Apparently I Am WAY Right!

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I’ve recently been told by a friend that I’ve been described as “One who sits way far to the right.” I don’t believe the person was talking about politically either, since I’ve never had any personal conversation with the one making the assumption about me.

Really? If that’s the worst someone can say about me, praise God! I hope I’m guilty. I am trying to live an uncompromised life, but I will be the very last person to say that I’m a success at it. So, why then does this accusation from someone I barely know trouble me?

We live in a world that’s doing its very best to cut down those who are trying to do good, or “right”, yet it elevates and honors those who are for every vile and immoral thing. My heart is troubled because even in our churches compromise is applauded and masked by a freedom speech.

I do believe!

I believe, “It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us].” The verse in Galatians 5:1 continues, “Therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].” So what’s the yoke we’ve been freed from?

I like the way Bible Study Fellowship summed this up. They wrote, “True freedom, which God gives, is the freedom not to sin.” We’ve been set free from sin’s chains, set free so we do not have to live according to the flesh but are now yoked to Christ, able to live as He lived.

I’m not talking about living by a set of rules, as if the law will set me free. No one can earn the freedom found in Christ. We also cannot swing the pendulum so far to the other side, we’ll call it the left for the sake of this writing. Living by the law can bind me to a works based faith, which would be wrong, but we must also remember that Jesus also said that “He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” Again, you cannot earn your freedom in Christ. It is a free gift, but as being people who have been given this free gift, should we not want to live lives that represent the Holy God we say we serve? There are guidelines we must hold fast to, so that the world around can see God and not just another image of itself.

It is belief and acceptance in Jesus being God’s own Son, and in His sacrificial death and resurrection where we obtain salvation. Christ sets us free – nothing more and nothing less than Jesus.

I know I’m free. I know that nothing I can do, or be, will pay my way into heaven. I know that I have been forgiven and I am already an heir to the Kingdom of God. It is because I know these truths that I don’t want to compromise my lifestyle – my daily walk – my life’s testimony.

Why boundaries?

What’s the harm if I choose not to do that thing that may be permissible, so that I can possibly obtain that which is God’s perfect desire for my life? Or I might choose not to do something that I know in my heart is ok because it will cause another person around me to struggle. Something may not be sin for me but could be a struggle for another person. Is it worth me proving my “freedom” over helping my brother or sister get stronger in their weakness? Certainly not!

I choose some strict boundaries in my life, not to bind me but to truly be free. Alcoholism runs on both sides of my family. I’ve buried many aunts and uncles and visited my own brother in prison because they were bound by the bottle. Knowing the addictive thread lacing throughout my family history, should I even risk it? It’s not just my family that have had struggles in this area. I know many. I stood on countless platforms in prisons, rehab centers, and churches where people were battling the “spirits”. I’ve talked with thousands of people and not one of them ever told me they dreamed about growing up to be an alcoholic, but most deeply grieve ever having taken that first drink.

One Christmas, I baked a dark chocolate chip rum cake. I had no idea that a person who struggles with alcoholism can relapse, or at least have a tremendous struggle by the smell or flavor baked into something, and someone did relapse. I don’t blame myself for the person’s regress, but I sure could have helped them by not putting the temptation in their midst. Will I make the cake again? Yes, but I won’t ever make it to take to a gathering because I don’t always know who it is that’s fighting that particular tug-of-war. Does that sound a little too “far to the right”? It probably is to some, but for me it’s about allowing God to stop a generational curse in my family and being a safe place for others. I’m ok with being my brother’s keeper when needed. It’s an honor, and I appreciate help from my peers when I’m facing a weakness.

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In a world that screams at us about not judging and being tolerant, I seem to be under a constant watchful eye, both by the world and the body of Christ. That’s all the more reason for me to do my best to live out what I say I believe. This is not a “would everyone stop picking on me” blog. Oh No! It’s a “hallelujah I must be doing something right” note. Most every day I pray for God to lead my every step, and I ask Him to never let me fall. I pray for His strength and guidance because I am well aware of my weaknesses. I cannot worry about what people think of my strong stand, but I must choose to make my life about Who people see in me.

Just to be clear, I don’t believe you will go to hell for having a drink. I’ve also faced scrutiny for the fact that I firmly believe it’s wrong for me to have a friendly coffee or dinner with a married man when his wife cannot be present, and take every precaution to never ride in a car alone with a married male friend. I’ve seen far too many innocent friendships turn into full-blown affairs and families destroyed because “We’re just friends” won a battle in a mind. Compromise usually does start out small and innocent, but can lead to massive devastation. I counsel women, asking them to put themselves in the shoes of the man’s wife. How would you feel? Even the most confident women fight insecurity, and even deep God-fearing saints can be lured into a sinful trap. I then ask the ladies to take some sincere time in prayer for their friend’s marriage, calling his wife’s name out loud to God. Knowing that marriage is a covenant commitment with God, I don’t even want to cause others to question.

Please know that I don’t write in judgment or condemnation. I fail and need grace like everyone else, but to choose to live a lifestyle of compromise is living under the world’s grace, not God’s. One of the greatest deceptions in the church body today is thinking that we can ingest the fruit of this world and still expect to produce the fruit of God’s holiness.

“It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.”  – 1 Peter 2:15-16

Life’s choices are not always a question of something being a sin or not. It could be as simple as pausing to evaluate, will this decision best represent the God I say I serve? Am I loving well in this moment? Don’t compromise who you are. Don’t swing the pendulum so far off-balance that you fear every decision. There will always be critics out there who are just looking for a reason to find fault, and often they’re trying to defer attention off of something in their own life. Love and obey God, and love people – even the critic.

How far to the “right” are you willing to be?

~Shannan

“Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble.”  Romans 14:20

“There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends.”  John 15:13

To Weed or Not To Weed

“The only way we can create and maintain a hunger for God is to protect our soul by choosing what we fill it with.” – John Bevere

Healthy Soil

As I was mopping my floors, I paused to look out my dining room window. While looking down from the second story of my home, I let out a sigh of both frustration and relief. My frustration was for the fact that I am the only one to blame for the mess my lawn is in, and my relief is for the amazing Cutting Crew who did such a great job aerating and seeding my yard a few weeks ago.

This house is a lot of work. With the help of a few friends and a few emotional meltdowns, I’ve done okay with keeping up with it (for the most part). Unfortunately, the time needed and the absence of man-muscles on this feminine body caused me to shrug my shoulders when it came to caring for the soil on which my house is built. I reasoned away my neglect by becoming content with the weeds and with the image that all was being cultivated properly. As long the yard looked tidy and green for the neighbors, it was easier to live with the weeds than to deal with them. They just take so much time and energy.

I stood peering out my window and thought about how much easier it would have been had I dealt with the few weeds when I moved into this house. Now those few weeds have grown and overtaken my entire yard. At the time it seemed okay and logical to not be so concerned with a few small issues. It didn’t seem to be such a big deal. After all, my yard was trimmed and looked colorful and well-kept on its surface, but underneath the facade the life was slowly being sucked from the soil–the very foundation on which my house is built. Thankfully there’s a thread of healthy grass that remains, though not easily seen. It too would have been choked to death had I not begun the process of healing my lawn this past fall.

The lessons from my lawn are a great example of how quickly one small compromise can grown into a massive life-saving renovation. I could continue to ignore my yard and hope the weeds will stay and remain a nice green color to appease myself and trick my neighbors, but then who would be the fooled? That green color soon turns to a yard washed away by erosion and my neighbors are not fools, so that would leave only me wearing that title.

Sin does the same thing in our minds and hearts. First we reason away our choice to compromise, then that compromise leads to a softening of the soil of our heart. Each compromise to follow becomes easier and our hearts become less and less concerned or aware of the erosion taking place. The facade gets harder to keep up, if possible at all. A heart that was once so passionate for righteousness becomes desensitized to God and all He asked of us when we first placed our trust in Him.

Have you ever wondered to yourself, “How did I ever end up here?” Have you ever questioned where the zeal went that you had when you first trusted Christ as Savior? I’m not referring to just the emotions you had. Emotions ebb and flow, but what happened to the sold out commitment that burned in your innermost part of your heart and soul?

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The weeds trick us with their outward beauty, making it appear easier to live with them than to deal with them. They can be painful and really hard to uproot, but if we continue to ignore them we will only be left dried up and thirsty in the soil of our soul. Choosing to be content with only the appearance of a healthy heart will rob us of the abundant life God has for us. We fool no one but ourselves. Sure it seems easier at the moment, but there’s always a high price in the end and a whole lot more energy exhausted fixing a bigger problem than what we first started with.

Though the weeds try to fool us, we have no one to blame but ourselves when we choose to turn a blind eye to something that needs to be uprooted in our lives, or if we compromise and let something in that never should have been allowed in the first place.

So much can be learned from my experience with my yard. God’s immeasurable love for us causes Him to relentlessly pursue us. He’s so rich in grace that He will even have His creation speak His truth to us. Our job is to listen, to respond, and then to continue cultivating the soil of our heart by filling it with His life-giving Word.

Thankfully there’s a thread of healthy grass that remains, so it’s not too late to begin caring for the soil on which your house is built.

~ Shannan

Have Courage To Cultivate

Have Courage To Cultivate