-psalm 33:6-

White Christians Who Voted for Donald Trump: Fix This. Now.

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Placed on their car in NC. “Can’t wait until your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. Trump 2016”

The following article was written by pastor and blogger John Pavlovitz. His blog, Stuff That Needs To Be Said is currently being overloaded with hits and I figured since most people will get error messages when trying to read his profound and honest words, I would share this hear so it can been seen, absorbed, and considered. -Alyssa

We Christians like to talk about Hell a lot, so let’s talk about Hell a little.

Yesterday, in the very first few daylight hours after Donald Trump’s election victory it began:

Near San Francisco, a home in Noe Valley flew a nazi flag where kids walk by to get to school.
A white middle school student brought a Trump sign to school and told a black classmate it was time for him to get “back in place”.
A gay New York City man getting on a bus was told that he should “Enjoy the concentration camps, faggot!”
The NYU Muslim Students Association found the word “Trump!” scrawled on the door of their prayer room.
A female seminary student was stopped at a coffee shop with the words, “Smile sweetheart, we beat the cunt.”
Parents of children of color spent the day picking up their children early from elementary, middle, and high schools across the country because they were inundated with slurs and harassment and unable to study.
A group of Hispanic kids in Raleigh were taunted by white children, telling them they were “going back to Mexico.”

This is the personal Hell we’ve unleashed upon our people this week. 

And if you’re a white Christian and you voted for Donald Trump: You need to fix this. Now.

You comprise the lion’s share of Trump’s elevation to the highest office of our country.
You knew exactly who this man was while you held your noses and covered your eyes and endorsed him anyway.
You are fully responsible for the flood of personal sewage now engulfing children and adults of color, those in the LGBTQ community, those in the Muslim community.
And you, white Christian, better get you spiritual shIt together and figure out how you’re going make this right.

Let’s be clear about something, brethren:

This is not the time to appeal to minorities and marginalized communities to “come together in unity”. That was Hillary Clinton’s message, and even though she had the track record and the experience and the wherewithal to make it happen—you passed on it. Instead you chose the guy who’s entire resume is about supremacy and privilege, whose entire campaign was about the fear of the other (the other in this case, being anyone not white, straight, and Christian). You chose the guy endorsed by the KKK. You did.

You need to understand this.
Oppressed people aren’t obliged to make nice with their oppressors.
The bullied don’t owe anything to the bullies.
Victims don’t have to make their assailants feel better.
Young children of color aren’t responsible to educate racists children.

In the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells his followers, those who followed after him, that those who would bear his name are to love the least; not those who are less-than, but those who are treated as less-than. He then paints the picture of the eternal suffering Christians are always so willing to condemnothers to, and he says that it will be their lack of love and compassion and mercy for these most vulnerable, most hurting people—that will condemn them.

White Christians and the white Church, especially if you voted for Donald Trump: this is all on you.

Your pastors need to speak clearly and explicitly into this, now.
Your church websites and social media pages need to address this harassment and bullying and terrorizing, now.
You need to talk to your white children and teach them how not not be horrible to other kids, and how to stand up to those who are being horrible, now.
You need to talk to your kid’s coaches and to your midweek Bible Study and to your co-workers and your church staff and your gun club—and you need to call this poison out, now.

White churches, this Sunday, your only sermon should be the one that reminds your white members what the parable of the Good Samaritan was compelling followers of Jesus to be: radically merciful when everyone else looked the other way.
You need to reach out to your neighbors and coworkers and classmates and social media friends who are part of marginalized communities and reassure them, listen to them, care for them, be Jesus to them.

If not, no matter how you rationalize it or try to squeeze your way out of it, the personal Hell so many people are living in and will continue to live in over the next four years, will be one of your design.
It will be your shared sin.
The blood will be on your hands.

This is your place and time in history to show people what Jesus is supposed to look like.
This is your urgent moment to make a testimony that is Christlike or to willingly and openly deny Christ.
This is your crucial opportunity to be the peacemakers, white Christians; not by compelling the marginalized to be more understanding or to ask them to come to the table with those who are injuring them—but by speaking directly into the face of those inflicting the injury and demanding their repentance.

Now you can dismiss these stories or diminish their collateral damage or accuse the victims of exaggeration. You can claim that things will die down once these people “get this out of their systems”.
You can turn away and logout and retreat into the cloistered security of your white Christian bubble of privilege.

Or, you can step out into the school hallways and bus stops and coffee shops and Twitter feeds and bring the bold, loving, redemptive presence of Jesus you’re always claiming you want to be in the world. You can actually step into Hell and bring the freakin’ love of God.

At times like these, Christians like to smile sweetly and say, “God is in control.”
No. God is not in control.
God didn’t vote for Donald Trump, you did.
Stop passing the buck to God.
God isn’t defacing prayer rooms.
God is not bullying kids on buses.
God isn’t threatening Muslim families.
White Christians are.
You are in control of this. You have pulpits and pews and a voice and influence and social media, so get to work. 

You need to do some knee to the dirt exploratory surgery with your Maker and figure out how you’re going to respond to this—and then respond.

For the love of God and for the love of the people you claim that God so loves—fix this.

Now.

 

Writer and activist Shaun King is documenting the thousands of stories pouring in already. If you claim Christ, you need to read them.

James 4:14

smoke

via Daily Prompt: Smoke

My father was a gentle man, always flashing easy smiles full of straight teeth. His eyes showcased a glorious blue and brown heterochromia and sparkled when he spoke of galaxies full of stars and planets unexplored. He would go through packs of Marlboro Lights as he told stories of his time as a Marine in Japan, Vietnam, Germany, the world. He was animated and joyful, like a child who knew all the secrets to life and had found the answer to every existential question. He was generous with his time, his words, his love. The soft subtle constant aroma of cigarettes on his skin and clothes became one of comfort, a scent I associated with home and warmth.

Eventually his body began to fail him. The strong and stable man I had grown up knowing was suddenly weak and fragile. The doctors didn’t have anything positive to say, and when I flew home to be with him in his last days our roles shifted and I was the one who got to tell him stories. I would push him in a wheelchair around the hospital and sneak him ice cold Coca-Colas and burning hot Marlboro Lights. We would sit outside holding hands, the smoke curling around us as we savored what we both knew would be the last moments we would have with each other. The smell of that smoke was a comforting and grounding thing in the midst of the chaos, it brought my mind back to the days when everything was still okay, it was a constant in all my memories from past to present with the man I loved more than anything.

It’s been a little over eight years since my father left this world and, appropriately, his body went up in smoke. In the first year after his death I inhaled countless Marlboro Lights, pulling the warmth deep into my lungs, yearning for some sense of closeness and comfort, wrapping myself in the scent of burning tobacco, trying to ground my breaking heart in something familiar and stable. I always felt him in those quiet moments on my porch, those moments where nothing else felt real, those moments where I could almost see his smiling face and sparkling eyes forming in the clouds around my body.

I don’t smoke anymore, I am now a mother and wife, and the more time that passes the more the wound heals. Things don’t hurt as much as they did before, and I’m grateful for that. I can see my father in other things, like my husband’s fascination with space, and my son’s bright blue eyes and childlike wonder. The more I learn about God, the more I understand why my father lived the way he did. He understood undeserved grace and great love. He understood the value of people, and knew that investing in them and caring for them would yield far greater treasures than any high paying job. I don’t smoke anymore, but I feel my father’s presence all around me, an invisible vapor, a warm smoke floating through each day of my life,  reminding me to live my life with the same quiet kindness he did, and that’s the most comforting thing of all.

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14

Smoke

“…but the greatest of these is love.”

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There is so much hurt in the world, in people’s lives, and in their hearts. The majority of us have experienced something deeply painful, heart wrenching, catastrophic even in some cases, and yet we persevere. And yet we continue forward, filled with a hope, however small, that things will get better.

I truly believe, deep in my soul, that as human beings we have the innate ability to mirror our Creator out into the world around us. Each day we get to choose our attitudes, our disposition, how we respond to challenges and trials, how we treat those around us, especially the ones who are hard as heck to love. How we live our lives speaks volumes about the state of our hearts and the salvation of our souls.

I work four days a week in a customer service call center. The people whose calls I take are generally upset about an order or a refund, and I’m the one they complain to. There are days where the constant pettiness and negativity feel like they’re drowning me. Some days it takes everything in me to not scream at someone for blaming their incompetence on me. Some days I am nearly brought to tears due to the harshness of people’s words. Some days I want to walk out and never look back. But some days, most days if I’m being honest, if I open my heart really wide and allow love, humility, kindness, and empathy to bleed out, I am able to see people as more than their complaints. I am able to see them as sons and daughters of my Heavenly Father. I am able to recognize clearly that each one of them was made in the image of God, and their bad behavior is no different from my shortcomings, all a nasty side effect of the fall in Genesis 3.

There was a woman that called today, her order had many notes from multiple representatives in my call center indicating significant confusion and dispute between her and us regarding the product she ordered and the product she received. She rang to my phone and the first thing she says is “I just talked to a woman there and I don’t understand why she was so mean to me. I just want to figure this out, I don’t understand.” She then went on to tell me she had recently lost two of her sons in an accident, and the previous representatives harsh demeanor and tone and pushed her to the point of tears. As I sat on the phone consoling this woman I didn’t know whatsoever, I scanned her order, looked up the product, and realized the confusion stemmed from the initial phone order where the representative from our company had ordered her the WRONG item. The customer knew what she was talking about but didn’t know how to articulate that she did not order this product, and instead of helping her, every other person she had gotten on the phone had been condescending and rude, writing her off as a crazy woman who ordered the wrong item and was now trying to pass blame. Listening to her cry drove home the realization that we are so fragile. We balance our pain with everyday life, and sometimes even the slightest stress added can tip the whole scale and send it crashing to the ground, no matter how insignificant that stress may seem in the grand scheme of things. I patiently helped the woman, sorted her mess out, and got the right item shipped to her. Her gratitude was so evident, it was clear I had made her day brighter by solving her problem, and in return her genuine thankfulness brightened mine.

Sometimes I think that God hides tenderness in the places we would least expect to find it. He weaves it into the darkness, into the despair, into the hopelessness. Love is a bright warm light that can change our perspective and help us see clearly. Love is the only lens we should view life and it’s Genesis 3 tainted circumstances through. Love is steadfast and it endures all things, because God himself is love.

Friends I urge you today, have the courage to be kind. We aren’t even aware at times of the power we hold to shake up another persons world, for better or for worse, with the words we say and the way we say them. You could be a catalyst, I hope you’ll strive to be one that makes peoples lives brighter and better, filled with more love and hope. Leave places and people infinitely better than you encountered them.

 

wrecked.

The sin of your sister Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury- proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives. And you know what happened: I did away with them.  [Ezekiel 16:49-50 MSG]

When Jesus messes up your life, it is violent and harsh and so beautiful. I once read it put this way, “It’s one thing to acknowledge a different word view; it’s another thing to absorb it. I was frozen, attempting to get my head around the idea that I’d missed something so central. I was sitting on the proverbial curb by the wreck God had engineered, trying to catch my breath.” That’s where I’m at today friends, sitting on the curb, shocked at my own ignorance with adrenaline and conviction pumping through my veins.

If you’re at all confused (which you probably are) let me explain. I’ve been feeling a stirring in my soul, the presence of the spirit in a way I haven’t before. God has always felt like a gracious loving embrace. He has picked me up, held me, loved me, put me back together, and sent me on way. My life is a life changed by Christ and I will forever be grateful because I am so undeserving. But the more I walk this path the more I feel like this can’t be all it’s about. As  followers of Jesus we are called to be set apart, to be peculiar, to make people wonder why we would be willing to lay our lives down for our Creator. And yet, I see people all around me, myself included, whose Christian life looks just like the rest of the culture, with a little Jesus and church sprinkled in. This time God’s presence within me feels like a violent push off a ledge. I am shaken and my heart has been ripped open so wide for the world around me I can’t decide whether I want to cry or scream.

Let’s look at a couple statistics:

  • Of the six billion people on our plant, about 1.2 billion live on twenty-three cents a day.
  • Half the world lives on less than two dollars and fifty cents a day.
  • The wealthiest one billion people average seventy dollars a day (guess where that puts us y’all).
  • Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds.
  • Last year twenty-two million people died of preventable diseases; ten million were children.
  • More than 143 million children in the developing world have been orphaned (equivalent to more than half the population of the United States).
  • About 1 billion people in the world do not have suitable housing, and 100 million are entirely homeless.
  • Roughly forty million people (the equivalent of about seven Jewish Holocausts) die annually from starvation, disease, and malnutrition.
  • 69 percent of US adults and 18 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

Some of these statistics are a couple years old, but I can tell you one thing, if they’ve changed it sure hasn’t been for the better. How is it that more than HALF of our countries adults are obese when someone literally DIES OF HUNGER every 3.6 seconds? And how does that not even register to most of us? Why don’t we care?

We have been taught that we are consumers, we are fed this message every day. We buy cheap clothes ignoring the fact that they were paid for dearly by people’s lives in Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and so many other countries less fortunate than our own. We spend outrageous amounts of money on “convenient” pre-packaged, processed crap and we call it food. We ruin God’s precious earth with industry, building more factories to make more stuff we don’t need, and more buildings to sell it all from. We tell ourselves that busy is better and earning more and more money, climbing the ladder if you will, is the goal. You pay your bills, and then you die. If you’re a Christian, you tithe first, pay your bills, and then die. This is the American Dream, buy more, live comfortably, and take care of your own. It’s an easy sell, and we all eat it up.

For Christians, for true followers of Jesus the issue lies in what we’ve given up in order to pursue this “American Dream”. We have unknowingly given up the Kingdom of God. We have abandoned ship, aborted the mission, and ignored the over 2,000 verses in the Bible involving poverty, physical oppression, justice, and redistribution of resources. We have twisted and turned His commandments into sweet anecdotes about how God wants to just bless the blessed a little more. God’s word talks about poverty, widows, orphans, and hunger A LOT, and catch this, they are not metaphors! There are people who need to be fed, with actual food. There are tangible physical ways for us to extend Jesus to people, and it starts with generosity, kindness, and the courage to step out in faith and trust that God means what He says. Trust that He will meet you there in the mess, in the midst of the least.

Friends I have had enough of this “American Dream” that is being shoved down our throats. The ingredients are toxic, and it’s making me sick. I’m ready to reevaluate, I’m ready to welcome the destruction that must come so He can rebuild me. I’m ready to be emptied, recognize myself for the simple jar of clay I am, and let Him fill me up. It’s time for the Bride of Christ to rise, to live differently, to be eternity-minded. Let us recognize the Kingdom of God always takes precedence over our earthly dreams, it’s time for a change.

“yeah-buts live in the woods”

I am really good at excuses. I am good at justifying my actions, or lack thereof, and I am good at making you believe I simply have to or cannot do whatever the thing is I’m doing or not doing. Follow?

I am really good at excuses, but let me tell you, my fiancé can see through ALL of mine. It’s a bit unnerving to have the person closest to you see right through every excuse you have, and call you out on it. It doesn’t leave much room for graceful bow-outs or careful steps back when things aren’t quite going as you expected. Having someone close to you hold you accountable is painful, but it’s necessary. Accountability is like prime fertilizer for character growth. It encourages you, emboldens you, equips you to take just one more step, and then one more, and then one more. Accountability and I have a love/hate relationship because very rarely have I let people close enough to have that sort of influence on me.

Which brings me to my big point, my huge excuse, the elephant in all of my rooms. For years I have hidden behind a label. I have identified myself as introvert. I have told myself that is what I am, that is why I don’t want to talk to people, that is why I don’t put forth effort, that is why I don’t care and never will. My time is my time and I will spend it on my own quietly refreshing myself and binging on Netflix. I have pulled the introvert card on more occasions than I care to count in order to get my butt back home if there is any sign of uncomfortableness. A couple years before my son was born, this label had such an impact on who I was that my body began to physically react. I was wracked with anxiety, prone to panic attacks, I would shake and hyperventilate if things and people became too overwhelming.

I began to identify these things as normal, because they were part of “who I was”. I told everyone it was just my personality type, what was I going to do about that? Even up until recently it’s been something to lean on to pull me back into my comfort zone when things get messy.

The funny thing about messy is that God LOVES it. God loves discomfort and grit. Safe Christian bubbles are more dangerous than any street in a ghetto. Safe Christian bubbles provide us the space to pretend, to put on a show, but never to really step out on mission.  If we don’t step out, if we don’t power through the awkwardness and the straight up uncomfortableness we don’t get to see the glory. We step back from life changing conversations, we withdraw from embraces that could comfort a lost soul, we send the message to others that we are selfish, because it is all about us and our well being. It is about how comfortable we are while our brothers and sisters are freezing to death on city streets, or can’t afford to put food in their children’s bellies. But we can’t help, we can’t love, because we’re just so dang socially uncomfortable.

God has spoken some truth over my life lately, and He has messed me up. He has shown me quite clearly that this introverted personality is a lie. This label I identified with and have hidden behind is simply a part of my sin nature that I was born with, that I live with, and that I cannot save myself from. It is something I will now wage war on, because I know my Savior’s precious blood was spilled to rescue me from that lie and every other one the enemy has filled my mind with. Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” My discomfort, my nervousness, my fear are NOTHING compared to what God is working out in me. NOTHING compared to what He wants to do with my life, and who He wants me to impact with abounding, unconditional love and grace.

My life is not about me, it’s not about what I can do, what I look like, how nice my house is, or any of that…my life about God and His glory. My purpose is to be a bright light, a life changed, a wonderful testimony to how good my Father is. When I responded and chose to follow God, the old me died. She is dead and buried, and yet the enemy still tries to fill her lungs with air so he can pump her full of fear, so he can hold her back, so he can watch her suffer.

Today I am officially killing the title “introvert” and taking away the power I have allowed it to have over my life. I will take each step forward, no matter how small, into what God has purposed for me, and I will do it with joy and gratitude, for I know my Father is good and He sees through all my excuses while drowning them in perfect love. Fear has no place here anymore.

 

-A.

 

Lord, help me get over myself!

Jen Hatmaker has ruined my life.

Okay let me rephrase that…she has put into words the violent silent wrestling I have been doing deep down in my heart and soul. She has ruined my life, by speaking authentic truth and honesty.

“Here are my hands. They are yours.

Here is my wallet. Take it.

Here are my powerful prayer words. Direct them.

Here is my comfortable happiness. Ruin it.

Here is my sin. Transform me.

Here is my heart. Break it.”

These words were shared on her blog years ago, and over the last few days they have been my constant prayer, a sobbing on my knees begging kind of prayer. The kind of prayer that reeks of desperation. There is too much hurt in this world, too much suffering, too much sadness and loss for me to sit comfortably in my life and not DO something. I can read all the scripture there is, be involved in all the bible studies, attend church without fail every Sunday and the emptiness will still exist. The emptiness that was meant to be filled by serving others, by self sacrifice, by dying to self, by giving my life for your life. Faith without works is dead in the grave y’all, and dead faith cannot save.

The hard honest truth is I am selfish, and I have been smacked in the face with that fact this week. Jesus has pulled that out of me, from the deepest darkest places, the places I didn’t want to go to, that held the things I didn’t want to confront. My reasons for not wanting to engage in the hard things, the get your hands dirty things, is because I don’t want to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is not a common American goal, it is not something people strive for, in fact our culture preaches the opposite. Our social media is flooded with lists on how to be happy and fulfilled, ideas for self-care, and material items you have to have in order to be the best you possible.

Friends, this may sound crazy, but I want you to know you ARE the best you. God has knit you together personally for a purpose. He knows you, in all your mess, and He loves you with a love we cannot even fathom. You were made in His image, there is no “flaw” within you that wasn’t part of His plan for you, and for the world you get the privilege to engage with every day.

I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to be so concerned with making the most of my life that I forget to USE my one life to make a lasting impact. I want to die and live for Him. I want my life to shine so bright it’s undeniable that He is within me. I want to love others well, regardless of who they are or what they do.

So right now I’m praying like everything I have depends on it (because it does), and I’m devouring scripture, seeking out patterns, getting close to the heart of God, reaffirming the call I cannot shake. I’m asking myself the questions Jen asked herself. What makes me truly angry? For whom does my passionate soul cry? What leaves my blood boiling, my heart aching, my belly rumbling for injustice? What prophetic story am I telling with my life? When it’s all over, what is my legacy in Christ? 

I hope these things matter to you, I hope you’re able to identify that hunger, that empty hollow ache within you, and I hope you will realize as I did that no amount of earthly accomplishment or accumulation will fill it. I hope you’ll examine yourself, and pray to be ruined by God (or by Jen, because He totally uses people to reach people).

How can I love you well? What can I do to lift you up? How can I encourage you? What can I pray over or speak life into? We we’re meant to do this life together, so let’s start now.

Courage is being scared to death…

…and saddling up anyway. -John Wayne

This is a promise spoken into my life for sometime, a promise I did not want to believe in or pursue because of one formative thing; fear. Fear of what people might think, fear of how my words may be perceived, fear that my Father’s favor wasn’t upon me on this journey, fear that I was following my own emotions and not His leading. Fear is crippling, it stops you in your tracks and kills the possibility of growth. Fear keeps dry bones dry, when God wants to breath life into them. God is in the business of adding sinews, bringing up flesh, and covering it all with skin. My God is in the business of making dead things come to life y’all, how wonderful and magical is that?!

So this blog is the living, tangible example of God breathing life into my dry bones. It is still raw, new, unedited, and imperfect, much like myself. It is a place where I can share about what it means to be a beloved daughter of the star-breather. It is a place I can be real, vulnerable, and humble. It is a place where I can encourage, empower, reassure, and speak life. It is an opportunity to carry His glory, regardless of my shortcomings, regardless of my fear.

I am terrified, but I am here.

I am trusting that God is fighting for me so that I can fight for others, so that I can pour myself out, follow His leading, extend grace, and love the lost with a fierceness and a fire.

This is a promise fulfilled, not FOR me but THROUGH me.

This is a promise for YOU, from your good good Father, from the one who breathed out the stars and hung them perfectly in the sky. Your Father who knows everything about you from the number of hairs on your head down to all the desires in the depths of your heart.

Won’t you step out in faith and join me on this journey?

-A.