Dearest friends. Yesterday there was an uproar on a Facebook page concerning a handful of pagan believers accusing {whether rightly or falsely} a Christian of attacking another person. A pagan. According to the accusers, there was no provoking and it was blatant. This stemmed from the voting at Circle of Moms for the Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms. Before I go any further, let me just say that I do not accept paganism worship as being OK. Why? Because God does not stand for it. Actually, He does not stand for any worship to any other god's but Him. It's stated in the First Commandment.

Whether or not the accusations are true really is moot at this point. My concern was for the discussion that followed on Facebook between the Christians and the pagans.

I can resonate with the mode of defense many Christians were using because I used to do the same thing ~ and I realized it got me nowhere. Would you permit me to offer you some alternatives when talking with non-believers about our faith? Graciously? :) These are the things that set us apart. Again, I understand we can get angry and frustrated, especially when people attack US and disrespect US. It's almost natural to want to react. But it really shouldn't be. It is through the Holy Spirit you have self-control, even when you're being attacked. But attacking back will get you nowhere, except backwards.

So, if you come across someone who doesn't believe in Jesus, keep a few things in mind as you converse together:

  1. We represent God. Every word that comes out of our mouth is a direct representation of God. Kind of a heavy cloak to carry, yes. But the Bible talks extensively about guarding our tongues and being careful that no idle talk comes from our mouths. Aim to be kind and loving even when the other party isn't. Answer questions when they are asked, but deliver as graciously as possible.
  2. We are called to love our enemies. It should be no secret that pagans/Paganism is an enemy of God. I was asked last night "So why is it the Pagan community is always at the source of all this type hate?" There seems to be a false belief in Paganism that Jesus accepts pagans and He is at the center of all faiths.  We know this to be untrue. But, we can still share the Truth in love. No, it's not always easy. Believe me. I know it's not always easy. Our bent is to hate all things that God finds unacceptable, but we need to recognize there are people under these pagan beliefs.  People we are called to love. And, we should offer them hope. There is always a chance of rejection, but we must at least try planting {not hitting the seed with a shovel}.
  3. Non-believers do not hold to the Bible ~ until the Gospel has been presented and accepted, typically, the Bible is not usually well received among non-believers. Editied to include: Christians need to be careful how we are presenting the Word. Are we spouting it off as venom, or are we speaking it in love and humility? I did not write this as clearly as I intended, orginially. I do believe in the power of the Word, but I believe how we present it plays a role in that as well. :) {Thank you, Kimberly}.
  4. We do not know their past. Some people have been wounded by Christians or the church and therefore are quite bitter toward all Christians based on their own experience. We must really tread carefully. As you know, not everyone represents Christians or Christianity accurately. One woman stated in that thread that  "Christianity is all about materialism, the better a Christian is the more expensive stuff they have." Is she far off from why she would believe such a thing? What are preachers preaching from the pulpit? A "name-it-and-claim-it 'gospel'". That's what she knows of Christianity. :(

Whether a person is pagan, Muslim, Buddhist, or of any other faith does not give us the right to disrespect them as people. They are still people created by the same God who made us and as long as a person has breath, there is still hope.

Yes, please reject the idol worship. Present the truth. Pray for growth and move on, if that is what we must do.

As crazy as it sounds, if rebuking is in order, even that can be done respectfully. ;)

But we must be careful in how we conduct ourselves friends.

Please know, I am guilty of this very thing and speak from experience. I have never seen anything good come out of answering in defense. I am in no way saying that you may not offend someone, even through words of grace (I successfully did so last night!) But be lead by the Spirit so you can be held blameless. :)

We are sisters in Christ and we are growing together. We are not perfect people and we will not always conduct ourselves as such.

Remember the old adage : Kill 'em with kindness.

Children Need Encouragment

As a mother, my default is to chastise. As an adult, I see the world differently than my children do. I have many more life experiences than my children do. Rather than lead them by encouraging them and walking with them, I am quick to tell them how they are doing it all wrong. I know, great mothering tactics, right?

Sunday night I was at my church's monthly worship night called "Encounter". My 8-year old was dancing around the sanctuary in worship {she loves ballet, and is pretty good at it}. At one point, she knelt before the alter with her hands raised to heaven, and I began weeping; sobbing, even. Because even through all my mothering failures, God is still faithful.

It was at this time that God spoke to me about changing my mothering "tactics" by becoming an encourager. Here is the irony of it my friends: my spiritual gift is encouragement. So, tell me why my own children have become an exception to having this gift offered to them? Why are they deprived of such a grace-gift?

Not only am I to encourage them, but I am not to wait for the opportunity to come knocking--I need to go seeking those opportunities out. Create them myself. Who can thrive on constant correction? With little words of affirmation?

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. -Hebrews 3:13

The days are evil, friends. We need to make the most of every opportunity. Children will struggle with sin just as much [maybe more?] than adults. They need our encouragement. They need to know who's "got their back". They need to know we still love them, even when they fail.

When we focus on implementing a positive behavior, it automatically pushes the negative behavior out. So as I encourage my children, I will also encourage them to encourage others. This will help push out negative talk and negative attitudes.

It's the building up of the body of Christ; and it begins in our own homes. :)

Question: How can you encourage your children?

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Joy Is A Flame

Yesterday I was reading through One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, the chapter titled, "go lower". I nearly highlighted the whole chapter and just wanted to share some pieces of my heart (and Ann's) here. I'm willing to bet some of you can relate. ;) I am my own worst enemy. In trying to be a joyful mother, and all around woman, I have in fact snuffed it out. I have been holding on so tightly to my own control, that it has quenched the flame that is joy. I have been trying to control my environment in order to produce joy, yet in doing so I've only become frustrated when things don't go my way.

Ann said,

Joy is a flame that glimmers only in the palm of the open and humble hand.

The open hand represents a surrendered life--one not tightly closed on to control and self. But that is just what my hand has been doing; closing out all possibilities for real joy because I've been trying to create a false version through my own strength--my own stage of life.  I thought that if I added things that made me happy, I would find joy. Well, things don't make anyone happy for very long. Whether it is material items, knowledge, a hobby, girlfriends or anything else. None of these brings lasting joy when they are not preceded by Joy Himself.

The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy, writes Ann.

Could this be any more true for me? I have been clinging to my own agenda, my own needs, my own "rights", my own wants. But the truth is, I don't own anything. None of it is mine to begin with. This takes me right back to gratitude. I can be thankful for God's agenda, and that He provides for my every need, but I can't be the creator of it.

Ann goes on to say,

God does not give rights but imparts responsibilities----response-abilities----inviting us to respond to His love-gifts. ... Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control...let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. {Bold print mine} ... Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of the will.

-One Thousand Gifts

God gives us abilities--how are we responding to them? He gave me the ability to mother 5 children. Am I living the life He has called me to? Even more, He gave me the ability to worship Him, am I? It is not for me to do only what God can. It is only for me to obey--He does the doing. I want to open up my hand, the one carrying the flame [of joy] I am trying to protect, but am in fact suffocating--I want to open it so God's breath can fuel it. I must surrender---everything.

Question: Friend, what are you holding onto today?

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