Trendy Christianity

The Bible has no disclaimer saying “this might offend you, read with caution.” Similarly, this post will have no disclaimer at the end telling you that what you read is “to each his own.”

Let me tell you something, Christian to Christian, believer to believer. Maybe you are not a believer, but you have noticed this trend with your Christian friends. Here it is: WE (Christians) ARE MIRRORING THE WORLD.

What? Let me explain.

In trying to be inclusive and loving to everyone, which in itself is a good thing, we are becoming no different than the world around us, except for the big fat Christian label we place on ourselves. This is dangerous.

With that being said…listen. The church is not for us. It is not a sanctuary for ourselves. The church’s purpose is to glorify the Most High, the Father of the Universe, the Creator of life. Its purpose is to learn about Him, to honor Him through our fellowship, to love in the name of Christ.

Hip music. Concerts. All black. MacBooks. Densely highlighted bibles. Big churches. Blogs. Coffee shops. Enos. Perfect Instagram’s. Bible apps. Cool shoes. Hebrew tattoos. Journals with pages and pages of calligraphy.

If you took all of it away, would you still be in love with Christ?

This has become a new and hazardous comfort zone for so many Christians (and non-Christians). Christianity now has a concrete “look.” We know what to do. We know what songs to sing. We know the cool bloggers and the trendy speakers. We know what to wear.

A couple of days ago, I attended the Passion Conference in Atlanta. A woman who I respect immensely, Beth Moore, came and spoke some powerful words. I was deeply convicted about something God had placed on my heart for months now. She alluded to this…

We, millennial Christians, are sacrificing the truth of the Christian faith for “love’s sake.”

The TRUTH that we are abandoning is this: we are no longer foreigners in this land. We blend in. We make following Christ easy, lukewarm, concrete, hip, and fun.

Let me tell you this. We are called to be foreigners, outsiders, temporary residents.

1 Peter 1:1 calls us EXILES.

1 Peter 1:17 calls us FOREIGNERS.

1 Peter 2:11 calls us SOJOURNERS.

I do not know about you, but I am tired of living “trendy.” I can never keep up. It is exhausting. It is like high school all over again. I want to live by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Book, my convictions, through worship and praise. What an adventure!

What I am NOT saying is this: coffee shop fellowship and intense Christian jam sessions are bad.

What I AM saying is this: when our lives no longer reflect the cross, when our lives are comfortable, when we no longer hurt, when worship becomes something to put on Instagram, when we value ourselves and our image more than Christ, when shortcuts in our Christianity become the norm, when we no longer reflect on our own sin, when we gain a taste for inclusiveness but lose a taste for God, when are motifs are self-righteous… that is when it all becomes blasphemy.

Yes, world, use social media and artwork for the glory of God. Use instruments and fill arenas with people to glorify God. PRAISE GOD FOR THAT. But also let us die to self. Empty ourselves of our own ambitions. Suffer for Jesus. Bear disorder. Become comfortable being uncomfortable. Lose our pride.

Let us Christians become like Christ in His death.

 

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You Are Not Alone, You Are His (A Letter to the Newly Single Girl)

To Whom It May Concern,

I have seen you hurt and broken. I have seen you not want to come out of your room. I have seen you unable to throw away his things because you still believe the same loving boy is going to knock on your door with flowers and your favorite candy. I have seen you twiddling your thumbs over the send button hoping that text will bring him back. I have seen you look at his pictures and Snapchats wondering why he seems so much happier without you. I have seen it all.

My soul breaks and my body aches for you, because beautiful girl, I know where you are. I know you feel unlovable and unworthy and unhappy. It is such a fresh wound, even months out. You think you are fine and then you see him with someone else and your heart feels wrecked all over again.

I do not want you to fear the future. I want to look you in the eyes and tell you that one day you will be able to see him and not feel shattered. However, I know that is the last truth you can believe right now.

Here is my heart. I am writing this because I have seen my friends broken and depressed and alone. I speak that heart language. I can relate. I want to offer my two-cents on hope and empathy and truth.

You are not “replaceable.” In fact, you are very much irreplaceable. Every experience, all of the good and the bad, every fight, every laugh, and every memory is unique to you. There is no one in this world who will make him experience the same things that you did. God brings certain people into our life and He takes certain people away. That boy was taken away from you, but you will grow from the experiences you had together if you let God help you. Someone may be better equipped to be with him, but that does not take anything away from you. Him loving someone else does not mean you were unlovable. It means that God loved you enough to give you something better. 

One day, you will get those butterflies again. You will be able to invest in someone again. You will be able to be vulnerable without fear of getting your heart broken. Someone will love you with all of your quirks and flaws and goofiness and mood-swings. This was the hardest thing for me to grasp. After devoting so much of yourself to a relationship that did not work out, why would anyone ever want to do that again? Replace your fear with faith. My promise, you will have the energy and heart to love again.

Re-invent yourself in your singleness. Take a good, long, hard look at what worked and what did not work in your previous relationship. Focus on becoming the person you want to marry. Discipline yourself, ask God to heal your heart, and ask Him to help you grow in this season. Singleness is a time for immense spiritual growth. Do not underestimate what God can do in your season of waiting.

Lastly, there is no time limit on when it is acceptable to “date again.” I have had friends find their person two weeks after a break-up and friends who have taken years off dating. However, I know dating is scary. It can be the ultimate thing that affirms that our past relationship is over. Just make sure you pray that God has fully healed your heart before you do date. Do not “rebound” date when you should be using this time for healing and growing.

 Worth The Read

John 15:16

Ephesians 1:4

Deuteronomy 20:4

Remember that you are lovable. And you will be able to love again one day.

Inner Disposition

Let me fill you in on a little secret of mine.

Before I truly embraced my relationship with Christ, I would watch Christians. I would watch what they said, what they did, and how they treated others. To be honest, I was not that impressed. I did not have the best experiences with Christians. Often times, I felt judged, looked down upon, and excluded by them. They did not have much credibility in my mind. They called themselves Christians, but the only things that set them apart were their judgmental and close minded attitudes. I knew I never wanted to be that person. This completely turned me off of Christianity, religion, and Jesus.

When I started walking with the Lord, I knew I never wanted to be like that. But lately, I’ve been realizing how difficult that can be. It is difficult to love everyone. It is difficult to be inclusive. And sometimes I really suck at being a Christian. It really hurts to admit that. Sometimes I do things and realize that my integrity with people might have been tested. I am scared that others might look down on me. I fear that I am not set-apart. I get anxious that I might be the Christian that I used to dislike. It is a huge insecurity of mine.

I DON’T know how to be the perfect Christian.

But I DO know that I should pray these things daily

1. To love others well.

2. For my credibility to not be shaken.

3. To be set-apart.

This morning, I fell into that insecurity again. But God blessed me with some wise friends because they offered me the encouragement I needed. They reminded me that following Jesus is tough sometimes. Christians are held to a higher standard and sometimes we fall. It makes us human. That is what the cross is for.

In the wise words of my friend Alia… “When Christians fall, we don’t fall into an empty abyss to be lost and gone forever. We fall into a net that God placed there before hand because he knew we would fall. It’s kind of like a trampoline. We fall only to get right back up again.”

Here is some simple truth…

Psalm 103:12, MSG

“As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.”

2 Corinthians 7:10, MSG

“But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

2 Corinthians 4:16, MSG

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

Remember that God is radically renewing us and eternally changing our inner disposition. Don’t be discouraged when insecurities get the best of us.

 

 

Stay Rad

Accepting grace used to be a foreign concept to me. I did not know how to embrace this wonderful gift. I so often felt trapped by my sin, like I had four walls constantly surrounding me that defined me. Spacious living and boundless freedom were never supposed to be in the cards for me… or so I thought.

One night, I sat on my living room floor with my good friend Carli. She had recently discovered what freedom was. She knew what it was like to be in complete darkness, see the light in the far distance, and run for it with everything she had. She had joy and dance and laughter tattooed upon her life and all I knew was that I wanted what she had.

As we were sitting there, my eyes swelled up with tears. All I said to her in that moment was “I want your freedom.”

I was

burdened

heavy

lifeless

dull… because of my sin.

Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Writing this, Paul knew that is was possible for Christ followers to be “burdened again.” He knew that obstacles in life could recurrently bound us to slavery.

 

Slowly but surely I had to learn how to…

Reveal my sins.

  Accept his Grace

             Deny picking it back up.

That’s pretty… RAD… right?

As a permanent reminder of this radiant gift Christ has given me, and to always remember to accept His grace especially in the present, I tattooed a sound wave (that two of my best friends spoke) of the word “freedom.”

So here is to freedom, tattoo’s, and staying RAD.

Turn Your Mess Into Your Message

There is something so neat about people sharing their stories with you. It is a way to connect, laugh, and cry with each other on such a deeper level. They can be inspiring. They can be heartbreaking. They can send chills down your spine.  But as much as I love listening to them, thinking about sharing mine terrifies me.

I was asked by my small group leader to share my testimony. WHAT. My insides were screaming “no” but I politely responded with a “sure.” My anxiety levels were through the roof.

How do I even share my testimony?

What will people think of me?

Is my story “too much?”

With a troubled and confused heart, I prayed and asked God to show me what to share and how to share it.

Ironically, Passion City Church had sent me a free trial of their new devotional called “Simple Pursuit: A Heart After Jesus.” Two days after I said that prayer, the title of the devotional that day was “Your Honest Testimony.”

How cool is God.

Through this, I was taught a couple of things

  1. I am not sharing my testimony to reveal all of my deepest darkest secrets.
  2. My testimony is not “too much.”
  3. Testimonies are for giving real examples of what being brought from death to life really means.
  4. They show how radical a life change in Christ can be.
  5. Our story is not meant to lie dormant.
  6. Reveal how he breathes life into us e v e r y d a y and how His grace is, was, and always will be enough.

Testimonies are stories of hope and redemption. It is so important to be honest- do not worry about covering ANYTHING up. Speak boldly and be enthusiastically proud of your rebirth in Christ.

He has chosen us for our weaknesses, not our strengths. This magnifies our need for Him. Our stories are meant to be told.

“But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they said, “It was required that God’s Word be spoken first of all to you, the Jews. But seeing that you want no part of it—you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life—the door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said, “I’ve set you up as light to all nations. You’ll proclaim salvation to the four winds and seven seas!” When the non-Jewish outsiders heard this, they could hardly believe their good fortune. All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God—they honored God’s Word by receiving that life. And this Message of salvation spread like wildfire all through the region.” Acts 13:46-48

I encourage you to share your testimony with someone. Ask Christ to give you the courage to share your story of being brought from death to life. If it encourages just ONE person, you are furthering the kingdom of God and that is wondrous. 

 

 

A Letter to My Mission Team

When I first heard that there was a mission trip going to Haiti over spring break, I could feel it in my veins that I NEEDED to go on this trip. I do not exactly remember my motives for deciding I wanted to go on this trip, however. It could have been anything from getting to travel (which is a passion of mine), spending time with my sorority sisters, being able to play with kids, etc. Whatever my thought process was, I was pumped. The mission trip was put on by Chi Alpha, which is a christian organization on my college campus. I had met several people who were active here and even went on a super fun retreat with them before. I just knew that this trip was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Weeks before the trip, I started to prepare my heart. I wanted so badly to make a difference in Haiti. However, the more I tried to get my heart ready, the more doubtful I became of going on this trip. Everything seemed to not be in my favor: I was not raising enough money, I was getting very ill, I had very little details about the trip (which made me nervous), the Zika virus was coming out with reports that it was spreading more and more, Facebook posts went viral about “why mission trips to Haiti are not making a difference” and so on and so forth. What was worse was other people were getting sick and doubtful as well, which fueled the anxiety I was already having. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, was telling me that I should not go on this trip. I was scared.

I buried these feelings I was having and went anyways. I was still excited, I was just very nervous. I did not bring my fears and my worries to God like I should have. Instead, I just let them consume me… like the Devil wanted. Looking back, it all makes sense. The Devil hates this. He hates when people share the love of Jesus. He hates when people are getting their hearts ready for God’s great plan. He prowls and he attacks. He has no limits. Ephesians 6:11-12 says that we need to put on the whole armor of God…we do not know the schemes of the devil…and that we wrestle against the spiritual forces of evil. I can only thank God that I still decided to go, because let me tell you.. This trip was out-of-this-world and life-changing. But… I am not writing this to tell you about the trip. I am writing this about my mission trip team.

This team is silly. There is no other words to describe them. They are constantly laughing, constantly smiling, constantly joyful. On the outside, they seem nothing but goofy. I had only had recreational encounters with most of this team and thought that this was the only side of them they had. I even questioned how this trip was even going to mean anything because I truly thought they did not have a serious or emotional side. I mean.. I was always good at reading people, I MUST be right. But man, I was SO wrong.

I first want to talk about the men on this trip. Although the men were highly outnumbered by the girls on this trip, it was impossible not to constantly feel their presence. They were the one’s who set the tone for each day. Their energy spread like wildfires; when they were laughing, we were laughing, when they were quiet, we were quiet, when they became vulnerable, we become vulnerable. I saw a side of each one of these men I had never before seen in my life. The stories and testimonies that they shared were powerful and relatable; they longed to tell what Christ had done in their lives. They were not ashamed of their pasts- they were only thankful that God saved them. They were prayer warriors. They were constantly brought to their knees, constantly praising God with their bodies, constantly encouraging and uplifting others. They were the first to be outside every morning spending quiet time with the Lord. They were the first to help unpack bags, carry huge water bottles, hold open doors, let the women eat first, and to set up and break down. They treated all of the ladies with kindness and gentleness, always respecting our own vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses, and emotions. The Holy Spirit ran rampant within them; I could see it in their faces and hearts everyday. Thank you boys, for being leaders and examples of God-fearing men on this trip.

Now, my fellow ladies. It is impossible for me to generalize all of you. Each one of you all are so different, so unique, and so beautiful in your own ways. From worship and bible study leaders, to pageant girls, to prayer warriors, to the adventurers, to the jokesters, to the soft-spoken, to sorority girls, to the opinionative. If I had one word to sum up the women on this trip it would be “teacher.” There was not one woman on this trip I did not learn immensely from. These girls love with boldness. They are eager to listen, eager to share hard stories, eager to learn from others, eager to offer affirmation, eager to defend, eager to support, and eager to invest. A common goal of all of these girls was striving for better relationships. Multiple conversations came up where they wanted to connect with God and others more deeply. They wanted to love and be loved deeper. They embraced the people of Haiti with open arms, with adoration and acceptance. They connected with the Haitians despite the language barrier. They did not let anything stand in their way. These girls were DEPENDENT on God. They had experienced things in their life that they can only turn to Him to heal. They were more than willing to repent of their sins so they could be filled denser with the Holy Spirit. Some spoke quiet, intense prayers and others spoke bold and inspiring prayers. They talked about their hopes and dreams with such passion that made me excited for my own future. We had future women in ministry, mothers, doctors, engineers, service women, and so much more- all of these to further His kingdom. I have never felt so close to a group of girls more quickly. I will forever remember staying up late talking about the events of the day, being extremely silly, protecting ourselves from bugs via extreme bug nets, having rap battles, eating so many cheetos my stomach would burst (literally), singing together, praying together, and sharing our testimonies. I feel free and liberated because of each and every one of you girls lives and have so much love for you all. Thank you for serving the Lord and teaching me to trust in Him without any hesitation. Thank you for taking the road less travelled even when it means hardships. Thank you for not conforming to what the world wants you to be and being a light to so many other girls who are struggling everyday to choose between right and wrong. You ladies are so special, so beautiful, and so wonderful.

So here’s a little word to the Devil- you lost! God has won. Never will you win this battle. “…and if our God is with us, then what could stand against?” Nothing can stand against the men and women of God. Our God had a way of bringing completely different people together who compliment each other  Everyone on this trip was so unique and so different, there is no other way to describe it. We were each a puzzle piece, a different size, shape, and form, yet we fit together to create this beautiful, perfect picture that depicts what God wanted to happen on this trip so elegantly. God’s hand was with us the whole time- there is no doubt about that. I can only wait and see how God uses his people to further his righteous and divine Kingdom. I am ecstatic to see what the future holds.

 

Shout out to the team: Alia, Hallie, Bailee, Charles, Chris, Daniel, Gabby, Haley, Jeanne, Josh, Kaliya, Kandice, Kayla, Kelsie, Megan, Meghan, Michael, Rachel, Ryan (gimp), Carli, Stephen (with us in spirit), Sydney, and Taylor.

I want to say a special, special thanks to a few people: Gary for leading us, Russ for doing basically everything, Gabby for being a light, Carli and Charles for being bold in their testimonies, Kayla for being an awesome Bible story teller, Jeff and Suzanne and for being our parents for the week, the cooks for the incredible food, the bus driver for keeping us safe, and the wonderful people who let us stay in their homes.