To the Dreamers

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To the dreamer’s

Wide-eyed believers

Hanging on to hope by a thread

To the soulful

Heart open hopeful

Keep on charging ahead

~ For King & Country

To the dreamers…. This is one of my favorite songs. All about conquering mountains and chasing dreams. The cool thing about this song is it’s written by two men that come from Australia. One of the men, Joel Smallbone, became a proud citizen of the United States this year. I love that this song is written by men from Australia and called To the Dreamers.

It seems like such a perfect song in light of the controversy surround DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The people of this action are called the dreamers. They are the ones dreaming of being citizens. Hoping to stay in the only home they’ve known. Scared to lose their place they’ve found in this life. Lose their friends. No longer have a home. They are your friends and your neighbors.

One friend of mine came to the United States from the Dominican Republic as a little girl. Excited to start life anew preparations were made for citizenship. Alas it was not to be. As a little girl, her opportunity for citizenship was stolen away by a money hungry lawyer that took off with all of the money needed. She was unable to get citizenship. Thankfully, later in life, she went on to marry an American man whom she loves dearly.

What if she hadn’t though? What if DACA was not available? In recent weeks politicians have been discussing repealing this action. If my friend, whom I adore, had not married a US citizen, her chances of remaining in this country would be in jeopardy. The chances of many could be in jeopardy. These dreamers could lose their hopes. Their dreams. Friends. Homes. Jobs. Lives.

Of course, we do not know what would happen. There are many in the US that do deserve the right to work. Many citizens who were raised here. However, we cannot, in good conscious, send these people who have possibly never had another home to a foreign land. These people could become our next great leaders.

Imagine. One day they could be like the many amazing people who came from all over the world to do great things here. Maybe some already are doing amazing things – doctors, nurses, lawyers, soldiers, or teachers. They could be like Joel (who would not have been affected by DACA but was a proud child immigrant to the US as well as his siblings) – an amazing singer of an amazing band who bring hope and life to many people. One who was proud to become a citizen of the US. A band that helps women find value in themselves. If you haven’t heard of DACA, I highly encourage you to do your own research and form your own opinions. Stay informed and keep up to date on political going ons so you can stand up for your fellow people.

 

 

The Nashville Controversy

ben-white-148794Sexuality – the most confounding, beautiful, and intricate, piece of mankind. Every year it seems to become less and less confounding, beautiful, and intricate. Instead it becomes sordid, animalistic, and controversial. The Nashville Statement  is the latest in the continual tale of human sexuality.

As a social worker for pregnant women, my calling revolves around human sexuality. Without problems in sexuality there would actually be no job for me. However, that would not bother me one bit because it would mean every child, man, and woman were loved, connected. Throughout the years of working with women on issues revolving around sexuality, I have discovered you need to be grounded on your own viewpoints.

For example, I have friends who are outspoken in their progressive viewpoints. They are some of my favorite people – their hearts are beautiful and desire to care for others. I may not agree with all of their perspective but I respect them. If I did not study my own viewpoints on sexuality I could very easily be swayed by the love and care shown to everyone. Through the years I have learned that progressive viewpoints tend to lead to extreme confusion.

If you are a Christian, you believe in a Creator. In Genesis it says:

“God created man and woman in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27

As a Christian who believes in a Creator someone chooses to believe that He has a design and plan for them. Within the Bible it says:

“For you formed my inward parts; You covered my mother’s in my womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” – Psalm 139:13-15

Articles 3-6 and Article 13 of the Nashville Statement address these issues. They state that  the individuals, as Christians, who signed this document believe what the Bible says. God formed us before birth and created our gender and sexual identity. It is a sacred and beautiful thing that we should embrace.

In today’s society, there is a belief that God created us to be whatever makes us happy. Transgender individuals do not feel comfortable with who God created them so they change their design. I have a lot of sympathy for this. Throughout my years as a social worker I have seen an increase in teenage girls who believe themselves to be boys. What I’ve also seen is that every girl I have worked with who believes this has been heavily sexually abused. Trafficked, prostituted, beaten, raped, and kidnapped. Much of identity is centered in our sexuality today.

Imagine if you had spent most of your life being abused by someone of the opposite gender. Would you want to be a girl then? The problem is instead of working through that trauma and teaching a man/woman to be empowered in their gender they are accepted as they are. We should allow ALL people to feel LOVED and accepted. That does not mean we allow them to continue on their current lifestyle. Would you tell someone with an anorexic that you accept them as an anorexic? Or do you love them and help them heal?

Articles 10 – 14 address LOVING people right where they are at. No matter where they are in their journey or where they’ve been. Every single one of us has some sin in our life. For many of us it is a struggle within our sexuality. However, Jesus covered all our sins. He seeks our hearts, wants to show us His plan and give us a life recovered from our pasts, our trauma, and sins.

“For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

God gave Himself for us to be free of pain, our past, and sin. However, that will not happen on this earth. There will ALWAYS be suffering here and God is to be our refuge. One of the things He has provided us to give a glimpse of His love and a sacred space for us is marriage here on earth.

“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:28-32

Christians who believe in a Creator believe that Christ created a roadmap for them. As people who follow the Bible, believers would accept that Christ CREATED marriage. It’s purpose sacred and wonderful. Articles 1-2 and 7-12 address this. The Nashville Statement is reiterating that God created marriage for a man and a woman. Created in their gender identities. Recognizing their sexuality was created to be between a man and a woman. Sex to be within a committed relationship before God.

This recognizes that a committed relationship before God cannot be done between Christians of the same sex. It is very hard because there are people who genuinely struggle with homosexuality from a very young age. They question why a God who established their identity would allow them to experience same sex attractions. As a social worker it is sometimes hard for me to understand.

One of my favorite couples I worked with was a homosexual couple. A lady was pregnant and watching her partner care for her was endearing. The partner knew every need before it even occurred. There appeared to be so much love and care. Imagine how well they knew each other simply because they were both designed female. They understood how each other’s brains work and that helped them know each other well. However, the Bible is very clear that marriage is between a man and woman. It also makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin.

“…the law is not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful,…for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality…and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” – 1 Timothy 1:9-11

The Bible states that sex is designed for the confines of marriage. Anything outside of that is wrong. Even so much as lust. God designed us to live a life of purity to Him. He gave us a plan for our lives and wants us to pursue Him. He created our sex, gender, and sexuality – complicated, beautiful, confounding, and God honoring. It can be hard to stay within those confines. If you are not a Christian, you do not have to subscribe to these beliefs. As a Christian who believes in the infallibility of the Bible, I choose to follow it’s path.

Following the path of the Bible is not always easy. But neither was it easy for Jesus to die on a cross. Jesus example also commanded that we LOVE everyone – just as He loved us. Enough to die for us. Enough to speak the truth in love. I personally believe the Nashville Statement is a great roadmap for modern day Christians in an age of sexuality confusion. If you are not a Christian, I can understand why you may be confused, angry, and disagree. That is alright to feel those things and know I still love you and love being friends with individuals of all viewpoints. If you are a Christian and struggling in the area of sexuality here are links to a few of my favorite resources on sexuality:

For women:

Christian Cosmo by Phylicia Masonheimer

Wait for Me by Rebecca St. James

Dirty Girls Ministries

Authentic Intimacy

For men:

Ransomed Heart

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

For both:

the Bible

 

All the Wrong Things

AlltheWrongThingsSometimes the right answer seems like the wrong one. The wrong answer seems the most appealing. Recently I’ve learned that there are areas of life where things are shaded gray. Some people say things are black and white – yes in certain areas – they are. However, with the nature of my job and life, I often find myself living in the gray.

Multiple options are presented that are equally good but not equally beneficial. “Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.” (1 Cor. 10:23-24 MSG) So when we are considering doing things – we need to consider the effects on others first and foremost.

In the last couple of weeks I was presented with two different career paths. Both were equally great and could be God honoring. One took me completely out of Christian ministry and into the very exciting world of public health and knowledge (if you don’t know me, I LOVE learning new things). The other kept me where I was – in ministry but building up the path for me to open my own non-profit. Let me tell you, they both have great appeal and it’s social work so that automatically means you get to “help others live well”. The verse from 1 Corinthians stuck out to me throughout this process because I recognize that in ministry I have always been blessed to have everything I needed – despite not going into the public sector and very few people being paid to do what I do. That helped me decide to stay within ministry. I knew that things would all work out.

That did not suddenly make life amazingly easy to make a decision though. It’s funny because they say that when you make decisions for God the devil attacks. In the song Center by Matthew West it says

It happens every single time I get close to

Everything I know is good and right and so true

It’s like somebody doesn’t want me to love You

And I must be onto something

The reality is when you make decisions for God – the devil pushes back. He knows you too. Just like God knows you, the devil knows you. He will attack the places that are your weaknesses. The devil can even appear as a great decision or idea. “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14 ESV) I can tell you almost immediately after that decision the devil started throwing more decisions into my life.

The reality is the devil knows how to tempt you. When he cannot dissuade you from a decision, he can throw things into your life that you maybe thought you wanted or give you opportunities to go down paths personally that affect who you are. One of the things I learned throughout all of this is even working hard to be close to Jesus we will still want to do all the wrong things. Branan Murphy says in his song All the Wrong Things:

Maybe I’m not in control

Playing with fire, it’s taking me over

I light the fuse and I’m watching where it goes

I wish you would stop me

This feels too good for it to be wrong

I’m just trying to follow my heart

This whole song pretty much embodies what happens when you do try to follow Jesus. It doesn’t suddenly become magical. You have to work hard. There are people you may have to leave behind or limit time with or places that no longer become your local haunts. Boundaries may have to be set into your life. Ones that allow you to witness to others but not compromise what Jesus would have you do.

The reality is the more you seek Jesus, the more you may be tempted. The good news is “God will not tempt you beyond what you can handle” (1 Cor. 10:13). What you do is draw closer to God. If an offer seems good but it’s the start of a flicker down the wrong path, turn it down. Brannan’s song describes so well what happens when you start the spark. The simple thing you thought you were doing becomes bigger and bigger until it’s no longer innocent or even in the gray area. It draws a wedge between you and God.

Then you have to journey your way back to even find the spot you were in before. Be careful of the decisions you make. You never know where they may lead. I am grateful for the first decision I made but as I am finding, it can be very tempting to think choosing a good decision does not mean you will continue that or have a suddenly great life. To those facing temptation or decision, I encourage you to look to Jesus and also what is surrounding you.

“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best not the worst; the beautiful – not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Phil. 4:8-9 MSG