No Condemnation

(R.E.S.P.E.C.T)<--In My Best Aretha

Franklin Voice

This post may get mixed reviews. I may make some people slightly uncomfortable, but in the words of Gianna Jessen, "I wasn't put here to make people comfortable. I was put here so that I could shake things up a bit."

I try not to get overly-involved in political matters because nothing seems to stir up hatred and anger like talking politics does. I will happily share my views and beliefs (both political and non-political [my faith] ) with anyone who asks, and I believe that we are called to spread the good news of Christ (Mark 16:15), but it breaks my heart to see believers cutting down other people because of their difference in beliefs. I'm not talking religion here, I'm talking politics. That's right, I'm dipping my toes in this boiling hot pit of political lava. But hey, God saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace, so what do I really need to be afraid of? (Daniel 3:19-29)
I'll be honest with you, I don't fully agree with many of the standards of left-wing libertarianism (i.e. abortion), but I also don't agree with what seems to often accompany right-wing conservatism (i.e. slandering & belittling). It seems that often, right-wing conservatives spend much of their time defending their beliefs by way of belittling and talking down to others instead of embracing what they believe. (Titus 3:9)
Christians: We are called to love...unconditionally. That means we are supposed to share God's love with the "liberals," the "conservatives," the "independents," and even those who don't bother with politics. Jesus himself said "Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:34-35

I've seen self-proclaimed Christians post pictures and statuses on Facebook and various other places on the internet all but screeching out their hatred for anyone who doesn't share their views.

Just because the Constitution declares separation of church and state doesn't mean our hearts have to.

We shouldn't separate Christ from anything in our lives. Even our political views. Politics are a dangerous thing; they're a breeding ground for hatred and contempt; so we should tread lightly and keep our eyes fixed on God. After all, He is the only true ruler. "...I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.Matthew 28:18
No matter who our current president or "ruler" is, we can't forget who is really in control. Not Obama, not Congress, not even the IRS (though they seem to be controlling my paychecks pretty well :P). But remember what I said earlier about being called to love everyone? You wanna take a little guess at who that includes? Thaaaat's riiiight...That includes Obama, Congress, and even *gasp* the folks over at the IRS.
"Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God's servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God's servants, sent for the purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but to keep a clear conscience.
Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority." Romans 13:1-7
If we feel that someone isn't doing their God-appointed job correctly, then instead of spending our time trash-talking them, we should spend time in prayer; asking God to provide wisdom and direction to the ones that hold earthly positions of authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

It's okay to disagree. We're human, and we won't all always agree on everything, but one thing that we can do is treat each other with the loving kindness and respect that God has graciously given us.

"Respect everyone, and love your brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect The King."

*I hope that I haven't offended anyone with this post. That was not my intention.
My sole intention was to allow God to open the eyes of others and myself through the words that I believe He has spoken to my heart.*


Undeserved & Unreserved

(How He Loves)

The other day, my roommate and I were talking about life and God and where we fit in in His grand scheme of things; and she brought up an interesting point...She looked at me, and she said, "You know, when something bad happens to me, I think 'God must be punishing me for doing this or for doing that,' and I forget that God actually loves me."
Her words hit me pretty hard because I have the same problem. I often find myself falling into the mindset of 'if I mess up, God is going to be mad at me.' But if I put all of my eggs into the self-righteous basket, then I'm missing the big message; the message that Jesus himself came to the world to share: God's love and grace are undeserved and unreserved. There's nothing that we can do to deserve His love (We would only fall discouragingly short if we tried), and there is nothing that we can do to make Him love us any more or less than He does.
His love is fierce, it's overwhelming, and it's forgiving.
One of my favorite songs, How He Loves (originally written and performed by John Mark McMillan) captures the immensity of God's awe-inspiring love wonderfully.

*Note: This video contains graphic violent content*

After watching those clips combined with that song, I was weak in the knees and had tears welling up in my eyes. Sometimes I tell people that God's love makes me want to laugh and cry uncontrollably at the same time. This video does that for me. There's just something about seeing Christ's sacrifice played out in front of my very eyes that puts it all into perspective for me, and then I realize how much He truly loves us; how He loves me.

v. To give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.
n. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another.

We don't often tie the words 'love' and 'surrender' together, but it's as if they were created for each other. We have to surrender to the love of Christ to fully experience it. I learned this particular lesson the hard way (I don't think any other methods of learning have ever worked for me). I tried so hard to be worthy of God's love, and I kept coming up short. Not just by a little, but by light years. And finally, after 20+ years of trying, I'm just starting to realize that God's love isn't something that we earn or work for, it's something that we surrender to.

It doesn't matter how beaten down you are, or how lost you think you might be, God loves you! I really can't express enough how exciting that is. If I could stand on top of a mountain, with the world as my audience, and shout, "He loves us! He loves you! His love is never ending!" I would. I literally feel no shame for my faith. I want the whole world to know how He loves.


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