missing something, when it hit me. According to the Bible, the Holy Spirit is the One I know the best!

What? And that’s when my mind started getting blown! I love it when God does this!

The Bible tells us that God the Father is in Heaven; Jesus is in Heaven sitting at God’s right hand; but the Holy Spirit… The Holy Spirit is the One here with me!!

It’s hard to explain the emotion that exploded in my heart. It was as if I’d grown up knowing I had a missing sibling and then suddenly found out that they had been my best friend for the past ten years. If that makes any sense…

It was an “Oh, it’s You!!!” moment.

I called Him “Jesus”, but it was actually the Holy Spirit who became real to me when I was 15 years old, helped me to see the lies in Bill Gothard’s teachings, and started my questioning and rebelling against the cultic teachings of my church. The Holy Spirit is the one who brought me to Pine Ridge Bible Camp and showed me grace, freedom, and love. I’ve gotten to know Him over the years, felt His Presence over and over, talked with Him, and laughed with Him. He explains the Bible to me, and reminds me of verses I need to hear. He is the one who gives me the strength that I pray for, He gave me peace through my miscarriages, and helped me to trust when I didn’t think I could. He gives me the ability to forgive my husband and have patience with my children. I call Him “Jesus” but He is really the missing member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit! And just writing those words makes me smile. 🙂

You might be thinking that it doesn’t matter who we pray to or who we call God because they are all the same. Two weeks ago I might have agreed with you.

I don’t think it matters to God, but it matters to us. My life has been rocked by realizing that the Holy Spirit is with me. Praying to Him seemed almost “wrong” at first (which is silly because I say that I believe He is God, just like the Father and Jesus) but now I love it! It makes the literal part of my brain connect somehow with the spiritual part. Maybe it’s because I know that God and Jesus aren’t actually with me, even though I believe they can hear me…But the Holy Spirit, He is literally right here, actually with me, and when I recognize that and talk to Him…it just does something to my heart and my faith!

All of this brings up a question: Why ignore the Holy Spirit?

Why do so many Evangelical churches, especially the conservative ones, ignore this amazing member of the Trinity? Is it because the Spirit isn’t easily understandable? Explainable? Boxable? We can put God in a box, Jesus goes in a box, but how in the world do you box the Spirit? 

Bill Gothard, briefly mentioned the Holy Spirit in his teachings as the One who convicts us of sin; he then focused on God and Jesus as the giver of steps, laws, and blessings (if you followed all the rules). Completely screwing up the image of the Father and the Son, he largely ignored the Spirit. Why? Maybe because some of the Spirit’s jobs are to give us wisdom, discernment, and help, and Gothard was afraid of the Spirit exposing him for the fraud he was. Maybe because he didn’t understand (or want to understand) the Spirit. Is this the same reason so many super fundamental churches ignore the Spirit? They are afraid of Him… They don’t want Him exposing their lies…

Who is benefiting from our ignorance? Not us!! You know what? This whole thing smells like a giant, sneaky lie from the Enemy!

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Too many Christians are fixated on “improving themselves”, following lists of standards and rules, making sure that they are “fully surrendered”, attempting to make Jesus the “Lord of their life”, and zealously trying to be a disciple. All the while, they are completely ignoring the fact that the very God of the Universe in all of His power and ability is living with and in them. They are trying to accomplish God-sized feats with mere human strength. What would happen if we actually believed in the Holy Spirit, that He is God, that He is always with us, and that one of  His jobs is to be our Helper as we live our life on earth? What if we are missing something amazing?

I think  there is more to this than we realize…and I am going to keep thinking, pondering, and believing! I want everything that being a child of God gives me. I want to find out what it means to have the Holy Spirit in all of His power and fullness!

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How about you? What do you think of the Spirit? Do you think of Him? What does the Holy Spirit mean to you? What could He mean? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

I Got it Done! (Book Update)

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I got away this past weekend to a little “prayer cabin” on a lake to finish my book proposal for “Impostor Jesus”. I was unplugged, and by myself for three days. There was no wifi at the cabin and barely any cell service. When I called or texted anyone, I had to stand on top of the picnic table on the deck. But it was wonderful!

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One of the many places I spent time writing.

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Loved this screened in porch! Did some writing and journaling, enjoyed drinking coffee, or just sitting and thinking.

And I’m not sure which was better, the sunset…

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Or the mist rising off the lake the next morning!

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There were times I didn’t think I was going to make it, but thanks to multiple hikes, some ice cream, encouragement from my family, and a ton of help from the Holy Spirit, my book proposal for “Impostor Jesus” is finished! Whew!!

Now for some serious editing and then I will send it to my agent for some more editing. I am planning on attending the Speak  Up Conference in July and plan to take a finished book proposal with me. And then…? Who knows? It’s up to God! But, I will have been obedient and done my part. 🙂

Thank you to all of you who have prayed for and encouraged me the past few years!

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My  natural “unplugged” look, wahoo!

There is one more way that you can help me. If you would be willing to share with me (it might be put into the book proposal) why you would recommend my blog/writing, or how reading it has benefited your life, that would be amazing!! You can send me a message here through the “Contact” link or you can contact me via Facebook. Thanks!!

 

 

 

 

When the Truth is Only a Foot Away from the Lie – A Book Update

Bible used for lies

When people of other religions become Christians, they leave behind their old religious books, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, etc. and start reading the Bible. But, how do you leave behind the Bible, and then start reading the Bible? How do you locate the truth when it’s supposedly found in the book that was used to tell you lies? How do you unravel lies about the “God of Christianity” without leaving Christianity altogether?

Twisted half-truths are the worst kind of lies in my opinion, because it is almost impossible for people to reject the lies without also rejecting the truth.

This is the thing that I hate most about the teachings of Bill Gothard and others like him. They twist the truth, present Bible verses out of context to support their false ideology, and create a fake god and impostor Jesus. In the process, these liars destroy thousands of people’s ability or desire to be Christians.

Thousands of people have walked away from the lies in various forms of “cultic” Christianity, and have also walked away from the real Jesus. They can’t see the difference between the Bible used to control and abuse them and the real Bible that tells the story of a loving God pursuing the people He created. They can’t see the real, loving, gracious, forgiving Jesus because of the false, angry, demanding one standing in the way. They are so overwhelmed by their ideas of god based on the twisted Scripture they were fed, that they can’t even look for a different One.

It breaks my heart and it makes me furious at the same time.

The devil is so sneaky…knowing that twisted half-truths are so much more effective than outright bold faced lies. Twisted truths aren’t just for cults. I’m finding them all over modern Evangelical Christianity and it makes me sick.

This weekend I am getting away by myself for three days to finish my Book Proposal for Impostor Jesus. Please pray for me as I organize my thoughts and chapter ideas. Pray that this would not be about me, but about the message God wants to speak through me. I am excited and terrified! And I need Jesus to be the One who is leading me! Thanks. 🙂