Monday, November 30, 2015

A Second Adam

Today's passage is 1 Corinthians 15:45-57.

Yesterday, we discussed the brokenness of the world. From the beginning, humanity has been separated from Him. Humans are perishable. We can be overcome by illness, violence, sorrow, and even ourselves. The brokenness is not something we can fix alone. God knows this, and He grieves with us. He hates the divide as much as we do.

Adam was created by by a perfect God from the materials of this imperfect world. As broken as we are, dear friends, we're also made in His image.

God knew that we needed a second Adam. The first Adam failed, the second reigns victorious. The first Adam was responsible for the fall of man, the second for the salvation of man. The first Adam ushered in sin, the second forgave it. The first Adam lost paradise, the second has restored it. The first Adam was born into a perfect world, and he was doomed to the grave. The second was born to a broken world, and He conquered the grave.

God's solution to the divide was never us. His promise to us wasn't to "fix" us. It wasn't to make us "better" people. He took us out of it, entirely. What God gave us in Jesus is so much better than a second chance, because WE DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING to be reunited with God.

You hear that? We are so broken, and we don't even have to fix it. 

We can't. It's not possible. We try and try to "put on immorality" to walk with God, and if that's all we're doing, we will fail. We have no way to get the peace and freedom that Adam once had back on our own strength. Even if I make all the right moral choices, I can't even be reunited with God on my own efforts; I exhausted myself trying. I can't ever "do good" enough to restore what's been broken. In God's infinite wisdom, He showed us the way: only Jesus.

Questions to think about:

  1. How do you equip yourself to walk with God?
  2. Is it working?


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Did God Really Say?

Today's passage is Genesis 3:1-15.

A lot of people describe their salvation stories like they just accepted Jesus way back in Kindergarten and that was it. No questions. No doubts. No struggle. They just happily rode off into the sunset with Jesus after VBS on some magical unicorn of Holiness. This has, at times, left me feeling insecure and really weird for my story not being this way.

Mine is not an instantaneous story of salvation. I had many moments of things "clicking" with me, only to be pulled back into darkness. It was a near constant battle between dark and light. Tumultuous. Dramatic. Exhausting. A lot of push and pull.

Here's the thing, though. I always knew I was lost. I always knew there was something missing. And I almost always went to church. But it was a long time before I really started to connect the dots. Most of my life, I have struggled with God even though I wanted to love Him with all my heart and strength. I think my head told me the process on how to be a Christian long before my heart ever caught up with how to live as one.

I hid from Him a long time, not unlike Adam and Eve in in Genesis. Scared. Ashamed. Chock full of guilt. Alone.

Like so many others, the lie of the serpent kept me hiding. The serpent is a skilled deceiver. He is a master of his craft.

Notice in Genesis 3:1 that the serpent never just flat commanded Eve to eat the fruit. He doesn't say "C'mon. Just eat the fruit." He actually says: "Did God really say…" which got Eve thinking about the benefits of eating the fruit, which made her act all on her own.

Can I just tell you how many moments of "Did God really say?" I have had in my time here on Earth? Actually, I can't… because there have been too many to count. However, I can share the most repetitive one with you: "Did God really say that He loves you?" That serpent, he plays a good game, y'all. He worked well with the circumstances of my life to pull me back into his darkness. I had been surrounded by chaos and turmoil most of my life, so that was an easy one for me to believe.

That wedge put between me and God remained for a long time. It overpowered me, after I accepted Jesus, even. Sometimes it still can. Adam and Eve literally walked through the garden in the presence of God and the serpent was STILL able to put a wedge in that relationship.

On our own, we are powerless to overcome that deception. I tried. My word did I try. I signed up to bring food, I went to church, I volunteered all the time, I read the books, I read the blogs, but still…. That nagging voice in my head would say "Did God really say He loves you?" And because I left God out of it, it was just me in a battle for light and dark, I would always lose. I will always lose on my own strength because this issue isn't fixable without divine intervention.

We can't look through a newspaper or even a Twitter feed without experiencing the brokenness of this world. There is pain. There is deceit. There is abuse. There is sorrow. There is violence. The towers fell in New York. Boston was bombed. A piece of a Charleston congregation was slaughtered. Paris was attacked. The Middle East is in a constant state of war. Sometimes, it feels like the sky is falling and everything is coming apart at the seams. This world is on fire. Our world is so broken. It's been this broken since the beginning--it has only had but few moments of absolute peace. This divide is a war that is more powerful than we could ever be. We cannot do this alone. Only Jesus.

Questions to think about:

  1. What are your "Did God really say…" thoughts?
  2. How have you tried to overcome them?
  3. Did it work for you?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Red Cups Aren't Religious Persecution

Ugh. It feels like every year, there's a "War on Christmas". What I mean by this is that American Christians pick up some cause to "keep the Christ in Christmas". They get offended on some level and say that their faith is being persecuted. We can't say "Xmas"--we have to say "Christmas". We can't say "Happy Holidays". We have to say "Merry Christmas". And HEAVEN FORBID some corporation doesn't mention Christmas! Because this flock of "persecuted Christians" will angrily come out in droves.

This year, the unlucky target is Starbucks. Some people want to boycott Starbucks because their cups are simply red and there's no mention of baby Jesus or the word Christmas on it. Clearly, that means Christianity is being persecuted by these red cups of the Antichrist.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks


Look, y'all. You won't see me hating on Starbucks this Christmas. First of all, I adore their Salted Caramel Mocha and I will be enjoying those all through the winter season. Second, my faith is no different whether I drink coffee out of a red Starbucks cup or out of a ceramic mug with baby Jesus waving the American flag on it. And you know what, "persecuted Christians?" Neither is yours.

What if I told y'all that Starbucks not using the word "Christmas" will in no way hurt Christianity or Christians? Seriously. No Christians were harmed during the production of these plain red cups, I assure you. Radical Communism hasn't killed Christianity. The Roman Empire didn't either. I promise you Starbucks has no power to destroy the faith, despite their best efforts to sell legal addictive stimulants in their {clearly} Satanic cups.

You know what else? There is very real religious persecution of Christians all over the globe. In places like North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, and more... people can be {and are} slaughtered for professing their Christian faith. To say that an overpriced cup of coffee is religious persecution is an insult to all of them. As a matter of fact, Open Doors compiled a list and a map of the 50 countries with the worst religious persecution for Christians here, and you guessed it: the United States isn't on it. So for every Christian who goes on Facebook tirades about suffering religious persecution here, please stop. You're not even sparsely persecuted here. You're just making the rest of us {and yourself} look bad.

You know who you sound like? Regina George. You sound like someone who's pitching a temper tantrum because you're not the most popular girl in school anymore.

Your faith is no longer the mainstream thing. You long for a time for all other groups to be pushed to the fringes of society and that makes you pitch a fit. I suggest you find something worth pitching a fit over, like starving children or actual religious persecution.

You don't have to worry about being beheaded for our faith here in America, and we're free to gather freely and publicly without even being taxed to do so. Yet you're claiming that Starbucks not referencing Jesus on a paper cup is persecution. This is asinine. Absolutely asinine. Do you think for one second that Jesus would care if He were or were not mentioned on Starbucks cups? I think not. I think He does care about how we reflect Him, however. And right now, you "persecuted Christians" ranting about Starbucks cups are acting spoiled and selfish. It's far more disgusting than a Venti Eggnog Latte with no Jesus on the cup.

Drop your red cup cause. And pick up a cause that's actually worth carrying, people. Ya know, like loving your neighbor, Christian or not.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Chicken Chili Verde

If you think about it, Halloween is a super weird holiday. But America gets super into it. We go and buy perfectly good gourds and hack them to death. We then display our mutilated pumpkin flesh on our porches so everyone can see exactly how bad we fail at Pinteresting. Weird. When the night falls, we dress our kids up in costumes and tell them to go knock on strangers doors to beg for food. Weird. Usually, frightening small children by turning your property into a haunted graveyard is frowned upon. But on Halloween, you get fist bumps and retweets for it. So weird!

It is a weird holiday… But I do love participating. If for no other reason, we do a new chili recipe each year. We then come up with an awesome topping bar so we can create our crazy delicious concoctions.  This year, I made chicken chili verde and the reviews were stellar!