Jesus, Labels, and Evaluation

Anyone else feel as if they  have been put into a washing machine on high spin for eighteen months and suddenly the machine has been turned off?

I’ve started this blog entry literally more times than I can count.  I’ve gone to this place in prior blogs, but I seem to be further along now….and still facing just as many questions.  Folks, this election has made me weary.  Just flat out exhausted.  So many emotions, over so many months….taking this broken girl and her heart and her beliefs on a very unplanned journey-well, not unplanned…a journey I was already on, but this election accelerated it.

For the record, we can mark in stone that I love Jesus. I believe He died and rose again on the third day. I believe in the sovereignty of God.  I believe that His Word is the period at every statement. I believe in the red letters of Christ just as much as I believe the sun sets in the west.  Yet, with all that disclosed, I am changed now….I’m different than just eighteen months ago.  I believe, I am changed for the better, or at least in the process of that direction.  Some, may wonder if I have fallen to the wayside, some may take my journey as an attack on where they are…and I certainly don’t mean for it to ever come off that way…it’s an attack on where I am…where I was for sure.

I’ve identified with the Evangelical label for as long as I can remember.  Maybe I didn’t know what that was back as a young follower of Christ, but I said I was a Southern Baptist, and Evangelical like a badge of honor on my chest.  Almost a “I believe what’s right, you believe what’s wrong” approach.  Then, somewhere along the way, I began to not feel as if I “fit”….questioned my salvation…God assuring me it was secure….so why did it feel so lost in what should feel like home?  I knew I didn’t agree with what was being touted as “feel good theology” so I knew not to go there.  I knew I didn’t agree with the new “prosperity theology”, so I knew it was equally as wrong for me.  I knew I believed fully in the red letters of Christ.  So, I began my journey there….seeking to figure out what that meant for me in a world I had become so comfortable in…my little SBC bubble of life.  That was probably six years ago….maybe seven.  No one knew….not  my spouse or my children. There was a period that I was literally broken in half…and at a crossroads.  Few knew….and few know to this day.

I went to church.  I served.  All the while, questioning why I felt so lost in what should feel like home.  Why I would leave on Sundays angry…I don’t mind leaving convicted, but I shouldn’t leave angry.  Isn’t the point to attend and leave challenged to be working to be more like Christ…to be a witness to a world seeking hope? (Please do not take my comments as not loving my church-I did, I still do.  Some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my entire life. A man in the pulpit that loves Jesus with every cell in his body.  But this blog, it’s about my heart…my journey and the questions it has raised towards myself…towards an entire label.)

Then, we moved.  I was forced to leave my bubble of life….my comfort zone…even when I felt so uncomfortable sometimes, it was familiar…it was safe…it was mine.  I moved to an area where I couldn’t just look up a FBC in the phone book, go sit down and continue.  I moved to an area where my normal didn’t exist.  I moved where Jesus was loved, but church was far different…the pulpit was different…the mission was different and yet the same….everything was different and yet, with Jesus still center…the same.

During this period of adjustment, we landed in three churches before our current landing.  Meeting some amazing people, some of which I call “friend” today.  And like only our God can do, He tossed an election into my lap and said..ok, Kim, what about all of this?  Here I was, already deep into a journey of uncertainty of where I fit….and then He forced me to take in one of the ugliest elections in my lifetime.  One that broke every norm.  During the election, right when it was really starting to become nothing short of horrific to watch, is when we landed at our current church.  It was by chance we landed there at all, but then again, God isn’t into “by chance.”

Christine Caine was coming to speak at a local mega-church.  I am a huge Caine fan.  I had to go.  We “cheated” on our church at the time and went.  And it happened.  My heart, felt at home.  Still not sure what it all meant, but I knew with every ounce of Jesus in me…this was it.  This was what my heart was seeking….missing.  My heart needed Jesus presented with Biblical truth, but with a love everyone, love always heartbeat.  That attitude that before someone can really hear about Jesus, you have to meet them where they are..not where you want them to be.  That inclusion that still holds true to Biblical truth, but with a love that oozes from the pores of those giving out the love. Most of all, my heart wanted a pulpit based on Jesus, but far removed from politics.  My heart was weary…it was tired…and it was growing bitter.  No denomination on the door….just the Gospel of Jesus and the doctrine according to Christ.

Now, let me go back to before…and during all of this…the election came.  What I haven’t brought back up today really is how during all of this…even now…I was/am struggling to my very core about the word Evangelical.  The election just highlighted that struggle in my life.  Things were said and done that were so far removed from what I believe Christ wants in us as people…towards our fellow man, my heart just reeled.  Triggers took place that brought up childhood incidents that I thought were long buried.  Then…in all of it…I saw Christian leaders I admired come to the defense…fall on the sword to defend…for what, to me, only seemed like  man desperate for the power that would come with a result.  So much was the polar opposite of what I had grown to believe over a lifetime as to what Christ expected of us as human beings…what he so called out for.  I grew increasingly confused, increasingly angry…increasingly counting down the days to Sunday morning or Wednesday night where I could be reminded….not all are falling on the sword….not all are telling me it’s my duty as a Christian to fall in line.  I saw people I care about deeply hurt by words so offensive that they had to be “bleeped” on national TV.  I saw entire groups of people called out in such hateful ways that I grew even more angry.  I’m one of the “Evangelicals” people are talking so poorly about…I’m a member of this group that is supporting such hateful words.  How can that be?  I don’t agree with any of these words.  I don’t agree with the agenda of Jesus as a political tool for power.  Maybe, I’m not an Evangelical.  Maybe, I’m not the label.

As I said earlier, I’ve blogged about this before, but today feels different.  Today feels certain.  Today, my heart is not burdened with the label.  Today, because of a church that fed my heart words of truth in hope and love….because of a horribly nasty election, because of a son in the arts, because I never felt my heart fit….I can say with a peace I don’t take the label anymore.  I don’t want it.  I want to love Jesus…and love others.  Please know, this is my journey and is certainly not directed towards anyone but myself.  With that said, I won’t lie.  I don’t get it.  I don’t get why more didn’t speak out in loud voices….why the seat on the Supreme Court was more important than speaking out against the words that hurt so many.  It sent such a mixed and hurtful message to a lost world watching our actions.  We have worked so hard to stand in Biblical truth….then when in front of a world audience…we stood silent.  At least it seemed that way by the words by leaders and people of influence.  I’ll never forget the day women such as Beth Moore spoke out so directly against sexual assault or the words that implied it.  I’ll also never forget when we came out in swarms to eat one of our own, Jen Hatmaker, when she spoke her views.  Those that counsel her spoke to her in private…why did so many of us take to social media to literally eat her alive….and discard all the good she had done for women, lost women…prior to a statement that use the word “Holy” when well..what I think of that is so complex, it’s a blog post on its own (I support and love those I know in that community and that’s all that needs to be said.)…but I’m not going to tar and feather a woman that has been such a light to so many women. No one forces us to buy books or attend conferences with any speaker….show our disagreement by no longer supporting the work…but attacking someone so ferociously on social media was heartbreaking to watch.  I’ll also never forget the words of Christine Caine on our role as Christians towards Syrian refugees.  I will also forever remember being reminded that God puts angels everywhere…and what if He has placed angels among those refugees…and the tears He must shed as we, as a nation. turn them away out of fear. What if God is sending us a nation to show the love of Christ to…and we shut the door from fear? A fear we are told not to hold in our heart. What good is our “pro-life” stance, if we turn away the least of these out of fear, how is one life more valuable than another?  Dr. Russell Moore, James McDonald (post advisory board), Bill Hybels, Steve Carter, so many female authors and speakers….literally I cannot, even now, get enough of their wisdom on Jesus…the Bible, on how to be more red letter….

I’m still angry, but less angry each day.  Those stages of grief seem to apply to almost every facet of change in our lives.  I have to think I’m more to the “sad” stage…..far less questioning of my personal “what label do I want, if any”….and more a question of trying to understand how I got here…and trying to understand where others are in their journey. Sad, because I don’t understand.  I want to….but right now, I don’t.  I sense less anger towards all of it today than even just 24 hours ago…certainly less than three months ago.

I’m processing Romans 15 these days….trying to grasp that when we were told to welcome, embrace…it wasn’t with conditions….it was certain.

I’m thinking of Matthew 5…when Christ gave his Sermon on the Mount.

I’m thinking of how incredibly heartbreaking it is that any life on this earth needs a hashtag to be heard or seen.

I wonder how many fellow “Evangelical” folks are out there that have been on this same journey I have been on….even before the ugliness of 2016.  I’ve seen more women than men based upon folks I follow.  Why is that?

Would I have gotten this far in this journey without the move…without the election?  It’s pointless to even try to say anything but, no.  What idols have I allowed to be covered with the weaponization of Jesus?  Who have I hurt by views formed from life in a bubble?  Non-Christians, fellow believers?  Are my words today possibly words another person can take as hurtful to maybe where they are in their journey?  Please know…this is my journey.  I’ve likely made far too much of it public over the past two years….but I want to be able to go back two years from now and say..ok…progress has been made.

God has blessed my beyond measure with girlfriends who know my heart and my struggles and love me anyways….just as I love them in return…even when we  may be on polar opposite spectrums on so many things.  My tribe has always loved me in spite of me.  Just as Jesus does…in spite of me…He still loves me.

I’m thankful for this season and the conviction and necessity to really work on what Kim stood for..who Kim is as a Christian.  Realizing one walk will never look like another walk.  Realizing it’s ok to question things….ok to step outside your bubble and jump in…to the coldest pool on earth…trusting there is a warm hand waiting.

My son, my gifted musician, has been more of a catalyst than he can ever know.  His circle, his footprint on the world, forced me more than almost anything else before the move to dig deep…question…consider the idea that maybe many of my beliefs/routines were more man made that Christ made.  I’m forever grateful for this influence.

In a way, I am now in the dryer after being in the washing machine for so long…and on high speed for that last several months….hopeful that maybe when I come out…a few less wrinkles in place and a clean heart ready for this new stage.

And for those reading thinking Kim has gone over the edge…nah…..can’t go over what you went over years ago!

 

 

 

 

Tune-Up…Things We Say

It’s so strange that I sit here typing with so much in my head and a clear understanding that I am not remotely qualified to write more than, “My name is Kim.” This silly blog that I started as a way to process life with a chronic disease has become at times, therapeutic.  In a way, a virtual journal that some folks read and occasionally like….but more so an outlet to express a day, a week, a month, a season.  Today, I sit here typing with the question swirling in my little pea size brain of….did I start this for me, for you, because I was led to by God?  Maybe, it’s a combination of the three. (This question likely to never be answered fully.)  The move to Chicagoland has forced me so far out of my little “comfort zone” and into a zone where I am forced to really take stock into things I had just taken from others and applied….people much wiser than me…so surely no need to question, doubt, research….verify.  And yet….that’s what I have found myself doing now for a few months…..what if, as I have said before…this was the entire reason I am here….that it has nothing to do with a job…a city….maybe it was the only way God could finally get my attention.  Maybe He had no choice but to pull me up from my roots….

One thing I have been exploring are things I have heard for so long….assuming they were God’s word…or at least a close interpretation of it.  Phrases we say….without a second thought as to if they really are Biblical…you know…those things “good Christians” say.

I think the first offender has to be “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Malarkey.  Yes He will, and yes He does.  What is even the point in turning to God if we can truly handle even the hardest of circumstances on our own?  Isn’t the whole point of us being in this broken world to have us see that our only hope..our only way to navigate is by trusting God…something so much bigger than our tiny little humanness?  Everything is more than we can handle…everything.  It’s only because of Christ that we are able to put one foot in front of the other…..That’s the entire premise of faith.

Isaiah 41:10 (The Message)

 “But you, Israel, are my servant.
    You’re Jacob, my first choice,
    descendants of my good friend Abraham.
I pulled you in from all over the world,
    called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
    I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

God never says, Oh Jacob….pull up your bootstraps and figure it out.  If we could handle it…why oh why would God have sent Christ to die on that cross at Calvary?  We can’t.  We didn’t. We never will be able to.

This next one has been swirling in my head a lot lately….maybe it’s all the political rhetoric floating around…maybe it’s being more connected to a health community where I know folks that are wonderful, Jesus loving folks…that well…struggle…whether it’s emotionally, physically or financially….struggle is a daily routine.  It’s the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves.” I see that, I hear that and all I can do is sit and go…nope.  That runs against the entire Gospel of Christ….Sally, well Sally is exactly where she is because she can’t help herself….well…what if Sally really can’t?  Sally, through  no fault of her own, has an illness that makes just walking outside her home a nightmare we can’t imagine?  It seems, to me, the attitude of self-reliance and self-righteousness just doesn’t match up with Matthew 16:24. My new thought process on this is God intended us to be a community…so that when one of us is not strong…weak…whatever the issue may be…we come alongside, with Christ as our captain….to hold that person or community up….and sometimes…that’s a very long gig…sometimes it’s not.

Matthew 16:24 (The Message)

 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

There are so many more things we say…I’ve said….because well…maybe it’s because I grew up with it and just assumed…maybe it was something I heard in a sermon one day….and I sit here and just type these words going, “Man….some of these things are just hurtful to others.”  I have a feeling this season for me might be a tad long…a season where I have a very long overdue tune-up.  Last night, in a message, the challenge of “Resolve” was issued…so, my “resolve” is that I’m checking my vocabulary…my phrases…and I am going to likely blog as I uncover more of things said…that well…sound all Christian…but aren’t…just man-made gibberish.

As I close for today…I just received a verse via a group text I am part of daily…I close with this:

2 Peter 3:17-18 (The Message)

“But you, friends, are well-warned.  Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off  your feet by these lawless and loose-talking teachers.  Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Glory to the Master, now and forever.  Yes!”

I’ll make a point to title these blogs (my chronicle of my tune-up) so if you want to skip…well..it’s easy.  I’ll start with “Tune-Up.”  Kimmielou signing off….up since 5AM…clearly time for more coffee.

PS-Farmers Almanac is predicting a doozy of a winter here….currently looking for anyone that needs a house sitter on a tropical beach from December-March.  (Insert fact…Kim doesn’t like winter…even mild winters.)

Evangelical-4.1

I’ll be honest.  This post has been in the three sentence phase for days.  I suppose one could say the word “Evangelical” was tagged to my name all those years ago when I was thirteen years old.  I was just a kid who had a pastor come share the steps to salvation and I said, sure.  (I can honestly say that I don’t think I had a clue what I had done until about the age of twenty-I can assure  you 17-20 did not show evidence of it.)  Even now, there are days I feel as if it’s all brand new and I’m just seeing things for the first time…maybe that’s a good thing.  I think it is.  That whole, “childlike faith.”  I most certainly don’t feel qualified to preach to another person about my righteousness…if anything I want to tell them about my brokenness, my pitiful attempt to work to be more like Christ each day…and all the days as I crawl into bed and go, “well, that didn’t go so well.”  My take on the whole Gospel, is the later is exactly what Christ intended me to do.  To show all of that and temper it with the hope of Christ and the knowing the tomb is empty, my debt is paid.  That whole, be a decent human being while you are here on Earth-spread the  news and make disciples of men, even if you fall down all the time-your trust is in Jesus and He has covered all of your inequities. (Trust me…that’s a very large blanket in my case!)

ChristToFollow

 

So, I’m at Evangelical-4.1.  This conversation that has played out in my head countless times over the past several months has forced me to just evaluate what that tag to my name really is and is it something I even desire to be tagged with.  (Ok, before you go getting all “oh my goodness, Kim is renouncing Christ”…I’m not, if anything I like to think of it as a reset on what this whole gig of being a Christ Follower is meant to be.)

We will have to get a little political in order for this conversation to make any sense.  Maybe even a little into the pulpit.  Be patient….I promise you will get to read the deepest thoughts of this little girl heart.  (You can skip this part, but I can’t promise the rest will make any sense whatsoever.)

I grew up as a SBC girl (Southern Baptist).  I cannot recall a time where the pulpit didn’t come out and say “Christian, vote this way.”  I grew up with all of the bells and whistles that came with the “Christian Right” movement.  The problem has always been, for me, I didn’t quiet agree with it’s mission. Trust me, if you live in the south….this conflict is a very big deal…or at least it was in my heart.  Just seemed less about Jesus and more about man’s desires. Then, God moved me out of the comforts of my SBC life and into a world where I am tossed into a conglomeration of believers of such varied backgrounds-forced to sit down and go ok..what’s the commonality amongst those in the church (hint-following Jesus, that personal relationship). Tossed into a congregation of folks that well…a lot just don’t look like me at all. Then came 2016.  Then came Evangelical being so much less than what it had meant to me.  Leaders of the faith coming out and saying the moral thing is to vote for an amoral person and stating the other candidate is the Devil.  To me,  Evangelical has seemingly become a political movement-a political agenda.  Now…back to the conversation.

Ok…so now you are at where I was for a while trying to grasp this whole Evangelical thing and if it even stood for where I was with Christ and what I felt Christ wanted from my life.  In our move, I wanted so desperatly to find what I had in church growing up in the south-I have been able to sit in some fabulous churches filled with amazing people.  I was focused on nothing less.  Four churches.  Three of which just missed something and while I wish I could quantify that with a statement of what…I can’t.  All I can say is that God didn’t want me there.  So, we are at church number four and it’s as if the lightbulbs have all gone off and God is saying…”Kim…this is part of the reason you are here.  You need to see through my eyes..not your own…not the world’s.”  “Kim, trust me.”

Kim is now in a large…I mean HUGE church.  Yet, each time I go, it feels smaller than even my smaller churches in my past did.  No, I would guess no one knows I am there right now as we haven’t plugged in yet.  With that said, I know God is there and I’m there and that’s all I need.  Even at the other three churches, except for one sermon at church A, it’s always been about Jesus and his commands, his agenda…never about a human agenda.  What my role is as a Christ Follower…how that is to play out in my life…and what that means to those around me and to those I’ve never met.  God knew I needed this and He sat me right down in the middle of it. All the talk of the southern Bible-Belt and well…Chicago-who knew!.

So, Evangelical-4.1 .  I suppose by now you are wondering what in the world I’m rambling about.  First, did you know in the entire world, only 4.1% of the population is Evangelical?  That means over 95% of folks aren’t.  Evangelicals comprise around 13% of the Christian population.  That means, 87% of Christians aren’t Evangelicals.  The U.S. has the largest population of Evangelicals.  A Pew study shows 28% of the U.S. is Evangelical.  That means 72% of the U.S population is not.  80ish% of the U.S. will identify as a Christian.  31% of the world identifies as Christian.  This all made me just stop and go..ok….80% of the U.S. identifies as Christian but only 28% identify as Evangelical.  Is it that the other groups don’t believe Christ is the Son of God, risen on the third day?  The one true King?  What is “Evangelical” in America?  Is it a “Jesus” movement or a movement with a political agenda?  Are those two mutually exclusive?  Should they be combined?  Biblically, what’s that answer.

Matthew 22:36-40: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

31% of the world identifies as Christian.  Even if you don’t just count those who identify as Evangelical, we are clearly the minority-just as the Bible said we would be. Across the world…Christians are being persecuted. Russia has now outlawed evangelizing outside of church-all of which the Bible foretold.Then you see stories where Nepal has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. Areas of the world where people, like you and me, have taken the part of “Go” and have gone. Not to spread the good news of politics or why this sin or that sin is greater than another…but to spread the good news of Jesus, His hope, His love and His desire for your life.  If you look at US numbers, if 80% identify as Christian, then why all this back and forth over liberal, conservative…when clearly we have more in common with Christ’s calling for us than anything else.  80% of us are on the same page with Christ-shouldn’t that be our focus?.

I’m sure by now some of the readers of this little blog are about to blow a gasket and will certainly send me private messages correcting my thoughts and certainly what’s to follow.  That’s ok.

I ramble on and on with all of this to get to the point of all of this.  I sat last night and just took in the Case for Christ and how His love never fails…How He is always there, He never leaves our side…and just kept thinking…”Man, I wish my friends who for whatever the reason have written off Christ, stopped attending church or my friends who are watching the words that “Christians” are saying that are anything but showing of Christ…I wish they could be here tonight.  I wish they could see what this whole Jesus thing is….and what it’s not.”  And then….with confirmation with that whole peace thing..I realized…this chick is taking off the  American “Evangelical” tag and putting on “Christ Follower.”  Answer, Follow, Go.  Evangelical isn’t a Biblical term..it’s manmade.  Christ Follower….that’s Jesus’ tag for me…and loved…so very loved and forgiven.

Matthew 16:24  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

I close with this….80% of the US identifies as Christian.  If true, we should all be on the same page…and that’s the page where we are told to answer, follow and go.  I know God has revealed to me that I have fallen way short on the Go part….and that I need to stop and view the world and its events through His eyes and not  my own. Change begins from the bottom up…while looking up.

Oh, I have political views…that’s for certain…and they likely aren’t the views of many of my followers (According to what I am certain is an accurate scientific quiz on Facebook, I don’t)..and that’s ok…because as I said…80% of us are on the same page with Jesus …and that means we all agree that Christ wins…we know the ending of this story….a broken world, with broken people all just working each day to be a little more like Christ and on most days…falling shorter than we had hoped as I crawled out of bed.  Knowing we all get the exact same amount of Christ-all of Him.  He doesn’t hold out pieces….you get all of Him. By grace and not by works.

One note of importance…none of this mitigates the love I have for every church I have attended in my life.  I have been fortunate to be in Bible believing, Bible teaching churches and surrounded by some of the most Godly men and women you could ever ask for.

So, peace out for today….this “Christ Follower” has some work to do!

(PS-I’m quiet certain this post could land me on some prayer lists….I assure you that I love my Jesus just as much today as yesterday, hopefully more and that if my life doesn’t represent what he told his disciples were his two greatest commands…well…I’ve fallen and I need to get back up and try again…and again..and again. )

 

 

 

Fighting With, Instead of Against

“I would rather have a man chasing Jesus, than a house full of stuff.”  War Room, Elizabeth

As very likely, one of the last person’s on the planet to do so, I saw War Room yesterday.  I had heard the hype, but honestly went in expecting what I had seen in other Christian movies as far as how it would be formatted. Yesterday, I realized that  Christian writers are getting bolder, directors more unafraid to appease every audience member….this movie was truth. It reached out and said, “You are going to come into this experience with the characters.”  Each of us, whether we realize it or not, are a character in this movie in our daily lives.  That’s what this movie leaves you with….you will identify with a character and see all of your holes and the thin fibers holding those holes together.  This is irregardless of where you are in your Christian walk.  I don’t see how you can see this movie and leave thinking, “I am all good.  I’m great actually.”

Miss Clara was the character I kept desiring in my own life.  I want a Miss Clara.  She’s that woman bold enough to confront you, bold enough to shake you at your core and humble enough to be transparent with her own life to change yours.  You can’t act the passion she exuded in the scenes where she cried out to God and to Christ to do great things, mighty things….where she gave Him every ounce of praise in her entire body.  The casting of this movie, in her character, got it right.  You believed her.  She was real.

Elizabeth’s character could be any of us.  That mom so caught up in her career, her own wants and ambitions and so full of bitterness and anger towards things, that she misses the entire point of our life.  I think my favorite two scenes with Elizabeth were when she received the text regarding her spouse being seen at dinner with someone other than herself….that moment of brokenness when she literally had no strength left in her and she fell to her knees….that moment each of us have experienced at least once in our lives…that  moment where you can physically feel Christ taking his hands to raise you into this embrace.  That moment that you do not think you will survive, but you do and come out stronger on the other side of the battle.  It’s that moment when you stop fighting against God, and start fighting with God.  For her, it was the moment she realized, as Tony’s wife, she was powerless to change him….and she had to admit and ask for forgiveness for her failures and give her spouse to God…totally let it go.  Not hold on to a single string. Everything-released.  “The world desperately needs grace-grace from each other but ultimately the grace which can only be received from Jesus Christ.” Miss Clara’s words and that simple question she had asked earlier, “Does he not deserve the same grace that Christ has given to you?” Great scene.  Next, it would have to be when Elizabeth saw Danielle’s closet.  That moment that every parent has when we realize our children repeat what we do…in magnified form.  Good or bad….we are their example.  It’s not our talk that they emulate, it’s our actions.  Elizabeth’s heart change towards her family, her husband…and that moment where she tells Satan to get out of her house.  A heart change….and her world changed for the better…even if painful at times.  Learning that her job was simply to pray for her husband…to stop doing God’s job and get out of God’s way so He could do His job.  How many times have I stood in God’s way?  When I did, what was the outcome?  When I moved over, what was the outcome?  If you are like me, when you move over…well, that’s when miracles happen.

Most heartbreaking moment for me was when Danielle told her mom that she thought she just loved her a little.  And then began asking those questions you can’t answer if you are not present….you can be physically there and not be present.  How many of us parents are so busy chasing a dollar, more stuff, more retirement that we miss what matters….the name of a child’s team, their award, their newest skill…..the little things that are the big things?  We call it “taking care of our family’s future” but at what cost?  If we miss the little things….do we even know the big things when they come?  Is that pursuit of career success coming at the expense of the family’s success?  God isn’t going to be handing out any “Top Sales Person” awards in heaven…but He is going to be holding us accountable for our family…what we did with that blessing He gave us.  How we loved.  How we knew Him.  Knowing Him in a real and passionate way, well….seems all our issues start to fall away.  Trusting Him, more than we trust our own control.

I won’t go into Tony, as I don’t want this to be about the faults of a man….but…His brokenness in that moment he realizes he has nothing left but Christ and his family….and that because of Elizabeth’s heart change, their reaction to his failures has been anything but what he expected.  Seeing what he gave up in his pursuit of career goals….greed.  I do not know the heart of any man….but I do know the heart of a woman.  That moment he just broke into Christ’s arms…..”I would rather have a man chasing Jesus…”  I bet if we asked men…they had rather have a woman chasing Jesus too.

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I could go on for days about this movie.  I guess, as  a Christian, it was more than a movie.  It was an instrument used by God to speak to me…and so many others.  I don’t have a War Room…and I honestly don’t know if I could sit in a small closet….but….I will take those notes on the wall to heart.  Specific things.  I will make me a record of “Answered Prayers” to remind me when I feel as if God isn’t hearing me.  I will remember the power of always praying for your spouse.  Not for them to act like you want or not do such and such…but praying for them to be God’s…to be His.  I will begin to ask God for a Miss Clara.  I have never asked, so why would I have a Miss Clara?  I will continue to pray for my kiddos, their spouses, my babies….their safety, their hopes and dreams, their hearts….their love for Jesus.

Points taken from the movie (just a few) that everyone should commit to heart:

  1. Daughters find their value in their Fathers (earthly and Heavenly)-As Tony began to see and invest in his daughter, her confidence increased.
  2. Marriage is based on Christ-not us.  “I am His before I am yours. And because I love Jesus, I’m staying right here.” Elizabeth
  3. “I shouldn’t fight God, because He always wins.” Miss Clara
  4.  “If you want victory, you must first surrender” Miss Clara
  5. “People are always leaving Jesus out of everything and that’s why we are in the mess that we are in.”  Miss Clara
  6. Your spouse is not your enemy.  Don’t make them to be the enemy.  The Devil is the enemy that comes to steal, kill and destroy.
  7. The lingering regret that never leaves when you don’t answer God’s call.
  8. Not once, even if the mud of bitterness, did Elizabeth talk poorly of her spouse to her child.  Not once.

Like so many others, I sit here today with a movie in my head…and Jesus in my heart.  A heart that will strive to be a Miss Clara as it ages and grows.

We, as Christians, get so caught up in the social fights around us…when in the end…if we keep our hearts on Jesus….everything will be ok.  He wins.  The devil knows the end of the story too….Jesus wins.