Tightly Gripped Church Pews

For many years my feet have stood planted on the same hardwood floors, hands firmly grasped on the wooden back of the pew in front of me. Some Sundays met with swaying and smiles, others with tears, heartache, and questions. In that same space, on the same row in the same small country church, my faith has flourished, my faith has been challenged, my faith has struggled, my faith has grown. 

The term “since before you were born” rings no truer than when talking about my upbringing in the church. It was where my parents brought me as an infant and dedicated me to the Lord, where I ran after children’s church to my dad’s lap, where I snuck naps and snacks hiding in the pew when I was too young to pay attention to the sermon. Those pews were the ones that held my family when my dad got sick, when his cancer worsened, and where we said our final goodbye to him. That same wooden floor is where I stood as a middle schooler questioning what it meant to be a Christian, as a high schooler trying to figure out how to live in the world but not of it, and even as a college student when I was maturing in my understanding of the beauty of Scripture and being a disciple of Christ. 

The foundations of my faith were shaped within those wooden walls. The trials, the heartache, the seasons of joy, the wrestling against the big questions of life were dealt with in those pews and at that altar. That same church pew has been a space that my life has existed for its entirety. 

I stood in that same place this past weekend. I don’t get to visit quite as often as I used to, but every time I do I leave incredibly grateful. As I stood in my normal spot next to my family, I looked down at my hands placed where they have fallen many times before. I noted the scratches and scuffs in the wood around them and wondered how many were put there by me. What stories I bet they could tell. 

There is no power in that church pew. Nothing miraculous about those wooden floors where my heels dig in. But in that place is where the Lord has met me time and time again. This weekend I couldn’t help but recall His faithfulness to me. From the little girl running to her father’s arms to the now-married woman learning daily to rely on the Heavenly Father. 

In our youth group at the church my husband and I attend in Montgomery we’ve been talking a lot about testimonies. Many of the students in our youth group have similar stories as mine. Most of them have also been raised in a local church from the time they were young. We talked with them about how several of them feel that do not have much of a story to tell. Standing in that church pew on Co Rd 44 this weekend reminded me of mine. 

If you’ve been around church your whole life it’s easy to go along with the motions of things. There are some dangerous places those motions will take you if you’re not careful:

1 – You can live your whole life assuming there is some kind of saving power in a church building. You can miss the Gospel and assume “salavation by relation”. Sister or brother – repent and believe. Going to church cannot save you anymore than going in the ocean makes you a fish! (Sounds silly – but it’s true!) No amount of church services you attend can take away your sins. In Christ alone can you know true hope. 

2 – You can be puffed up in pride and not even realize it. A sin I struggled with (read: STRUGGLE with) is pride. I’ve been taught the Bible since the time I was born. It’s easy to think that this earns you some kind of “christian merit” and walk around like you can do no wrong, casting judgement to all those who struggle outwardly with sin. Brother and sister – check your heart. Ask the Lord to humble you and show you your sin. You must rely on Him as your Savior no matter how many Bible verses you can quote. 

3 – You can become numb to the true message of the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we were dead in our trespasses and sins – all fall short of the glory of God. Whether you’ve got a permanent spot in a church pew or not, you were wretched in sin without Christ. Your sin was serious. It completely alianted you from Christ. It’s easy to assume that because by the standards of the world you aren’t “that bad” that God sees you the same way. Hardly. Sin brings death and God cannot be associated with it. Even if you realized your need for a Saviour at a young age – you DO have a testimony! The Lord saved you from the miry pit, redeemed you, called you His own and gave you the promise of eternal life. Everyday since He has been sanctifying you through the Holy Spirit. That is an incredibly powerful story to tell. Brother and sister – don’t fall numb to the power of the Gospel. 

I praise God for that front left pew in Blackwood Church where the Lord saved me. What an incredible gift of grace that I get to know Him as my Father. Don’t forget to remember your story and rejoice in the gift of salvation – no matter where you stood before you knew Christ. 

Am I Faithful without a Following?

We live in a digital world where almost everyone has an online presence. The online world simultaneously exists alongside “real” life. Social media has given way for people of all kinds with all sorts of stories to rise to fame with thousands of followers leaning in to listen to what they have to say and share. It’s not only celebrities who exist as elites with large followings, but those that know how to work the algorithm, curate entertaining or educational content, and engage with a present audience.

For my entire life, I’ve always felt the draw to share the things on my heart with others. Out of that desire came my blog. As a middle schooler, I decided to go beyond the pages of my journal and begin writing online. My readers consisted of my mom and a few family friends, but that didn’t matter much to me. Writing felt like the outlet to share outwardly what the Lord was doing inwardly. 

My writing has continued, though a bit less frequently than when I was younger. The desires of my heart have not changed, however. When I read something in scripture and the Lord begins to sanctify me in truth I have a natural inclination to share that through words. Many times my husband gets the brunt of it, but in our social media society, sometimes I pick up my phone and share it with friends and family that follow me online, too. I enjoy teaching others about what I am being taught. While I don’t pretend to be the most skilled, I do feel that the Lord has given me at least some gifting in speaking and it brings me great joy to do so. 

Recently I’ve been in a bit of a hard place. As my husband and I sat at one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants just recently I shared with him the struggle that’s been waging within my soul. Through high school and college, I felt that I had so much purpose. I was involved in organizations that I was passionate about, I held leadership positions that gave me a reason to work hard, and I felt that the ways that I was serving and working were meaningful. Since graduating, I’ve struggled to feel that same sense of purpose. 

You don’t have to scroll long online until you’ll come across those “influencers” with thousands of followers that hang on their every word. I’ve easily allowed a social media-focused world to become the gauge of my “success” in life. The industry I work in constantly is measuring client’s goals based on the achievement of increased followers, increased engagement, and increased sales. Because of the desires of my heart and the society that gives anyone a voice, I’ve wrongly assumed that I must be called to share online and see growth in my platform.   

I always wanted to be the girl with a big voice. In this new season of life, I’ve struggled to know how to use that voice as I did in high school and college. I’ve been easily discouraged trying to weed through what my passions, desires, talents, and giftings are and then in turn knowing how to use those in my career and personal life for the furthering of the Kingdom. The world seems to be screaming at me, “well what does your online presence say about you?” 

I don’t have that large of a following besides those I personally know. Nobody subscribes to my blog that I’m aware of. I don’t consistently post and I don’t intentionally engage with my audience regularly. I am in no sense a graphic designer and cannot for the life of me figure out how to create the perfect Instagram color scheme. So, by the same measures that I use to examine my own clients at work, I’m not doing too hot in the social media world. 

Social media culture has taught us that in order to be deemed successful, you must have a significant following. I would guess I’m not the only one that has bought into that lie. 

The Lord has not called us to grow a large audience in order to be deemed faithful. He might bless some with a platform of some significant size to share with others but never has that been the intended goal. Our calling instead is to faithfully follow right where we are, no matter who is or who isn’t watching. 

Will I be faithful in following the Lord even if the task before me is to serve and walk obediently behind a closed door where few might ever see? Will I surrender my gifts, my talents, my skills, and my passions to the Lord and say, “Father, use them as you see fit. It’s about you, it is not about me.” Online culture has caused us to think that the vessel of the truth is far more important than the truth itself. While we will be used by Him and for Him, we are not the prize – He is. 

Sister, social media is not the judge of your faithfulness. I am in the middle of this learning season, trying to figure out how to walk in my passions and skills. One thing I’m taking away is that while social media is a gift that we can use and should use for His glory, it has very little to do with measuring our true faithfulness in following Christ. 

Will I obey Him, serve Him and speak of Him even if nobody is listening? Will I be faithful even without a following? These are the questions I’m pondering within my soul. 


One of the most frustrating things is when you get something brand new that you are so excited about, only to have it ruined after only a short time of having it. 

You get home with a new shirt that you can’t wait to wear! It only takes an hour of having it on before your lunch for the day misses your mouth and food goes tumbling down the front. No stain remover is perfect, and some stains just won’t come out. 

Or, you buy a new piece of decor for your house. You get it set up just like you like it. After a few days, you accidentally bump into the counter knocking it over and before long, your beautiful new decorative piece is shattered on the floor. 

These frustrating feelings can go beyond just material things, too. You had plans that suddenly fell through, the job you wanted so bad didn’t work out as you wanted it to, or you didn’t score as good as you hoped on the test you studied so hard for. 

Even more serious, you lose a loved one far sooner than you expected. A friend moves away and you feel lonely. Or, you come down with an illness that will severely inhibit your way of life. 

We easily get frustrated about these mishaps in life. Some rightly so, others just due to our selfishness and pride. However, I think there’s a lesson to learn in that place of disappointment. 

I’ve just begun reading through 1 Peter. The first chapter of this book uses some very strong language that stuck out to me as I skimmed the verses. 










These words are all related in one big way – they describe something that is sure and steady. In contrast to the things that I listed above, whatever these words are describing can’t be ruined, taken away, or lost. 

So, what are they talking about? 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

1 Peter 1:3-5

In Christ, we are born again to a LIVING hope and an inheritance that cannot be destroyed. In a world that is constantly trying to get our attention and begs us to put our hope in anything but God, these verses remind us that nothing on this earth will ever be worth placing our hope and confidence in apart from Christ. 

The new clothes we buy will eventually wear out. The houses we build and fill with pretty things will eventually get dirty and fall apart. Friendships, plans, and careers will at some point disappoint us. Wealth will be spent, health will be challenged. Why do we so easily throw ourselves toward these things, expecting to find real life? 

Hear me on this, it isn’t wrong to desire nice things, a home you enjoy filling, friendships that last, a career you love, or the health of you and your family. However, we must take this perspective – even those things can’t satisfy our hearts apart from Christ. We must be careful to not search in this world for what only God can give. 

A few verses down in 1 Peter 1:23-25 the words of Isaiah 40 are repeated: 

Since you have been born again not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass 
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls,
But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

What a glorious hope that is! In Christ, we do not have to fear the loss of material goods. When we know Christ as our Savior, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit into something that is imperishable, completely undefiled, and unfading. Even as we face losses, challenges, and trials of this world, which we will, we can have confidence in our eternity with Christ that is a living hope. 

It will never go away, it will never be thwarted. 

Our lives, as verse 24-25 remind us, are like the grass – fading and withering. But the one thing that remains is the Word of God and His promises. 

What are we clinging to? The perishable or the imperishable?

Take hold of the living hope of Jesus Christ and find true rest and life for your souls. 

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Matthew 6:19-20

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-3

You’re Not Off the Hook

I marveled at the thought of overseas missions as a young Christian. Surely that’s what God was calling me to, right? There would be no way my life would have any value if not lived across the world taking the Gospel to those unreached. Now, several years later, I still have those desires deep within my soul, but I’ve learned a lot more about my calling since then. 

As believers, the Great Commission is not limited to only a few – 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age

Matthew 28:19-20

If I would have been asked the question as a freshman in high school “what do you want to do after college?” I would’ve answered probably pretty confidently – some form of ministry. It’s not that my answer at this point in my life has changed, but I see “ministry” differently than I did as a 15-year-old.

After graduating from college and getting married my husband and I settled into a new home in a new city with new jobs. It felt normal – what everyone does. As a Christian, however, it’s not just “normal.” 

We have a calling 

I have no idea where the Lord will lead Brannon and me over the seasons of our lives. I do hope to one day serve in full-time ministry or in missions, but I’m learning that no matter my vocation there is already a very radical call on my life. 

We are called to make disciples wherever we are, whatever we are doing. If I’m ever unsure of God’s will for my life – I can turn to the command of Matthew 28. 

As a high schooler, I assumed that this calling lived out looked bold and beautiful. What I never considered was how to live obediently to that command even in the mundane. 

I live in Montgomery, Alabama – not anywhere overly exciting (though I do think it’s pretty great!) 

Is my calling null and void just because it’s close to home? Hardly. 

Live Obediently 

Some are called to leave the comfort of their country to serve the Lord in new places, and maybe that is your calling. But those callings aren’t “better” than the ones that lead us to somewhere nearby – they are equally as important, but oftentimes ignored. 

The need for the Gospel isn’t based on your geographic location. Right where you are there are people that need to be shown the love of Christ. How will you do that?

Over the past year, we have tried to be very intentional about not becoming complacent where we are at. It’s HARD and please hear me when I say that we have conquered nothing – we have SO much to learn. However, with the command that we have on our lives, we want to live radically no matter where we are. We are still discovering exactly what that looks like for us, but here are a few things we’ve tried to practice: 

  1. Join and ACTIVELY participate in a local church body 
  2. Be intentional about your time 
  3. Seek out those around you 
  4. Make yourself available 
  5. Use your talents and gifts to serve
  6. If you’re not going, send
  7. Prioritize time in the Word 
  8. Pray for the lost 

I can go down the list and tell you how we’ve failed at each of these things, but it is our desire to honor and glorify Christ in these ways. 

You’re Not Off the Hook 

I lived a large part of my life thinking, “well when I’m this age / in this stage / in this place then I can really serve God with my life.” The truth is that I am called to serve Him exactly where my feet are planted. 

I’ve come to realize that one of the hardest ministries for me, personally, is in a place and around people that I am most comfortable with. But that is exactly where we must start living radically for the Gospel. 

No matter your age, your marital status, or your job – you’re not off the hook. You are called to love God and love others. How are you walking in obedience to that calling? 

Take the Next Step 

I have always struggled with trying to figure out God’s plans for my life – trying to see what’s around the corner. Sometimes, those plans aren’t for us to know. We are called to honor him with just the next step. 

An analogy I heard recently explained this well. When you’re hiking a mountain, you’re eyes follow the ground to make sure you don’t trip over any limbs or rocks. However, every few minutes, you glance up to see what’s up ahead. A lot of times our lives might look exactly like this. It’s not bad to plan and dream for the future, taking those glances to see what’s to come, but don’t forget to also put energy into making sure you’re doing well right where your foot is standing currently. 

My husband and I both have a desire to serve the Lord through missions and ministry, and maybe one day that will look like selling all we have and moving to a new place with new people. But right now, we are called to serve the community we are in, work well at the jobs we’ve been given, and walk faithfully with a local church while supporting those who are called to go in this season. 

We’re not off the hook – and neither are you. 

Why do bad things happen to “good” people?

One of my favorite quotes by R.C. Sproul Jr. says this, 

“Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once and He volunteered.”

R.C Sproul Jr

This question is one that frustrates the minds of many – why do bad things happen to good people? We have all faced trials and sufferings of different kinds. Losing loved ones, facing sickness, financial struggles, natural disasters, and more have disrupted the lives of people across our world from the beginning of time. I’m sure there have been times where you too have begged the question, “why?”

You’re not alone in that wondering. In my lifetime I’ve faced several challenges that have caused me to question and doubt the goodness of God. At only 5 years old I watched my dad battle against cancer raging through his body, and eventually succumb to the disease. We lost my grandfather and a family friend during my middle school years. My grandmothers have all faced serious health challenges that threatened their lives. My uncle died suddenly in the night. And just recently we got an unwanted breast cancer diagnosis for my mom. 

Some might say that I have the right to ask those “why” questions, and while it’s definitely our natural inclination to do so, I’ve learned that those aren’t the questions that we should be asking. 

In my 22 years of life, I’ve thought a lot about suffering on this side of heaven, what its purpose is, and why we endure it. Though I don’t pretend to know all of the answers, I do know the hope that I have in Christ that’s guided me through life’s toughest battles.

I don’t believe we will always know all the answers however, I do think there are truths that we can cling to when we face trials of various kinds. 

No one is good: 

Romans 3:10-12  
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Ephesians 2:1-3 
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

God is the standard of goodness and we have all gravely missed the mark. Due to our sin, we are separated from Christ, damned, and wretched. 

These verses are hard to swallow, but when we come to terms with our complete lack of goodness we can see more clearly his absolute goodness. When we understand that we are not good and unable to become good in our own strength, we are left searching for some type of hope. That hope is only found through Christ. 

There is purpose in suffering:

James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The Lord has made it clear in scripture that when (not if) we meet trials and sufferings that He is working within us. 

God uses suffering to open our eyes to where our treasure truly lies. If we treasure the health and wealth of this world, trials and tribulations will shake us to our core. If our treasure is in Christ, His promises and His eternal Kingdom, even life’s roughest storms will not move us. 

Suffering allows us to know God more. Had it not been for the dark days that my family walked through in losing my dad to cancer, I am not sure I would know the Lord today. He used those times in my life to show me my incredible need for Him. Through long nights of tears and questioning, I learned of His kindness, His faithfulness, His character, and His goodness.

Suffering refines us, leading us towards righteousness. Refining won’t always feel good at the moment, but what it is making is beautiful and worth it. 

We have a reason to rejoice:  

One of my dad’s favorite passages was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

In the years after we lost my dad, I would read over these verses and furrow my brow – rejoice? The will of God is for me to rejoice when I feel that I lost my dad too soon? And these are the words my dad clung to in facing death? 

His soul found rest in these verses because he knew that he had hope in Christ, outside of this world, that could not be touched or altered by sufferings in this lifetime. There is always a reason to rejoice in that. 

This hope is not found in healed diseases, financial peace, or calmed storms. This hope comes from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

As I said earlier – no one is good. In our sinfulness, we were separated from Christ. We have no hope. But God sent his son into this world for us. He stepped down out of heaven, walked around on the dust of the earth, never sinning and living a perfectly holy life. Yet, he was led to the cross. Upon him, our sins were placed. The Father looked away, and Jesus breathed His last. 

Three days later, the true breath of life filled His lungs and He walked out of the grave – defeating death and sin. 

He is where our hope lies. Jesus made a way, despite our lack of goodness, for us to know Him and walk in relationship with Him. When we know Him as our Savior and He becomes the Lord of our life, we are promised far more than a perfectly healthy body and ease of days – we are promised eternity with Him. 

That is why even when we face suffering of many kinds, we can and should rejoice. Praise God, this world and these bodies are not our home. 

So why do bad things happen to good people? Well, as R.C Sproul Jr. said, that only happened once – and He volunteered. Christ volunteered to stand in our place, as the only one in all of humanity that was good, to receive a bad, but just, punishment for our sins. And now, He calls us to himself – to repent, follow Him and make disciples of all nations. 

So even in the face of sufferings in this life – losing my dad, other loved ones, and now facing my mom’s cancer diagnosis – I will hope in Christ, rejoice in His promises, and cling to His faithfulness. 

The Fight for Unity

It is the eve of November 3rd. I’ve thought many times about what life will look like once the next president has taken office. Whether it be your personal choice or not, one of the candidates will be the 46th president of the United States. 

The last year has been a tough one for most. COVID-19 has caused so many to face unexpected health and financial trials. Unrest runs rampant in our streets. Many fear what is to come. 

I’ve only ever voted in one election. Though I’ve been alive for several others, it seems that this one is different. You have heard it says, “this is the most important election ever” and while I don’t disagree that this one is important, it’s not the level of importance that feels so different to me. 

Disunity has taken root in the lives of many, and christians are not exempt from that. Sadly, I don’t think we have done that great of a job of preventing it much at all. 

So, as voting polls close and all ballots are cast and Biden or Trump take the office, what will happen? What will November 4th mean for us? 

As I have personally tried to weigh the decision I will make on November 3rd, my heart has really broken to see how many brothers and sisters have split over differing opinions. I understand that there are some pretty weighty things at stake this election – ones that should not be overlooked. But, as followers of Christ, how should we respond to differences of opinions? 

After the election is over and there is a president, will unity in the church return? Will brothers and sisters come together under their common faith no matter the president? I’m worried, instead, that satan will continue to stir disunity in our congregations. 

So, how should we combat this? Here are a few things that I think christians should be reminded of:  

Our Calling Has Not Changed: 

No matter the president, God is still sovereign. He has not stepped down off of the throne. There won’t be chaos in Heaven trying to decide what moves to take because they weren’t expecting the outcome. God has not changed. His promises have not changed. Our calling has not and will not change. 

As believers, our sole purpose on this earth is to bring glory to Christ in all that we do. Simply put, we are called to know Him and make Him known. That won’t be any different whether Biden or Trump holds the title of “president.”

Knowing this truth, that our calling as followers of Christ hasn’t shifted, should we not rally around the Gospel and seek to tell the lost about Christ even more? 

Now more than ever we have seen how futile this world that we live in is. The Gospel, not policies and laws, is the hope of this world. No matter the president and no matter the state of our country – THIS is our calling, to go into all the world and make disciples. (Matthew 28:20)

The government doesn’t have the same calling that we do as christians. We have to be willing to get a little dirty and love those around us. That’s been our purpose from the beginning and it still will be after this election, and for all the ones to come. He makes it pretty clear that we are to love Him and love others – so let’s do that. 

His Word is True: 

We know that there are absolutes in Scripture that tell us, as christians, very clearly how we are to walk out our faith. But there are also issues that aren’t clearly stated in Scripture. As brothers and sisters I am sure we have all come to ideas that we differ on. Predestination? Post or pre millennialism? The list could go on. 

So, in our politics, there are bound to be differences in how we view things. While I wholeheartedly believe there are issues that do very clearly have a structure in Scripture, some do not. I really appreciate the way it was explained by two pastors in a podcast I listened to recently with the idea of whole church issues vs not whole church issues. 

Basically, there are things that very much are stated in scripture that christians should agree on. Those are whole church issues. Other issues that are a little less clear are ones that christians can vary on. It’s important to know the difference between the two.

The point is this: as christians, we are to hold Scripture up against our lives, our beliefs, our political leanings and all else. As brothers and sisters in Christ we should be able to encourage each other to do this. If we fall on different sides of a few issues we can ask ourselves – is this something scripture clearly states or not? Can we be unified in Christ with these differences? 

The more important question is probably this – are we treasuring Christ’s Word as the supreme guide of all aspects of our lives? If we are believers we can’t draw lines around the parts of our lives we want the Word to impact and which ones it’s not allowed to touch. We must believe that above all else, His Word is true. 

He is Still on the Throne

I mentioned this earlier, but I think it’s a vital point to end on. 

I’ve heard some people say that they are so fearful of what’s to come if America goes one way or the other on this election. While I, too, have some concerns about what our lives will look like if this or that takes place, I must realize that no matter what happens God is still sovereign. 

I often consider the Old Testament times in the Bible and what the people of those days faced. Think of the Israelties in Egypt. We very clearly see their struggle to trust that God was going to do what He had promised. We have way more reason to trust God now than they did, and yet we still doubt. 

We can rest assured in this truth – God is King. The Psalms repeat it over and over that the world is His, and all that is in it is under His control. We can find so much comfort in this truth, while also walking out in boldness because we know that this world is not our home. We are only pilgrims passing through. 

So, when the election is over and the next president takes office, no matter who it is, let’s fight for unity among christians. We were never promised that life on this earth will be easy. American christians know very little about persecution. I’m not at all wishing for persecution to come, but Scripture is pretty clear that we will face it. If it comes to us through the means of a president and corrupt policies, why should we be surprised? 

No matter the outcome, our calling has not changed, His Word is still true, and He is still on the throne. So, go vote on November 3rd. It is extremely important. We should steward our citizenship well and honor Christ by exercising our right to vote. But come home and find peace in the fact that the outcome of the 2020 election does not determine your eternity – Christ does. 

Buckle down, brothers and sisters. Now is the time to dig in and know Christ more than ever. We are His ambassadors on this earth. During this season, how well will we represent Him in our calling to unity around the Gospel? 

A New Perspective

When my dad passed away in 2003 I was only 5 years old, with very little capacity to fully comprehend the weight of what my family was walking through. Instead, mourning him looked different through the ever-changing seasons of my life and gave me a new perspective. 

As a five year old I longed for my daddy to tuck me in, read our nightly Bible stories and to chase my siblings and me through the house.

In middle school I began to see for the first time the differences in dynamics between my family and most others, and wished for mine to just be normal.

My high school years brought lots of tears with realizations that major milestones in my life, like prom and graduation, would always feel a bit empty without my dad present.

College brought new struggles, wishing for the advice and guidance of a dad in my life during so many decisions and transitions.

And in the new season that I’m currently walking through, marriage, young adulthood and beginning a career, I’m experiencing even more new struggles in missing my dad.  

Though there has always been a gap in our family without my dad being there, my mom is a wonderful woman and did all that she could to make our lives feel normal. I never felt that we went without, even though there was only one of her. She did her absolute best to be both mom and dad to us.

Until just recently, I haven’t considered her side of the stages of mourning. Though there were many nights we all hugged each other and wiped tears away, my mom was strong, resilient, and did what she had to do to raise us. She always was quick to comfort us, while I’m sure there were just as many nights that she, too, needed comforting. 


After I got engaged I began to think about my mom more. I anticipated my soon to be new role as a wife and all of the exciting things that would come along with that. I began to think about what it must have been like to be in my mother’s shoes nearly 30 years ago – anxiously waiting to marry my dad.

They had no idea at the time that only a few short years later they would be receiving a detrimental cancer diagnosis that would completely change their lives. Throughout the year of my engagement, and even almost one full year into my marriage, those thoughts still haunt me a bit. 

My mom and dad had no idea what was to come. If I were to ask my mom what she would do differently if she could go back to those blissful years pre cancer, I’m sure she would say hold on to every moment a little bit longer, cherish the mundane a little bit more, let go of all the small frustrations, and hug each other a bit tighter. 

I read a post on Facebook the other day that made me stop and think.

When you see your husband’s dirty clothes two feet from the hamper, just pick them up and toss them where they are supposed to be, it said, instead of complaining to him about how you’ve asked him many times to put them away. The open cabinets left out toothpaste, and unmade beds – though they are all frustrations that you could easily nag your spouse about, instead appreciate them. Those small annoyances mean that your spouse is present, and that’s something to be so thankful for. 

Many might read this post and scroll on by thinking, “what a sweet thought,” but never really consider that it could be their reality. Even with having lost my dad, many times I fall prey to this same thinking. Something was different as I read that post that afternoon though. I thought of my mom and how I am sure she would give anything to have one more day of picking up after my dad.


Throughout every season of my life I’ve gained a different perspective on the death of my dad. This time of my life is no different. I hope these aren’t lessons I soon forget, but instead make it a priority to consider my mom every time I get frustrated at my husband and every time we disagree.

Though that’s not to say that we shouldn’t deal with things in our marriage, but instead to cherish the fact that we are together and can work through things by each other’s sides, holding to the covenant that we made to each other knowing that we are not promised tomorrow. 

So, though we can’t fully step into my mom’s shoes, I hope we all learn a lesson from her life. As I see her now sending off her children to college and watching them get married and have kids of their own, I’ve considered a lot more that I wasn’t the only one that must have walked through different seasons of mourning.

She filled her life with her 3 kids, she raised them up, sent them off and now she’s facing a new reality. When many parents are settling in for their retirement years to enjoy the quiet of just being together again, my mom is an empty nester on her own. While she would never want our pity, I can imagine she faces tougher days than she might ever let me in on. 

So from the strength, grace, vulnerability and joy of my mom I hope I have learned and continue to learn these lessons: 

  • Do not take our time here for granted. As Scripture says in Proverbs 27:1, we are not promised tomorrow. How should we live our lives differently, especially with those we love most, knowing that this is true? 
  • Love those around you and do not miss a moment to just soak up time together. 
  • When life gets tough, lean into the Father’s arms who has promised his presence in all seasons of life. 
  • Even when it’s not easy, take the next step. In the strength of the Lord, you will carry on. 

Tonight as I head home from work I’ll hug my husband for a few seconds longer. I’ll wash the dishes and thank the Lord for the gift of having my best friend to have a meal with. I’ll close the cabinets I’ve asked him to shut 10 times already with joy in my heart, because we can laugh at these little frustrating habits we both have and rejoice that we get to share a home together. For however long the Lord allows me to continue on this earth, I pray this new perspective will guide me. 

Does Church Membership Make you a Christian?

I’ve never really known life outside of a local church. As the saying goes, I was there even before I was born! My parents were faithful members of our small, country church. My dad was an elder, my mom a member of the choir, and the head of several committees. Growing up I knew every VBS song, Bible memory verse, and had worn the angel halo every year for the children’s Christmas play. 

My church family was way more than just a church family – they were my family. When my dad passed away from colon cancer in 2002, they were the ones that carried us through. They walked beside my mom, sister, brother, and me during some of the toughest days in our lives. Not only that, but they stayed by our side. My mom, now a single mother of 3, never had to worry about having help. 

My church helped lay the foundations of my faith. They taught me Scripture, showed me what it meant to live as a Christian, and loved me selflessly, with their entire self. 

When I first moved to college I knew that I needed to find a church to be a part of. I had only ever known one church, and I had no idea how to look for a new one. The Lord graciously led me to First Baptist Church of Troy. It was there that I began to see that I didn’t have a very good grasp of what it meant to be a member of a local church. Though I had grown up in the church and had seen an incredible example of how the church should operate, I had never really put any thought into why it was operating that way. What was the purpose of the local church? Why was I supposed to go to church? Thankfully, I had some awesome teachers that helped me figure out the answer to those questions. 

Living in the south, many people view the church as a safety net. They mindlessly attend because it’s the thing you’re supposed to do. They listen to the pastor and maybe even serve in some ways. At some point, their church membership becomes their salvation – instead of the actual saving power of Christ. They begin to see their Christianity in the number of services attended, positions held, and Bible studies led. They have missed a huge piece to the Christian faith – the Gospel. 

What is the local church? 

“The local church is the authority on earth that Jesus has instituted to officially affirm and give shape to the Christian life and yours.”
Church Membership, Jonathan Leeman
Page 24 

“…the Bible establishes the local church as your highest authority on earth when it comes to your discipleship to Christ and your citizenship in Christ’s presence and promised nation.”
Church Membership, Jonathan Leeman
Page 25

The best way that I’ve ever heard it explained is that the local church is like an embassy for the Kingdom of God. Just as if you were to visit another country, you could find the embassy of the United States that represents that nation inside of another nation. An embassy protects the citizens of the home nation within the host nation. So, the church is the embassy of God’s Kingdom – a nation represented inside of another nation, a public face to our future nation. 

What is Church membership? 

“To be a Christian is to belong to a church.”
Church Membership, Jonathan Leeman
Page 46

“Church membership is a formal relationship between a church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christian’s discipleship and the Christian’s submission to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church… Church membership, in other words, is all about a church taking specific responsibility for you, and you for a church.”
Church Membership, Jonathan Leeman
Page 64 

Though there are many many details I could get into when discussing church membership, I want to point out one thing – church membership is for the Christian. 

Church membership is Biblical and the basis of it is laid out in Scripture. You can see that in the lives of the apostles in the New Testament. Check out the book of Acts for more on this! 

So why take the time to explain those two things? Because I believe many people have misconstrued the definition of the local church and church membership. More than ever, many Christians have been challenged in their view of the church in the midst of COVID-19 shutdowns. 

“The more pastors I talk to, the more concern there is for a spiritual falling away of members as a result of the last several months. Here’s my personal and very humble take on what is happening.

For years, we’ve held church attendance (even spotty) as the gold standard of being a Christian. I think this is especially true in the deep South Bible Belt. We’ve failed to disciple and train our people to feed themselves the word of God, spend time every day in communion with God through prayer, actively share the gospel through witnessing, and hunger after God through fasting.

For several months, COVID took away the one thing that many self-proclaimed Christians held, again, as the benchmark of good Christianity. All that remained was the foundation of the spiritual disciplines and when our house of Christianity isn’t built on a solid foundation it falls like stacked cards when even the smallest wind blows.

Our personal daily walk with Christ cannot be neglected because when everything else is stripped away it will determine how long we survive.”

Daniel Atkins
pastor of Taylor Road Baptist Church, Montgomery via Facebook

I believe this quote by pastor Daniel Atkins sums up what many are facing right now in their faith – what exists of it without church attendance? I think there are two ways to look at this: 

First – The truth of Salvation

As explained in Pastor Atkins’ post, salvation is far more than church attendance. Jesus is the solid foundation that our Christian life should be built upon – not church membership.

Salvation is the free gift of God that was purchased by Jesus on the cross. Because of the wretchedness of our sin, we were eternally separated from God – there was no way we could have mustered up the might, the talent, or the retribution for our sinfulness to present ourselves as worthy to God. So, he made a way. 

Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, lived on earth as fully man and fully God. He faced the same realities (though of course in a different culture and time) that we face each day. The emotions we feel, he felt. The struggles we face, he also struggled with. One massive difference between us and Jesus, however, is that He never sinned – not once. 

He was led to the cross and took upon himself the punishment that in our sin we deserved (Rom 6:23.) In those moments on the cross, Christ took on the sin of the world and faced death and separation from His father. 

Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. Three days later Christ defeated death and rose again. Because of this glorious truth, we can know Him and be called His sons and daughters! Coming to Him with recognition of our sin and an understanding of our need for a savior, He calls us his own! 

With that explanation of the Gospel, be sure you notice this – there is no effort of our own selves that brings us to salvation. Even in the recognition of our sin, that’s His working in our hearts to open our eyes to even know that we are in need of Him. There’s not enough good deeds, church attendance, or service that we can do in our communities that place us in a position of rightness before God. 

Church attendance, even in its best efforts, affords us nothing in light of salvation. 

Second – The call to church membership 

Understanding that truth of salvation, we can now consider the other side of church attendance. 

As I said above, nothing we do can earn us salvation or a right relationship with Christ. Salvation is solely by grace through faith (Eph 2:8.

So, where does church membership fall? Church membership is not something you do to become a Christian, but it is what you do because you are a Christian. We are called, as faithful followers of Christ, to be members of a local church body. This is not to earn salvation, but instead because of it.

Just like reading your Bible, praying, evangelizing, and serving will not grant you favor with God, neither will church membership. However, all of these things are fruits of the life of a Christian. We should be reading our Bible, spending time in prayer, sharing the love of Christ, and serving those around us because of our salvation. 

Being a part of a local body is far more than just Sunday attendance. Local church membership is a gathering of believers close in a geographical location that submit to their church leadership, serve one another, use their individual talents for the betterment of the entire body, practice discipleship and evangelism, take part in Holy Communion, and seek to represent Christ to a lost world. As a member, you are called to bring about unity, not concerned only with your preferences and desires, but one that seeks to bring glory to the Lord through your submission and commitment to your local church. 

Church membership is a gift from God to be treasured, not something to just haphazardly go through the motions of. 

COVID-19 and the Church

I asked a series of questions on my Instagram story the other day in relation to this post. 

Here are some of the stats: 

93% of participants were members of a local church 

64% said their church held both online Sunday services + other small groups online during COVID shutdowns 

Out of roughly 200 participants, 103 of them said they struggled more in their walk with the Lord during time away from the church.

Almost 90% of participants said they believe that church membership for a Christian is very important. 

I was encouraged to hear from so many how the Lord had used this time to draw them closer to Himself. It seems as though with churches forced to transition to online-only, many had their faith stripped to the bare bones. In that place, many recognized that their salvation was not built on the foundation of Christ, but instead their “good deeds” as they tried to look like a Christian to earn favor with God. 

This one truth was echoed throughout the conversations I had from those Instagram questions – I think we’ve both recognized the importance of the local church during this time, while also gaining a greater understanding of the requirements of a life lived for Christ even outside the walls of the church. 

As church doors slowly begin to reopen, my prayer is that you would consider the basis of your church membership. I know for me personally, I have been able to grow in such a great appreciation for my local church and my calling to it as a Christian. I now want to attend church way more than I did before because I see how much it negatively impacted my life when I was not united with the church body regularly. I also have been challenged to practice more diligently the “quiet” and “behind the scenes” practices of my faith like spending daily time in Scripture and in prayer. Those things, alongside church membership, are not where we find our salvation, but instead should be the practices of our lives because of the incredible graciousness of Christ that we have been shown in being called sons and daughters. 

A few considerations for you on the way out: 

  • Have you truly recognized the depths of your sin and your need for a Savior, leading you to salvation?
  • Are you approaching church solely to have your needs met or to check off the box and attain “good Christian” status?
  • Do you understand the Biblical basis of the local church and why, as Christians, it is a requirement of us?
  • Are you submitting to your local church and seeking to serve as an active member, viewing your church as the embassy of God’s Kingdom here on earth? 


Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman 
I Am A Church Member by Thom S. Rainer 

Unprecedented Times

Unprecedented times.

How many times have we heard that phrase over the last 6 months?

It seems as though our current world is sitting on the stove as the heat gets warmer and warmer, quickly reaching boiling point.

As a believer in Jesus Christ my life is completely guided by my faith in God. While I won’t pretend that I do that perfectly in any case, it is true that it is my desire to be led by the truth of the Gospel in all aspects of my life.

I’ve been challenged, as I am sure many others have been as well, by how to respond to all that is going on in our world. While I do not know the answers to all of the questions we are facing, I do know one thing – if I allow my response to be shaped by this world and not by scripture, what good is my faith at all?

That question might seem a bit strange but hear me out. Why have a faith that isn’t going to guide the way that we live our lives? Why claim to believe a Bible that we’re not going to let affect the decisions that we make? If we say that we trust the Word of God as infallible and the true source of life – how can we draw boundary lines in our lives for what it does and does not get to control?

“One’s lack of belief in the authority and sufficiency of Scripture leads one to adopting defunct worldly ideologies and methodologies to understand and address the issues that plague mankind.” – Natalie | Kitchen of Oppression

I scrolled across this tweet a few days ago. As Christians, if we are grasping onto worldly ideals instead of those held up in scripture, what does this reveal about our true belief in the all sufficiency of scripture?

Over the past year and a half there has been one word that seems to rise above the rest in my mind – remember. I’ve been challenged through this phase of my life to remember often the character of God, His promises to us, and the truths found in His Word. With that I’ve also been convicted in this – how can we remember what we do not know?

As we face the tensions that we are seeing reveal themselves in our culture, how can we expect ourselves to cling only to things that are in line with scripture when we haven’t spent the time getting to know what scripture says? How do we find peace even in the midst of what seems to be doom and gloom times if we do not know the reason of genuine peace? How are we to encourage others towards the only true hope in life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ if it isn’t what we treasure most?

I’ve had to do some real soul- searching recently. I spend time watching the news, scrolling through Facebook comments, scanning blogs and listening to countless podcasts seeking out answers. Why am I not putting the same energy into pouring over scripture day and night? Even as I write this my soul is crying out – God, I have fallen so short.

I have seen many Christians grasp onto to solutions to racial tensions, raging controversial politics, and coronavirus complications that are so far from what we claim to hold as the guiding source of our life. Why? It is because we don’t know it, or because we do not treasure it?

Those are hard questions to answer, but ones that I feel are necessary.

I fear that too many want to hold onto the Bible as a safety net, but they don’t want to hold it up to their entire lives, their political views, their relationships, their way of having discussions with others and so on and so forth to completely shape and mold who they are and how they live their lives. I include myself in that crowd.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Do not be devoured by false and untrue ideologies and solutions that the world offers to you that the enemy has so creatively crafted to cause you to hold on to something other than God’s words.

I leave you with this quote:

“Softening Scripture always leads to bad doctrine. Where Scripture speaks firmly, we need to stand boldly.”  – @Stopnconsider

Brothers and sisters – let’s not trade in the truth of Scripture and the hope of the Gospel for a worldly offering that leads only to death. Be guided by the Word of God – know it, study it, treasure it and allow your life to be shaped by it. For in it we find the answers we need and the reason to hope. Though our world seems to be shaken, our God is not moved.

To The Christian That is Questioning

We are walking through days that we have never faced before. We are all scrambling to do the best that we can. Not one of us know how to do this perfectly.

Since January when the coronavirus first started making its way into the American news streams, the questioning began: Is this serious? Will it kill? How should we react?

I remember conversations I shared with others that felt it was no big deal at the time, as did I. It didn’t take long for us to realize things were going to play out a bit differently than the typical flu season. As businesses and schools began to close, fears began to rise. How long will this last? Will there be a way to treat it? How will our hospitals handle it? What about those that are losing jobs? Will there be more implications from this than just a health crisis?

As time progressed, new information surfaced.

 I have watched countless doctors stand on two different sides of the “science” fence. Some advocate for stricter rules, others disagree and argue for re-opening.

Politicians rage between party lines. Some seem to be working for our health and freedom, others only for their own.

The point at which I feel truly mad when trying to discern truth is when I see people on two different sides of the lines, kicking and screaming for what they believe to be true, as I stand in the middle trying to grasp, “well who do I believe?” I hold no degrees in medicine, and I’ve never in depth studied the law. So, when many of those that do have that knowledge, divide on what they believe how are we to know what is true?

It doesn’t take but a few scrolls through Facebook to see that we are all just trying to figure this thing out. It’s not just information about the virus, either. The stimulus packages, the scandals, the hidden agendas, the medical debates, the election news, the economic downturn – all are things I find myself searching and searching to “figure out.”

I have spent hours upon hours over the last two months reading, listening, and watching. Though I have never been one to study too far into politics, this pandemic has flipped a switch in me. I desire to be informed, well versed, and knowledgeable on the positions that I take. Why do I believe what I believe? I do not want to be the one fighting for what I stand for, when I have no leg to stand on.

Trust me, I am just as frustrated as the next person when I read the news or listen to a new piece of information. It seems as though as soon as something is stated, something else is released that changes the story. Some doctors say to wear masks, some say don’t. Some say to stay inside, others say that’s causing us greater issues. Political leaders seem to change their mind every hour, or focus on parts of this pandemic that aren’t important at all to the health and well-being of our country.  I am frustrated with the constant circle of chasing the true narrative just like you are.

Whether or not we agree on the same means by which this all should be handled, I do think the majority could agree that we all want the same thing- we want what’s best for this country, for our families, for our livelihoods and for our health.

As a Christian I have battled deeply within how to view this time first as a citizen of heaven, and then as a citizen of America. Both are important, but only one is eternal. Not only has this time proved difficult as an American, it’s stretched my faith and caused me to look further into how to exist as a sojourner awaiting my heavenly home, while not neglecting to serve others, love kindness, and do justice in the country I have been born into.

The bottom line is this: we need grace for one another.

I understand that not all motives are pure, but we must seek to understand the views from the opposite side of the fence.

 While I am not saying to NOT question the powers that be and the information that you are receiving, because I do think that is important. I am doing that myself! I have opinions and views that may or may not be shared by fellow believers. I love debating these issues, conversing about them, and having discussion with others to help me further understand and grasp all that I believe or don’t believe. However, what I am saying that as Christians we must consider how our speech and our actions are affecting others. Are we building each other up? How are we seeking unity? Are we giving into what the enemy wants and dividing right down the middle as we cling to our sides more than we cling to our faith?

I am not speaking right now to what you should or shouldn’t believe. My concern is more so that the church is allowing the happenings of this world- the world that we are told is NOT our home– to knock us completely off focus.

Pastors and church leaders are having to make extremely difficult decisions – are you praying for them or are you only bashing them for not doing what you think they should do in the time that you think they should do it?

Christians who hold political positions are having to fight tooth and nail to preserve the freedoms we have to our religion. Have you considered that this time might be mentally, emotionally and physically detrimental to their health? Have you stopped to thank them for their desire to serve God by serving the country that he placed them in?

Politicians that aren’t believers are in incredible positions of power that make decisions that affect all. Have you reminded yourself that we are called, by scripture, to pray for our leaders? Have we forgotten that even the coldest heart towards our faith could be changed by the Gospel? Have we forgotten that He has the power to save?

Nurses, doctors, and front-line workers of all kinds are making massive sacrifices for the health of many. Have you reminded them how grateful you are for them and the work that they do?

Brothers and sisters in Christ are facing tremendous struggles from their health to their ability to feed their families and all else in between. Are you encouraging them, seeking to serve them, or casting judgement when you see them out wearing a mask when you believe masks are useless? Or, on the opposite side, are you shouting mean remarks (verbally, behind a screen, or even just in your thoughts) because other believers think that it is time to get back to normal, to open the economy back up, and to remove the restrictions in place when you think it’s too soon?

Maybe I should re word those paragraphs instead to read “am I” doing these things, because if I had to be honest, the answer would be no. Not enough, at least.

The church is on a pedestal right now– how will the world see us? As hypocrites who divide amongst each other and fight to get their own way? Or will they see an example of a people walking humbly together, even when we disagree, for a greater goal than any vaccine, economic breakthrough, political ruling, or medical discovery could every bring about? Do you even know what I am talking about? THE GOSPEL. Have we completely lost sight?

Are we willing to say “Lord, change my heart, even if it is uncomfortable? Help me to see as you see, and to love truth of your Word more than self and more than preferences.”

Psalm 1 tells us that we should delight in the Law of the Lord more than ANYTHING else. Are we seeking to spend time in Scripture just as much as we are seeking to justify and find facts to back up what we believe to be true about this pandemic? Though there isn’t a verse that says, “and when you face the coronavirus do this…” there are verses that tell us our purpose, how to love one another, how to face trials of various kinds, how to show grace and mercy, and how to walk in obedience.

Form your opinions. Seek to know the truth. Dig to find answers. Discuss it with your trusted friends and family. But in the meantime, show grace to others who are doing the exact same thing you are doing. Pray to recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life, now more than ever. Meditate on His Word day and night. Seek to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with your God.

To even write these words my toes were stepped on. I have not done a good job at these things I’ve listed above. Instead, I have been more concerned with proving what I believe to be true.

As believers we are called to care, to be involved in government affairs, to make wise decisions in who we vote for, what we believe in, and how we live as citizens of this country. I hope to write more on my thoughts on that soon. However, for now, I encourage you brothers and sisters to not forget the hope that we have in Christ. This is a hope that is not based on circumstances, but on a grave that is empty. May we cling to that reality that is true and share it with others now more than ever before.  

Our hope is not in odds. Our hope is in God. – John Piper

We don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, but we do know what is going to happen ultimately. – Allie Beth Stuckey

Prayer Challenge:

I want to offer you this prayer challenge. It has helped me to switch my perspective each day. I invite you to join in on this with me. Change the days to make them personal to you, if that helps, but do not neglect to pray– for all things, knowing who your God is.

Monday: Your circle of friends, family, church members, and coworkers

Tuesday: Universal and persecuted church

Wednesday: All government leaders- local, state, and national

Thursday: Healthcare workers and first responders

Friday: Vulnerable communities- those who have lost jobs, those who are impoverished, single parent homes, those who are sick, etc.

Saturday: Those who do not know Christ

Sunday: Brothers and sister in Christ

It has helped me to set reminders in my phone to go off at a convenient time each day. If you join in on, let me know. I would love to hear how the Lord is working in your heart through prayer and scripture during these days.

I am praying for you, brothers and sisters in Christ. Those these times are hard, we know the end of our story.