Why I cringe when I hear Christians say “we live in a fallen world”

2017 took from me. I lost a lot of peace. I lost way too much focus. I even lost a friend.

My heart felt constantly challenged at the mercy and grace of a God “who could let such horrible things happen.” Fires, floods and hurricanes frequent news headlines of devastation. Where was God in all that?

My soul cringed at the remarks on how God “would let a man such as he be the President” of our country. Or worse yet, the belief that God somehow condones this President’s actions because a well-known evangelical somewhere endorsed the President.

2017 screamed at me and shook my heart. The undeniable attention drawn to sexual harassment was startling and sad. My heart grieved at the thousands and thousands of voices shouting for recognition of sexual assault. Recognition that will hopefully keep moving towards reconciliation. Towards healing.

From the raging voice of man behind the pulpit to the sneering grab of a woman’s breast on a bus, these voices are shouting an irrefutable reminder: we live in a fallen world, full of free will and choice. A world full of sin.

I hate when people say that sometimes. I even sort of squint my eyes shut and shake my head when I read it.

It can feel so compassionless. So graceless. So condescending to one’s emotions. Maybe even invalidating to those emotions.

But above all, I hate it because for the angry and for the unbelievers, it typically stops there.

To the angry heart, living in a fallen world doesn’t help them find healing from the badgering boss who forced you to have sex with him so you could keep your job. Living in a fallen world is not going to bring back your burnt family photos from a ravenous fire. Living in a fallen world doesn’t shed light on the darkness of a shooting as a young child’s blood smears the concrete.

Yes, we live in a world full of nasty, heart-wrenching sin.

And my heart aches for the unbeliever who stops there.

Because you know what we also live in?

A world full of hope.

A world full of hope that’s been giving to us by the one who died on the cross while we were all still sinners.

Jesus didn’t just die for the victims to find hope; he died so the murderer could find healing too.

If we don’t believe in the hope of healing and restoration for the victim and the predator, then we’ll never see past our fatalistic predictions.

All the shouts for change and reformation will fall on deaf ears when the next shooting occurs or when we hear of another boss assaulting a coworker.

We’ll never see God’s grace for what it really is.

Real change comes from healed hearts.
Real change comes from accepting God’s grace.

We live in a world full of hope not only when we see the victim forgiving the perpetrator, but when we see the perpetrator find God too.

We live in a world of hope when the victim’s family publicly and privately forgive the shooter, and their act of grace and forgiveness through the power of Jesus, brings restoration for the shooter.

We are called to bring God’s light into the dark. How would we know we live in a dark, deathly world, if not for God’s life-giving light?

And to be even more honest, I struggle with this calling. I struggle knowing how I, as a 30 something, white, middle-class privileged female can bring about any change.

I struggle with my own fatalistic thinking.

But when I look into the innocent eyes of my son, playing with the water in our kitchen sink, I know what I’m supposed to do.

When I see my sweet daughter laugh at her brother’s silly dance moves, I know what I’m supposed to do.

When I see my neighbor crying on the porch, I know what I’m supposed to do.

When I see a text from my friend whose husband is having an affair, I know what I’m supposed to do.

When I think about the books, movies, and music my children will listen to, I know what I’m supposed to do.

Those seem obvious “I know what I’m supposed to dos”.

What isn’t so obvious is what to do when my husband hurts me or when I hear about an old friend of ours molested his daughter. What isn’t so obvious about what to do is when a family member reaches out after years of anger and bitterness.

Those not so obvious moments are our opportunity to bring about progression and hope.

I bring God’s light into the lives of those around me by loving them as God has called me to because with his grace in me, I can.

I educate myself to bring diversity into our household so my children know more than what they’re privileged to. I teach my children about body boundaries and pray my heart out over their protection. I pray for protection at my husband’s work from a walk-in gunman.

I pray for hope. I believe in hope. I use grace to guide my decisions and forgiveness to lead my heart.

I listen to God’s still small voice in my heart about raising my children believing they will hear his still small voice in their hearts.

I do something for someone else today.

I accept that my form of bringing about God’s light into this world may look different than how God has called you to. And because of that, I don’t think your way is any more or less than mine.

Because in the end, we’re both being obedient to what God has called us.

And that’s how we change our world. No, not change. Change implies that we have the sole power to make things right. And we don’t. We can bring about progress. We can bring about a push towards a world that is closer to Christ.

We have the ability to shed God’s hope, so when we hear we live in a fallen world, we can say that only with God’s strength, we’re helping us get back up again.

Marriage: Laughter Instead of Anger

Ken Davis cracks me up! I’ve always appreciated his humor and enthusiasm for life. If you’ve never heard of him, you should check him out. This video makes me think of Mike and me later down the road. Shoot, we’re about like that now when we’re trying to argue across the house!

A few years ago I started making a “Top 10” list. I reflect on the past year, how I’ve grown, things I experienced, read, accomplished, and look at how God revealed himself to me through out the year. At the top of the list for this year will be “Learning to laugh more with Mike, instead of getting angry.” Here is a perfect example of what I mean.

I am a terrible passenger driver, as is Mike. I’m quick to criticize Mike and his driving. I typically criticize him on his speed, not because he’s going too fast, but because he goes slow! Yes, I know. Opposite of what you might’ve thought. I am really in to watching lights and the pedestrian signs. I watch the countdown to try and make the light. I think I became an expert at this because I used to have to drive across town almost every day to get to work. So, Sunday morning rolls around and we’re running late to church. I always say I think God was playing a joke on me when He picked Mike for me, who as it turns out, is the slowest person I know and I am very much the opposite. Yah, we’re almost always late to church because of Mike. Anyways, I find myself saying often to Mike, “if you would have been going the speed limit, we would have probably made that light.” And there it is. The beginning of one of the most ridiculous arguments, on the way to church no less! Ha! I remember one time as we were making our way to church, I had coffee. I was pregnant and thinking about how this was probably going to make me pee all morning at church. We were running late, of course, and I noticed we had already stopped at two lights that we probably could have made if we were going a smidge faster. I roll my eyes, thinking Praise and worship will be over by the time we get there. Bad mood ensuing. No, don’t try to hold my hand while you’re driving. I’m trying to be irritated with you. laughterangermarriage
As I’m thinking of ways to be snooty with him, Mike quickly puts on the brakes before a light and some coffee spills on me. I can instantly tell that he’s expecting me to come unglued. In that instant, I thought to myself, if Asher was in the car, how it would look if I so disrespectfully get mad at Mike? The Holy Spirit reminded me of a verse I had read that morning from Proverbs. Side note: a friend of mine had said that if you aren’t sure what to read from the Bible, Proverbs is a good book to pick a c

hapter to read based on the day of the month. So, if it’s the 15th, I would read the 15th chapter in Proverbs. Anyways, I was about to get angry at Mike. I was reminded of Proverbs 15:15.

“A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song.” (MSG)

I chose to laugh. I made some silly remark about how the coffee would attract people to my growing stomach anyways. Mike chuckled back. The drive to church instantly took a lighter mood. I think of other times when Mike would do things that would normally easily irritate me, but instead, I chose to laugh about it. I want to live the most joyful, cheerful, life possible. I can’t do that on my own. I’d get angry trying! The Holy Spirit continues to reveal His Word to me. The Holy Spirit is the one who

helps me grow in this area. Reminding me to always giving thanks. Counting it joy in the trials, knowing that I’m growing as a person. Laughter gives strength to spirit. Proverbs says a twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart (15:30). I think a twinkle in the eye also means more joy in your home. A home that I want to not only be joyful for Mike’s sake when he comes home from a hard day’s work, but also a joyful home for Asher to thrive in, especially as he gets older.

I’m certainly not perfect at this. There are always moments when I criticize instead of keeping my mouth shut or laughing with Mike so he doesn’t feel bad. Sometimes we jokingly do the “What?” game as Ken Davis joked to diffuse an argument. But the Spirit is helping me try not to watch the pedestrian lights count down anymore, at least while Mike’s driving.


Why Can’t I Just Forgive?

Some times when I’m mad at Mike, he might ask me if I’m still mad at him. Sometimes I respond, “I’m only on seventy times two right now!” He knows I’m referring to Peter in the book of Matthew.

“At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, ‘Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?’

Jesus replied, ‘Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.’ ”     Matthew 18:21-22

I always thought it was kind of funny that Peter gave a number of times when he asked Jesus this question. Seven does seem like a mystical number in the Bible. Maybe Peter was thinking, Hey, I can live with seven times, I mean six just doesn’t quite seem enough and more than that just gets to be too much! Ha! I can just see Jesus throwing his hands and shaking his head while slightly exclaiming, Seven! Thinking, Oh Peter, if you only understood

Why was Peter asking this? Jesus just finished explaining to them the importance of working out conflicts with someone who has hurt you. He makes it sound like a “process” of actively pursing and choosing to forgive that person. Jesus said try talking to him, if that doesn’t work, talk to him with someone else present, and if that doesn’t work, talk with someone who might offer guidance to him and guess what? If that doesn’t work, “you’ll have to start from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love” (Matt. 18:17).


What?!? Start from scratch? That might be why sometimes I feel like I just can’t reach forgiveness with someone. It also sounds like a lot of work to reach forgiveness. Although, he did mention seventy times seven, hmmm… Why is forgiveness so hard?

I’m not one who believes that I have to do tons of work to get God to love me or forgive me. If I do this and this and this then all is well in the God department. I don’t think it works that way. Now, when it comes to forgiving someone else, I do think there is an action required on my part. I think Jesus is pointing out that you have to choose to forgive. That is an action of course, but by making that choice, you have to trust God will take care of the rest. Notice how he doesn’t say, once you do these steps for forgiveness, the other person will finally understand. No, he says you might have to start over, meaning you might have to keep choosing to forgive that person. And you might have to do it seventy times seven times! He doesn’t say you will get that other person to change their ways. He doesn’t say you will get that other person to come forth and apologize. I’m starting to think the whole forgiveness “process” is really for the person who is hurt, more than it is for the person who has hurt you.

That’s not to say your actions of continuously choosing to forgive a person wont have an impact on them, but I wouldn’t worry about it being your responsibility to change that person’s feelings. Yikes! That is way easier said than done. I have to trust that I am doing what I believe is right and God will take care of the rest. I’ve heard several pastors say something along the lines of how forgiveness is really for you, the person who is hurt. I think Joyce Meyer said once that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill the other person. Double Yikes! I don’t really think about that when I’m caught up in the anger I’m feeling or bitterness. Although, I bet poison tastes pretty bitter…

I’m a big believer in speaking the Word out loud. So, what do I do when I’m harboring unforgiveness and letting it eat away at me? I speak God’s truth out loud. Even if I don’t feel it, that doesn’t mean it wont


work in my heart. The Holy Spirit is the one who ministers to my heart. I particularly like Galatians 5:1

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you!”

I like this verse because it reminds me that I am letting unforgiveness make me a slave and I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I realize that I am letting Satan control my emotions. I am free! Woohoo! I don’t have to feel that way! None of us do. I’m going to choose that freedom. Even if it’s seventy times seven times or whobody knows how many times.