On David and Bathsheba

faith, god, lessons, sin

We talked about David and Bathsheba yesterday with 5th and 6th grade…

…no, I don’t have a death wish.

When I heard this story growing up, I don’t think I got it. I think it was honestly told to me as a warning against sexual sin.

But to focus on the sin itself–whether we talk about the adultery, the murder, the lying–that misses the point completely.

And, as always, a sixth grader pointed it out to me.

When David confesses and repents in the 51st Psalm, he says, “You would be just to punish me.” He knows he deserves everything to be taken away from him-after all, it was God who gave it to him.

David also says, “You don’t desire a simple burnt offering as my sacrifice. What you desire is my heart and spirit to be broken for you–you will never turn that away.”

David knows that, although God could punish him and no one could call him unjust, that God can’t turn away a repentant heart. It is outside of his nature.

Sounds pretty simple, eh? God just requires our heart.

But it sounds freaking scary and outside of our nature.

It is really risky to be vulnerable with God.

It is scary to open our hearts up to anybody, but for some reason, it’s even scarier with the one who made our heart in his own image.

We have this tendency to smooth over our actions and admit they never happened. We move on with our life, and if we feel especially bad, do some sort of “penance” to pay for that sin–say something extra-kind, give extra in the offering plate, make sure we attend church that Sunday, pray more.

But God doesn’t want us to do more. He wants us more.

It’s like we’re back in the Garden of Eden, afraid to be vulnerable with God and let him see the “dirty parts” of us, and so we cover ourselves with fig leaves, thinking he won’t notice.

Because bearing our naked soul is scary.

God is Able

christ, faith, faithfulness, god, identity, jesus, prayer, theology

Saturday I had the blessing of spending a few hours with my teenager sister while she copped my WiFi.  We watched a Mythbusters episode together, where they proved it is scientifically impossible to be buried alive and escape.

This was comforting.

Why? Because that means no Zombie apocalypse. Unless it’s Walking Dead style.

Why else? Because it exemplifies what Christ did.

Now, I know that his grave is way different from our graves…I get that.  But for a while (and don’t cry “heretic” out to me) I forgot how magnificent it is that Christ rose from the dead.

Not only that he rose from the dead, but that he rose others from the dead.  He healed the sick, the  handicapped, and the diseased. He gave hope to the hopeless and changed ridiculously lost people into the examples by which we lead our Christian walks by.


For a while…and I hate to admit it…I forgot two central truths:

God can do anything.

God can save anyone.

For a while, I wasn’t sure of this; at least, I wouldn’t have admitted it out loud. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t sure of this.  It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized that I wasn’t operating my life based off of these truths.  And when you’re not walking, you stop talking.

You see, these truths radically change the way that you live.  It means that nobody is too far of a reach to pray for.  It means that you don’t just complain about people, but pray for a change of heart in them.  And speaking of prayer, it radically changes your prayer life.  Prayer isn’t just a time of asking, but a time of believing that it can actually be done.


At one time, these truths provided me hope and comfort…..and I want to cling to them again.  Because, if God can move mountains, then God can save my family from drug addiction.  And if Christ can raise from the grave (which I watched on Mythbusters yesterday is scientifically impossible) then Christ can raise up my teenagers from their sin. If God can lead adulterers and bigots and prostitutes and cheaters and hypocrites to him and use them as leaders, why could God not lead certain people in my life to salvation?

God can do it.

I know he can.

And as soon as I realized this in the least bit, I saw it happen in a huge way. I really did.  God is working in the lives of the people I didn’t think he can save, and he is slowly moving them away from their addictions to sin.  Can I get a stinking Hallelujah?

God is able.

I never again want to get in that dark place of not believing that.

Confessions of a Lazy Christian

christianity, faith, leadership, youth ministry

I have fallen.

I admit it.

I have inherited the apathy of my culture.

I’ve been lazy.


I suppose it has happened over time. It’s generally not something that happens overnight.

I think Bible college has something to do with it.

So does my called profession.


I got lazy somewhere along the way: confusing exegeting for a Sunday morning with my personal quiet time; mixing up praying with students and praying for students; leading people to God and letting God lead me to Him.


I know we all get to this point…so I am encouraged.

I’ve known this for a very long time, I’ve acknowledged it; I have even prayed for forgiveness countless times and “vowed” this would be the last time.


It wasn’t.

It won’t be.


I’m so thankful for a God who does not see my deeds, but my heart. My heart does yearn for him, but I have been lazy with it.


When I got serious about my relationship with God, it was for my calling to ministry. But now that I’m out of college and out of teaching three times a week at a church, I need to rediscover a relationship with God outside of ministry.

I’m pretty sure Martha Stewart takes time to cook outside of her shows, and I’m pretty sure that P. Diddy raps even when not in rehearsal, and I’m pretty sure that Jeff Gordon races his car down the highway (who doesn’t?).

So I’m pretty sure that God, who I love more than Martha loves cooking, is worth time outside of ministry.

I need to relearn what that looks like.


I decided that next year, I am going to go through the book “Celebration of Discipline” and concentrate on a new discipline every month, slowly re-incorporating them into my every day life. January: Meditation.  I will re-figure this out.


No, I don’t think I’m in spiritual danger.

Yes, I want a deeper relationship with God.

No, I’m not taking a hiatus from ministry.

Yes, I will study the Bible outside of when I have to teach it.


I encourage you to take this journey with me.

Don’t just "understand" the other side, EMPATHIZE.

america, Blogs about Heather, christianity, church, faith, freedom, leadership, lgbtq, love, sin, social activism, theology, unchurched
I have half a dozen or so documents in my laptop right now of “potential blogposts” of different rants and ramblings about politics; from Chick-Fil-A to the ability for a Christian to vote different political parties to my stance on gay marriage, I have been wanting to speak out for a while now.  But I have held back.  Why?  Because there are others who can say it better.  Because I’m no expert.  Because I’m still learning.

That is what I want to emphasize today in my all-encompassing post on politics, ethics, and anything else that seems to matter these days.  I am extremely irritated with the election, as both “sides” of the United States are exposing their dirty ignorance and disregard for people who do not agree with them.  It is this mentality of, “If a person does not agree with my political stance, which is the only way, then their entire character must be attacked publicly.”  One day I posted on Facebook, “I think it says a lot about President Obama’s character for him to visit Joplin a year after the tornado came through.”  I wasn’t making a political statement, just a statement of appreciation for the remembrance of a small town near me that had been devastated by a storm.  One parent of one of my youth wrote, “I think we should all worry about Heather’s character.”  Then a full-fledged debate began on my status about gay marriage, Obama being a dirty Muslim from Kenya, etc.  One of my friends wrote, “Shame on all of you.  This status wasn’t about any of that.”  And it wasn’t, but to many Christian brothers and sisters that I respect, a politician that they don’t agree with can’t have any redeeming qualities.

I think it’s extremely dangerous to claim to hold absolute knowledge of any subject.  I’m sure some of you are shocked, as I am a Christian and you probably are too; how can I say that I don’t know undoubtedly that God exists?  Simply, if I knew it wouldn’t be called faith.  I know it in my heart, but empirically I do not know that.  I’m not a skeptic, and I’m not saying that if I don’t know things, that I can’t express my opinions on them; in fact my faith in God precedes all other faiths I have and consequentially demands me to express that faith.  The point I’m trying to make is:  It is extremely important to be empathetic to opinions that differ from your own, for you do not know your opinions to be fact.  In fact, it becomes dangerous when you claim to know it all and aren’t empathetic.

Why?  Because once you claim to hold the key to knowledge on a particular subject, you get arrogant.  You push people away from you with your words and your attitude.  For example:  Those Christians who are outspoken about gay marriage push people who agree with it away; it scars the LGBTQQ community and its allies and pushes people away from the Christ who ate meals with prostitutes, tax collectors, and the self-righteous.  Christians (and everyone else) definitely have the right to discuss their opinions and alleged knowledge on a subject; but if we aren’t empathetic of the other side, we can and will push them away.  I took some time trying to understand the LGBTQQ community a few years ago when a group came to my conservative Christian university to speak out against our allegedly persecuting contract that we had to sign in order to be a student there.  Instead of pushing my doctrine, I took the time to listen; a time of learning and growth.  Once I heard the stories of how they’ve been treated by people inside the Church, I began to understand that it’s not necessarily my place to indoctrinate a homosexual upon meeting them (and that’s just the beginning of that journey).  It went without being said what I believed.  I spent time trying to be empathetic, not with the sole goal of strengthening my argument, but because there were things on the other side of the debate that I never even considered.  And my opinion, although not perfected today, has come a long way.

I think this is also apparent in the Neo-Calvinist movement within the SBC, trying to take it back to its supposed Calvinistic roots and forcing churches to adhere to them and teach them as if it’s an essential truth in order to believe in God.  Every time I found out someone that I knew was a Calvinist, I would judge them.  I am currently very sympathetic to Calvinism, but took a long time telling anybody; I was fearful that I would be labeled as an arrogant, close-minded reformer like many of the Neo-Calvinist leaders are looked at. Also, I’m not 100% sure on any of it.  I once thought I was when I was anti-Calvinist, and then I read scriptures and listened to people and changed my mind.  I might change my mind again.  But more importantly, why is it necessary to be sure on this topic?  It cheapens God’s sovereignty in my claim that I am all-knowing on any subject.  When we become face-to-face before God, we’re going to learn that a lot of our political, ethical, and even religious beliefs were wrong (I honestly can’t wait for God to go, “Heather, remember how you were so arrogant about __? Well, you were wrong, and there’s grace for you because I was more important to you than even that.”).

This goes beyond politics and quarrels within the Church.  This comes to our everyday life.  It is well-heard, “Before you judge someone, walk in their shoes.”  I think it’s dangerous to form an opinion, and especially to claim knowledge of a subject, without hearing all sides.  More than hearing them, but understanding them (taking their place and walking in their shoes).  Understanding a side different than yours takes more than reading a few books or listening to a few podcasts.  It takes learning from people, talking with people.  This should be especially true within the church.  We are to be in community with one another, and it strongly discredits Christ’s love for the Church when we break off communion with one another on topics that we haven’t taken the time to understand.  Maybe that person is a Calvinist because they don’t believe they could have found God without Him choosing them.  Maybe that woman hates hymns because she didn’t make it past 8th grade and has a small vocabulary.  Maybe that man isn’t a fan of small groups because his last one gossiped the entire time.  Maybe that man doesn’t come to church on Sundays because the only job he can find works those days.  Maybe that woman is pro-choice because her sister could have died in a pregnancy.  Maybe that Christian man is a Democrat because the fight against social injustice overrides the need to ban gay marriage.  Maybe that lady is for gay marriage because she separates legal marriage from covenant relationships.  Instead of judging people, understand them.  You don’t have to agree, but you don’t even need to tell them that either (with proper discourse, that will naturally come in a non-pushy way).  You just need to see people the way Jesus sees them: broken, fallen, and beautiful.  Christ sees you that way too.  You are just as much His bride as the rest of the Church; in fact, you are His bride together and that entails the need for empathy.  And at the end of the day, if you still disagree with them, that doesn’t mean their entire character should be shattered, especially if they are a follower of Christ; if you agree on the essential truths of salvation, then you are still a part of the Church and should edify one another.

Occasionally, you are going to run into a person who says while debating with you, “I’m listening to you, but I’ve heard this all before.  I’ve thought through this topic and have my opinion.”  This translates, “I’m listening to your comments, but I already know all there is to know on the subject and there is no new information you can give me.  There is no point in debating me, because I won’t change my mind but will debunk all your arguments in the most mocking way I can.”  THIS. IS. DANGEROUS.  I can’t tell you how much I have thought through, prayed through, and talked through different topics.  I may have strong opinions on subjects, but the day I claim to have it all together: please take me out of the local church before I infect people with my arrogant ignorance. Can you tell I am hurting right now?  Yes.  Because I used to be the person who was arrogant to think that they knew it all and only struck up debates to be the smart conqueror of them.  Because right now, people are discrediting me for being provocative in thinking and trying to be the “Devil’s Advocate” and understand both sides of issues.  But primarily because in a world where we have tragedies such as mass murders, children starving, public shootings, and great moments of glory like the young people beast-moding the Olympics; we are more concerned about our disagreement with a single politician or company that supports an ethic stance that differs from ours than for understanding our brothers and sisters.

ps, as I finish this post, I’m like “what do I even name this?!” hah.

A “No Pain, No Gain” Theology

Blogs about Heather, christianity, depression, faith, faithfulness, testimony

I read my sister’s journal.  I don’t even feel bad about it.  She spent part of Christmas break at my apartment, and she left her journal behind.  Now I know from experience that if you truly don’t want someone reading your journal, you protect it with your life.  Not only did the girl not have a lock on it, but she left it chilling on my dining room table.  The girl was calling out for me to read it.
My family has been going through some interesting things lately.  My parents have both separately failed to provide and it has left them individually homeless.  My mother is living at a hotel and my father at his mother’s house.  My sister is left hanging in between.  There is a lot to the story that I’m not mentioning, out of honor to my parents and for the desire to protect my sister.  Needless to say, I’m angry about the situation.  I talk to my sister about it, and she won’t tell me anything negative about how she feels.  She tells me these stories of junk that they do, but shows no emotion.  I pry, and get nothing.
So when she left her journal, I jumped at the chance to read it.  And what I read, I felt.
I called her and told her I read it, because I’m a good big sister ;).  I asked her why she hadn’t been telling me what she had been feeling—because her emotions were deep and hurting.  She stated, “Heather, I’m a Christian.  God gave me these things to go through, and I just have to do it.  I can’t be angry or physically do anything about it because it’s the Christian thing to just sit through it and take it.”
Since when did God command us to have no emotions?  Since when did God tell us to be content with the sin that takes place around us?
The sad thing is, my sister is not the only one who feels this way about her circumstances.  Countless Christians “just deal” with their situations because they feel that’s the “Christian” thing to do.  They say, “Well Job dealt with worse than me, and he remained faithful.”  Have you read Job?  Job remained faithful, but he also ripped his clothing and mourned over his circumstances.  Even Christ, when realizing that he would be sacrificing himself, asked God for another way.  Paul begged God three times to take the thorn in the flesh away.  These three men show us that there is no dichotomy to “being upset about a circumstance” and “trusting God.”  They can be synonymous.  It is healthy to feel emotions, even to be angry.  When you bottle that up and don’t express it, do you truly even trust God?  How can you trust God with your heart when you don’t even bear it to him?
I’m not saying you have to become “emo” and update your Facebook status every ten minutes telling everyone how crappy your life is.  What I’m saying is, mourn your circumstances.  Pray for the people hurting you.  If you have the power to change something that is hurting you, ask God for the strength to change it.  Trust that God will mold your desires to match his.  And rest in the promise that everything will work for the good of those who trust in the Lord according to His perfect will.

Faith ♥

christianity, faith
Now for one of my absolute faaaaaaaavorite topics, faith.
((Lately in church, the pastor has been preaching out of James on the passage about Faith and Works.  This happens to be one of my most absolute favorite verses.  My friend Brandi also talked about this idea a bit in chapel last week, and I had a fabulous conversation with her before she spoke and amazing conversations with people following her “sermon.”  This summer, I faced the difficulty in teaching the idea of faith and works, because it’s a hard thing to teach without sounding legalistic.  So I feel like it’s about time for me to write about it!))
So I’ll begin :)

Faith without works is dead.  What does that mean?  It means that you cannot have a true, saving faith without repercussions afterwards.  Salvation is more than just praying a prayer; it has to have after-effects.  Think about a marriage—they make a promise, sign a piece of paper, and go on with their life living the same way, right?  NO!  Every day when they wake up, they renew their commitment and strive to please their spouse.  A relationship with Christ is the same way.  You make a commitment to a relationship with Him, and this love for Him should radically change your life daily.  I believe very deeply that it is impossible to get into heaven without a transformation in your life, even if you “pray the prayer” and “ask Jesus into your life.”

Am I being harsh?  Some might think so.  Let’s examine the word “faith”, though!  The word faith in Greek is pistis.  The word in itself means “an active, working faith.”  It is used hundreds of time in the Bible, and if you took a look to examine each of these times, usually you will see that in the context of the passage around it there are actions supplementing the faith.  I think that some people mistake “faith” and “believing.”  James says, “Even the demons believe, and they shudder.”  Does believing in God get you to heaven?  No.  Faith does.  What’s the difference between faith and believing?  The action put into faith.  Faith then, by its definition here, “is an active belief.”  If you take away the actions or works from faith, all you get is “belief”, and belief gets you nowhere in eternity.  When looking at the two words behind “faith” and believe” in Greek, the difference is the conviction behind “faith”, and the actions put into it and not into “believe”.  Faith without works is dead, not only in the fact that it is no longer death, but it doesn’t bring you Eternal Life.
In our modern Christian attempt to draw more people to Christ and show that Christianity is not about legalism, I think that we have produced an apathetic Christianity.  Christians are too comfortable in their lives and aren’t doing anything about their beliefs.  (Listen to Lecrae’s “Send Me!”) I think this is incredibly sad!  When Jesus called his disciples, what did He say?  GET UP and FOLLOW ME.  He didn’t say, “Just, um, believe that I exist and we’re good!”  They believed in Him, but by their actions they gained true faith.
Let me be clear here, you do not obtain salvation through actions.  You obtain salvation through faith.  Faith is an active, working belief, meaning you believe in it and thus are driven to do something about it.  Example:  I believe that my bed does not have snakes in it.  To have faith in it would mean that I would actually get in the bed.  We believe in God, but to have faith in Him would be to follow his commands and to live out his promises.

So how do we have an active, working belief—Faith?  First of all, following His commands.  We are commanded to Love God with everything we got, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  This is the summary, to me, of living out faith.  James talks about how true religion is helping out the orphans and widows, and if we see anybody in need to help them in a physical and tangible way.  I think tithing is a good way to act out your faith in God and His church; it shows that you trust in the church the same way I trust in my snakeless bed.  Evangelizing, spreading the Gospel, is an amazing way of spreading your faith by living out God’s commands of making disciples.  Discipling a younger believer, getting involved in choir, attending a camp or retreat; these are all good ways of acting out faith.  Making war with sin and trying to overcome temptation is necessary.  The great thing about living out faith is that there is not “cookie-cutter” way of doing it, which eliminates legalism.  Each person has their own special gift; make sure to use it when you live out your faith.

The bottom line is, if you believe in Jesus Christ and call Him your Lord and Savior, that HAS to have an effect on your life…it has HAD to have moved you!

I hope I have done this topic justice.  Please read James 2, Hebrews 11, and Romans.  And then go do something about what you believe in.

Faith VS Apathy

bible, christianity, faith

I struggle a lot with apathy…or at least I thought it was apathy. I didn’t understand why so much was going on in my life, but I didn’t seem really effected by it. My heart hurt, but I wasn’t reacting the way that I used to, the way I thought I should. I was getting lazy towards the amount of time I spent with God, lazy getting into His Word. I thought I was a horrible Christian. When I asked God to break me, I was hoping that it would be a way for Him to break me out of my apathy. But, as you read in my last post, Him breaking me realized how much trust I had in Him! Which made me think, was I apathetic, or just completely trusting that He had my back? Was my apathy not apathy, but faith?

Hebrews says that faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of the things we do not see. Apathy can be defined as an absence of emotion or enthusiasm. They don’t really sound the same there. Faith is hopeful and very emotional, while Apathy is the feeling (or non-feeling) of uncertainty and carelessness.

Matthew 6:25-30:

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This shows us that faith is when you trust in the Lord so much, that you don’t worry and don’t care about what is going on around you. It can be mistaken for apathy in that you aren’t overly emotional about your heartaches. You aren’t over-dramatizing things. You aren’t constantly thinking about hardships. Faith is when you give it up to God and believe that He can take care of you when you can’t see the end results of hurts and struggles…knowing that He is sovereign and understanding over your situation. Fully trusting in Him. Is that hard? Heck yes. Is it apathy? Heck no. Not worrying about something is not automatically apathy. I understand that now.
Apathy is not caring, but Faith is letting God take care.