Twin Pillars: A Tribute to my Parents, and an Open Letter to Young Parents Today

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
– Mother Teresa


“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior,
are the children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
Psalm 127:4, 5a

To the warriors that double as parents,

I’m writing this to you.


I want you to know that you are seen.
I want you to know that you are loved.
I want you to know that you are celebrated. 


In the midst of a world crowded with violence, injustice, and suffering, I am daily in awe of the immensity your courage. I am unable to fully comprehend the bravery it requires to raise your babies to find peace in the chaos, especially on the days it’s hard to even find it for yourself.

Yet, I am a product of it.

My life is a tribute to yours.


I’m writing to encourage you – to tell you now what your babies don’t yet have the words to express – what they may not even recognize.


I am currently twenty-three and am the second oldest of six girls. I have been living largely on my own for nearly three years now, in a village several hours southeast from the cozy hobby farm I grew up on in Northern New York. I’m constantly complimented by peers and adults alike on things such as my integrity, my work ethic, and my confidence. But regardless of what the compliment is, the undertone of all of them is the same: an acknowledgement – albeit a small one – of the years my parents spent directly investing and pouring into me. I am their living, breathing, opinionated legacy.

Your kids may not yet recognize what a gift you are. In fact, they probably don’t, because so much of what they know as normal is established based on what you’ve built. And thus, everyday, I reap a harvest of blessings from choices that were sown and carefully cultivated years ago by my parents – choices I had nothing to do with. Growing up, stability was my normal. Having two parents that genuinely loved each other and continued to choose each other regardless of circumstances is what I grew up knowing as status quo. Do you realize what a miracle that is? My parents are world builders and shapers.

It wasn’t until I was in at least eighth grade that I started to notice that when my school hosted an event, not everyone’s dad and mom was in the audience alongside mine. So apparently not everyone’s parents made it a priority to attend all of their events? I was legitimately confused. I was nothing short of awesome – I thought – or perhaps my parents’ enthusiastic involvement had inadvertently led me to believe – so it only made sense to me that my parents would want to come to any event I was a part of. Suddenly, their attendance to my events appeared to have nothing to do with my inherent awesomeness, and everything to do with their priorities. (Because, as we all secretly discover as we grow up, listening to two hours of forth and fifth graders bust out varied renditions of three blind mice is actually not that enjoyable. Who’d have thought?)

I don’t want you to read this letter and become discouraged, thinking that it’s impossible to reach the precedent set by my parents. Because in that case, you’re missing the point entirely. My parents were not perfect – no one is. There were instances where they acted rashly or disciplined without proper context. However, the Bible says, “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8.) Thus, all of moments in which my parents acted less than perfectly were ultimately drowned out by the roar of love.

And, in spite of all of their imperfections, I have never – ever – for a second of my entire existence, doubted whether or not I was loved. When I was small, love looked a lot like my parents going to all of my events, doing my laundry for me, or picking me up after school. Now love looks more like a phone call or a package.

So, if you receive nothing else from this letter, please receive this: if your children know that they are first and foremost loved – beyond reason and merit – it will protect them better than any academic lecture they will ever hear, and will give them a tangible picture of how God loves them in a way nothing else can.

My parents love me more than they love themselves. Their prayer for me is that I will outdo them in every capacity – not to live vicariously through me, but because they love me and want me to succeed, even if it doesn’t look conventional. My mom even once confessed to me that she regularly prays that all of her children will go farther in faith than she ever did, equipped by standing on her spiritual shoulders. Friends, that’s a good mom. I’ve already started praying the same over my future children.

“Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
– Andy Stanley

My parents are the first people who introduced me to Jesus – as well as the first people I saw live out their faith. This perhaps says more of them than anything I’ve written previously. I’ve heard many stories of people who are disenfranchised with church and Christianity because while their parents went to church on Sunday, it didn’t affect their day to day life, and they were wounded by their parents’ hypocrisy. Witnessing my parents’ individual and corporate faith had the opposite effect. My parents demonstrated daily that a relationship with Jesus is something to be desired, and that following Him is much more about action than head knowledge.

My parents recognized that raising a family is a ministry, and they invested in it accordingly. Most of the blessings I’ve reaped from their choices are grounded in their faith. My rolodex of childhood memories is filled with snapshots of my parents in the Word: my father at the kitchen table before he left for work, my mother at her favorite corner on the couch, a corner affectionately nicknamed her perch. Every night, I was tucked in under my comforter and a blanket of my mother’s prayer.

My parents were also not afraid of different denominations, because to them, furthering the gospel was central. This often contrasted them against the other church going parents I knew. My upbringing was very ecumenical. While I have traditionally Mennonite roots, I was involved in AWANA at a Baptist church, I attended my first youth group at a Pentecostal church, and I helped with VBS at a Presbyterian church.

It was easy to receive the sort of my faith my parents demonstrated because my parents never asked us to walk a path that was untouched by the imprint of their footprints. My parents understood what James meant when he penned the divisive words: “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18.) As aforementioned, I grew up on a hobby farm, and I was one of six girls – both things which lend themselves to lots of chores. So at an early age, I was expected to make my contribution around the house, but I was never expected to work alone. My parents worked alongside me (and perhaps, sometimes, in spite of me.) This fostered a genuine respect between my parents and I that continues to this day.

Though I don’t yet have children of my own, I’ve spent enough time with children and young parents to know that parenting is not easy. In Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton describes a day in the life of a mother this way:

How was my day? It was a lifetime. It was the best of times and the worst of times. I was both lonely and never alone. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed. I was saturated with touch — desperate to get the baby off me and the second I put her down I yearned to smell her sweet skin again. This day required more than I’m physically and emotionally capable of, while requiring nothing from my brain. I had thoughts today, ideas, real things to say and no one to hear them. 

I felt manic all day, alternating between love and fury. At least once an hour I looked at their faces and thought I might not survive the tenderness of my love for them. The next moment I was furious. I felt like a dormant volcano, steady on the outside but ready to explode and spew hot lava at any moment. And then I noticed that Amma’s face doesn’t fit into her onesie anymore, and I started to panic at the reminder that this will be over soon, that it’s fleeting — that this hardest part of my life is supposed to be the best time of my life. That this brutal time is also the most beautiful time. Am I enjoying it enough?Am I missing the best time of my life? Am I too tired to be properly in love? That fear and shame felt like adding a heavy, itchy layer on top of all of the hard.

But I’m not complaining so please don’t try to fix it. I wouldn’t have my day or my life any other way. I’m just saying – it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain – an entire day with lots of babies. It’s far too much and not even close to enough. 

Parenting – raising tiny humans – is hard. But I beg you – I entreat you – to keep doing the hard thing. Don’t get so bogged down with the mire of dirty laundry and stickiness and  mayhem that defines your daily experience that you lose sight of the worthiness of your task.


I am the product of two people who didn’t.


Even as I conclude this letter, everything I’ve said about my parents still seems like a trite introduction. I’ve barely scratched the surface. The English language has failed me in paying proper attribution to the twin pillars I call mom and dad. It is both far too much and not even close enough.

Please know that you’re not alone in this hard thing, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. All of us are just muddling through as best as we can. There are no perfect lives, just as there are no perfect people. There is only the imperfection that is still worth embracing. Find your tribe and do life with them. My parents did, and modeled that for me. Community is a vital thing. I cannot overstate this enough. It is the life blood of any successful undertaking – or in this case, upbringing.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.”
– Frederick Douglass

And so I encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. Because while you might not feel like you’re changing the world, you may be raising the children that will. All revolutionaries started as children.

As my parents always said, it starts at home. 

Much love and prayer,

Amy J

 

 

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Everyday Joy

“To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
but life without meaning is the torture of restlessness and vague desire –
it is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.”
– Edgar Lee Masters

Recently, I’ve been feeling very restless with the monotony prevalent in my life. I’m tired. I’m tired of the day to day, mundane routine that my schedule has sorted itself into. I’m tired of being in college. I’m tired of being broke consistently. I’m ready to be onto the next stage of my life, doing ‘bigger’ and ‘more important’ things. I’m ready to step into adulthood.

However.

I’m wary of slipping into a “destination addiction” of sorts. I’m wary of idolizing the idea that true happiness, true joy is just around the next bend in the road. Because the fact of the matter remains that if I’m not content in the here and now, then I won’t be content in the there and then. Period. Mic drop. That is a fact.

You know why? Because contentment is not rooted in surrounding circumstances. It is rooted in Christ. And I have Christ now. So what else am I looking for? What else could I possibly need?

As long as I’m looking for contentment elsewhere, I’m setting myself up for inevitable and continual disappointment. My circumstances should not have the power to dictate my joy. The gospel should be enough to bring me to my knees in worship, adoration, and humility every day. As Dan Mohler says so succinctly in his sermon entitled “Becoming Love,” we don’t really understand the gospel. We have too many issues. We have too many rights.

We ought to have Jesus. 

“Each day presents a new opportunity to experience God…this is a sacred expectation!”
– A.W. Tozer

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1ab)

I’ve been struggling with insomnia for over a semester now. I haven’t been having issues falling asleep, but rather staying asleep. Every night almost without fail for the last several months, I have woken up at some point between one and four in the morning, and am typically unable to get back to sleep for a minimum of two hours. I had 8ams everyday of the week except Wednesday last semester. On Wednesday, I worked at 7am.

Needless to say, I quickly got very tired of this (pun entirely intended.) I require quite a bit of sleep, and don’t always function the best without it. Finally, in a rage (and as a last resort – perhaps right there is the problem), I prayed about it. (Well, more accurately, I whined to God about it in the semblance of prayer.)

God, I’m sick of this. I don’t understand why you’re doing this to me. It’s unfair. I’m tired. I’m in school and working. I don’t have the stamina to be losing 2+ hours of sleep every night. 

I know. Not my proudest moment. Looking back on it now, I can practically hear God gently smirking at me.

Be careful of the questions that you ask God. Because He just might answer you.

My precious child, those are hours you could be spending with Me. 

Ouch.

Who am I to demand anything of God? He owes me nothing. (See Job 40.) And thankfully, He is not willing to let me stay in the place of terrible arrogance where I presume that He does. He loves me far too much for that. He loves me too much to leave me in a place of complacency and pride.

God doesn’t want me to only understand enough of the gospel to save my soul. He wants me to understand the gospel to the point that my life is transformed by it. 

cardboard-testimony

To say it another way, (a more theological way), Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to save me for my eternity future (heaven.) He saved me for my present (earthly life.) He saved me for the now.

Wow.

God literally loves me enough to allow me to struggle with insomnia. He loves me enough to allow me to experience grief through the death of my sister and brother. He loves me enough to allow me to fight depression. He loves me enough to not always allow things to work to my advantage or how I expected them to work out. He loves me enough to allow me to find value in the menial monotony of life. He loves me enough to be faithful when I am faithless, because He cannot deny Himself.

He  l o v e s  me.

“When hardship comes your way, will you tell yourself it’s a tool of God’s grace and a sign of His love, or will you give into doubting His goodness?
Here’s the bottom line. Right here, right now, God isn’t so much working to deliver you to your personal definition of happiness. He’s not committed to give you a predictable schedule, happy relationships, or comfortable surroundings. He hasn’t promised you a successful career, a nice place to live, and a community of people who appreciate you. What He has promised you is Himself, and what He brings to you is the zeal of His transforming grace. No, He’s not first working on your happiness; He’s committed to your holiness. That doesn’t mean He is offering you less than you’ve hoped for, but much, much more. In grace, He is intent on delivering you from your greatest, deepest, and most long-term problem: sin. He offers you gifts of grace that transcend the moment, that literally are of eternal value. He has not unleashed His power in your life only to deliver to you things that quickly pass away and that have no capacity at all to satisfy your heart.”
– Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies

“The great paradox of the Gospel is that God’s love drove Him to do the unthinkable: become naked and exposed for those who rejected Him. We, who exposed ourselves through disobedience, are “covered” by the nakedness of Christ’s obedience.”
– Pastor Joshua Stewart

To get that – to truly understand the gospel – is to be transformed. There is a paradigm shift in your thinking. To know Jesus is to be changed by Him. (See James 2:14-17). Loved people love people. Forgiven people forgive. People who know mercy show mercy. There is no other way. It is a simple rule of logic.

“The gospel is such a revealing of man’s value. It’s not a revealing of man’s sin – it’s a removing of man’s sin. The cross removes man’s sin, it doesn’t expose man’s sin. It removes man’s sin to expose his value and his created purpose.

The cross brings destiny back into the picture – you can write legacy again.

YAY.

I don’t have to be disheartened. I don’t have to let life speak louder than truth.”
– Dan Mohler, Becoming Love

Oftentimes, we fixate on the last three years of Jesus’ life: His “ministry” years. Um. What about the other thirty? His whole life was a ministry. His existence in the flesh was an act of grace. You cannot properly appreciate His “ministry” years without acknowledging that it was those thirty years – those years that we know so little about, those years of silence – that equipped Him for the years we do know about and spend a lifetime studying. Those menial years full of monotony, those years of practicing obedience, prepared and enabled Him to act in continued obedience – even when the destination was the cross.

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.” (Philippians 1:29)

“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)

What a privilege it is to know and serve Christ. I am overwhelmed, humbled, and so thankful.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7a)

“‘Where is God?
Where can I find Him?’ We ask.
We don’t realize that that’s like a fish swimming frantically through the ocean
in search of the ocean.”
– Ted Dekker

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

img_0573

(If you click on the picture, it will bring you to the song “Ever Be” by Bethel Music. I have been saturating my mind with these truths recently, and wanted to share access to the song with you. This picture is taken at the Rock, a place we camp out at Beaver Camp, from a spot I’ve spent many quiet moments with God. Note the worship tree.)

 

For further encouragement, check out this sermon that was preached by my home church entitled “So Loved” by Pastor Joshua Stewart.

Kaleidoscopic Oceans

“To have been loved so deeply, even though the one who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”
– J.K. Rowling

How do I begin? By all accounts, today is just like any other day. It’s just another Saturday. There are no holidays dedicated to the third of December. There are no parades. It’s a day that can easily slip by, undetected and unannounced.

And for most people that’s exactly what happens. It slides by, unnoticed. It’s difficult not to envy those people.

December is always a hard month for me, but this year it is especially so. This year is the first year that December 11th falls on a Sunday since it did five years ago – the day police arrived on my doorstep with my sister’s license in hand and my worst fear was realized.

My sister was dead. And what was previously unimaginable was my new reality.

This year is the first year since my sister passed that each day leading up to December 11th falls on the exact same weekday it did prior to her death five years ago. And somehow, that makes everything feel closer.

I can’t help but remember the Amy of December 3, 2011. She was so innocent, and so young. The Amy of December 3, 2016 is much more than five years older than her.

How do I capture how deeply devastated I was on that day? How do I describe the journey since? Grief is a tricky thing to describe, as no two people who have encountered it have seen or experienced exactly the same thing. No two relationships are identical. No two people are identical. So no one grieves identically – even if the grief is over the same person. It’s terribly isolating.

Grief is a kaleidoscope. But rather than just being something that you look through, it is a monster that engulfs you. Sometimes it’s all you can see. Your perspective is entirely changed as you look at life through the fragments of colored glass. Things are distorted. Even the things you once knew and loved look completely different. And just when you feel like you’re beginning to make sense of the “new normal,” the floor is knocked out from underneath you. Everything spins. And when you’re finally able to right yourself and make sense of your surroundings again, the picture that you were starting to familiarize yourself with has changed. And so on and so forth. Eventually, it’s hard to be motivated to stand up again. Or bothering to familiarize yourself with the new picture within the kaleidoscope.

Of course, take my words with a grain of salt: I’ve been trapped within a revolving kaleidoscope for five years now, and I’m a little dizzy.

Grief is an ocean. Deep and mysterious. Some days, the tide is low. The ocean is calm. The sky is blue. All is peaceful. Other days, there’s a hurricane brewing. The tide is high. The ocean is no longer inviting, but dark and dangerous. It’s a place where you could easily drown if you don’t tread carefully.

It would be easy to lose my identity in my grief. After all, what is one person to an ocean? Nothing.

Fortunately I know the Creator of oceans. He also happens to know the number of each and every grain of sand in existence, tucked alongside of the knowledge of the number of hairs on my head.

I am so deeply known and loved.

And this – this is where my identity begins.

Nancy and I were so intrinsically linked – so much of who I was, or who I thought I was before she died was tied to her. She drew out the best in me, while still allowing me to be myself. She “got” me. She was my hero and best friend. She was the type of person who inspired those pithy sayings that all the rest of us peasants aspire to. The world lost a beautifully precious soul on the day she died. I grieve for those who never got to know her.

Ever since she passed, God has been steadily working at reestablishing the foundation of what forms my identity. Not because the things I identified myself with – such as being a good student or as a singer or actress – are inherently bad things, but rather because they are only good things when they are superseded by greater truth. My identity is not, and can never be rooted in what I do. It has to be rooted in what God has called me: Beloved. (Which is actually what the name Amy means.) I am loved – not because of what I do, but in spite of what I do. I am beautiful, because of the work that God has accomplished through the Gospel in my life, not through my own effort or strength. As C.S. Lewis so succinctly sums it up, “When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed, but increased.”

I have been given my own personal thorn in my flesh to serve as a constant personal reminder that His “grace is sufficient” for me (2 Corinthians 12:9). I have struggled with depression since Nancy died, and it has been a harrowing – and exceedingly humbling – experience, to put it mildly. It is likely something I will wrestle with for life. To be perfectly honest, if I laid the years of my life side by side, and had to rank them, 2016 would probably not be at the top of the list. Or even near the top of the list. It’s been a hard year for me personally, for a myriad of reasons. But even in the midst of this, in the midst of such an insanely difficult year, I am overwhelmed by God’s grace and favor towards me.

My depression, as dark and oppressive as it seems some days, does not have the power to snuff out hope. It does not have the power to diminish beauty. And it certainly does not have the power to lessen my God.

I write about it now, not because it defines me, but because I think that vulnerability and honesty are the antidote to prideful isolationism. As Sheila Walsh so beautifully says, “My brokenness is better bridge for people than my pretend wholeness ever was.” I am no longer ashamed that I struggle with depression, because I have realized that it is not something that defines or cheapens me. It is not who I am. I am not a depressed person; rather I am a person that struggles with depression. Maybe that all seems like rhetoric, but the difference in those two statements, when applied, is key. Depression is something that brings me closer to people, because it’s created a deeper empathy within me than I ever could have cultivated without it. It has made me slower to speak and quicker to listen. It has helped me to be less hasty in my judgements of others. Not to mention, I was loved before I struggled with it, and I am still loved now.

I have wrestled with depression more consistently this past year than I have previously. Not because my life is less beautiful than it has been previously – but perhaps because in some ways it has been more so. This year, I began seriously dating someone for the first time – and it has been a wonderful wonderful thing. It has not been perfect – far from it, as we are both flawed individuals – but it has been good. Experiencing this relationship has been living breathing proof in my life of God’s faithfulness and I am so thankful. I never imagined that such joy could be mine in communion with another person following Nancy’s death.

“I do not know a perfect person. I only know flawed people who are still worth loving.”
– John Green

That isn’t to say that it’s been easy. You see, I know exactly what I am risking to love another person so openly and vulnerably. I know what it means to lose. Grief is the price of love. But I refuse to allow the fear of loss to creep into my life and paralyze me from doing the best thing humans are capable of – which is to love.

I will not live a life void of love to protect myself. What kind of life is that? Worse than no life at all. I will love, and in 2016 I was given the chance to love in a new and profoundly deep way – a way I have never loved before. I have wept for what is at stake in loving so deeply, and for the fact that Nancy will never have the chance to meet him or vice versa – at least not on this side of heaven. But I rejoice in this gift, in this capacity to love and go on loving. No matter how distorted things look through the kaleidoscope or how deep the ocean seems, this is one thing that will not be distorted or drowned: love is worth it.

Thank you Nancy for teaching me that and modeling it for me. I am proud to say that legacy will not die with you.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”
1 John 4:11-12

A Climber’s Perspective on Faith

“A man does not climb a mountain without bringing some of it away with him and leaving something of himself upon it.”
-Martin Conway

I thoroughly enjoy rock climbing. Although when people ask me why, it is difficult for me to find the words to adequately explain what it is about it that I love so much. Because, at the end of the day, rock climbing is just as it sounds. You are literally climbing rock. Why is that so thrilling? I’m still not entirely sure, but I think it has more to do with the individuals who climb than it has to do with the rock itself.

Each rock climbing experience is as unique as the individual climbing. I think that’s what makes rock climbing such a distinctive sport. There’s this sense about it that everyone can do it if they want to badly enough. I’ll admit, the fact that you’re not inhibited by stature as you are in some sports is what initially drew me in, but it was the adrenaline that kept me. You can never truly plateau in your abilities because there’s always more to be learned and discovered. It engages your whole body, mentally and physically, and keeps you engaged throughout the entirety of a climb. I enjoy other sports, but the fact that you’re fully invested throughout the duration of a climb sets it apart from other sports. At a soccer game, for instance, there is only one soccer ball for two teams. You may find yourself waiting for the ball during lulls in the game. In climbing, you’re never left standing on a field waiting for the ball to come to you, you are the focal point of the game instead. You are the only player that matters. What you do will make or break the climb. There is of course the element of danger that comes with the sport, but I’ve found that nearly everything I love to do most incorporates some aspect of danger.

But the best part of all is that the rock is unforgiving. It is unyielding to you and your peevish desires for handholds or footholds where there are none. This results in a marriage of sorts between the person climbing and the climb on the rock itself – a dance inevitably ensues between the climber and that which is being climbed. The mountain always leads. However, though the steps are carefully dictated by the mountain, they are not necessarily performed the same way by those who follow the dance to the summit. There is of course technique to climbing, but it’s up to the climber’s discretion when and how to apply it. And a movement that one climber uses to pass the crux of a climb may not be possible for the climber who follows. And this is where the beauty that is rock climbing results. The same climb might be completed a hundred different ways. And there is something so lovely about the notion that the same journey can be travelled differently to the same destination. The rock itself doesn’t change, nor does the rating of difficulty on the Yosemite Decimal System. But when the person making the climb changes, the journey to completion changes with them.

I don’t understand why this same concept seems to be so difficult to grasp in the Christian realm. To me, it seems not only obvious, but inevitable that different people with different backgrounds and cultures are going to come to different conclusions as they read and study the Bible. Please don’t misunderstand me. There are some undeniable universal truths revealed in Scripture that every Christian needs to know and understand in order to be “able to give a reason for the hope that we have,” (1 Peter 3:15), such as the gospel and who Jesus Christ was and is to us. I’m not making this statement with to devalue proper Theology or hermeneutics or the faithful study of the Word. Both are necessary if we are to understand Who, why, and what we believe. I think that based on Scripture, people should conclude things in their own mind as to why they are (or are not) convicted to abide by certain standards in their life and/or make certain decisions. In fact, I think it’s an extremely necessary thing for Christians to do, or else we will become very unstable and infuriatingly indecisive. My point is this. Having a bigoted, unyielding, self-righteous attitude in regards to your convictions in the grey areas of Scripture does nothing more than make you a modern day Pharisee.

Commands and principles in Scripture are not one in the same. Neither are orthodoxy and methodology. Don’t equate these things as if they are. We are commanded to live as “wise as serpents and as innocently as doves” (Matthew 10:16), which paraphrased simply means God intends for us to live skillfully. Living skillfully means applying the principles found in God’s Word and applying them to those things which are not specifically addressed in the Bible. We are accountable for what we know. However, we must allow for diversity in how the principles translate into convictions and ultimately programs. I may be wrong, but I don’t think it was ever God’s intention for Christians to use their convictions to spank other Christians. “I’m right, and you’re wrong, so in the spirit of false humility I’m going approach you and bring you down so that I can be elevated.”

Did it ever occur to anyone else that perhaps, perhaps, this is one of Satan’s most effective tools in his arsenal? He’s already lost the battle for a Christian’s soul, but he can still try to make a Christian impotent on the world around them.

Hey whatever. You’re right. It is obviously more important that you spend your days attacking your Christian brother or sister and causing splintering devisions than it it for you to be a living example of Christ’s love to a world that desperately needs it. Does anyone else see how faulty this viewpoint is? Can I get an amen?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t confront your Christian brother or sister if you see a sin in their life that needs to be dealt with. Confrontation, for the right reasons and with the right motivation, is Biblical. Again, I’m talking strictly the grey areas of Scripture – such as how you choose to educate your children. Christians, I entreat you – please stop making mountains out of molehills. Please stop making the menial, temporary things your focal point and your hill to die on. Please stop writing all differences off as negative. If God wanted robots who shared the same mind and drew all the same conclusions, that’s what He would’ve created. As it is, that’s not what He wanted. You and I are living proof of that.

Though we all might by following the same climbing route to the same destination, different techniques will be employed to get there. And that’s more than okay. Embrace the journey, and appreciate the different ways in which people choose to make it.* Explore. Experience. Exist. Just don’t lose sight of Who you’re living for.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, because what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18

* In regards to salvation, there is only one way to be saved, and it does not vary from person to person. It cannot be earned. A person can be saved by faith alone in Christ alone (see Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23, 6:23,10:9-10; and John 3:16 for further reading on this topic.) This blog post was intended to specifically address those who have already accepted this free gift of salvation and are now figuring out what it means to live a Christian life i.e. a life to glorify God.