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What the world’s gotten wrong about Josh Duggar…

sin.

The Duggar family.

You know, I wasn’t going to write on this topic. I just wasn’t going to discuss this issue  because in all honesty, I’m fairly exhausted from all that I’ve read, seen and heard thus far. I didn’t want to contribute yet another article/post/opinion on the subject, but after reading (and re-reading), listening, and viewing the massive amount of comments in response to this “scandal”, I felt there was an underlying problem to this story that has yet to be addressed. One I can’t help but comment on;

Christians aren’t allowed to mess up.

Now, allow me to preface the remaining content by stating that what Josh Duggar did was inexcusable, heinous, and yes, horrible. It just was. Lives were forever altered, and victims were created. My intention here is not to defend his actions, but to shed light on that which has yet to be mentioned; the way in which this information has been handled by the media (as well as the majority of the North American continent) as well as the double standard that exists when it comes to a repentant Christian’s heart, accountability, and forgiveness.

Allow me to explain:

Each one of us is human…fallible…flawed. Each one of us (Christian or not) is more than capable of finding our way into serious sin.  Even though we know better. Even though we’re well aware of what we’re doing. See, the Enemy’s sole desire is to see us fall—to fail–as he trips us up and tempts us time and time again. You and I both know this to be true. We’ve seen it take place in our own lives. Each of us has a past just as we can instantly recall those moments where we’ve messed up and made poor decisions. Decisions that may have affected others, hurt family members, and the likes. Maybe not to the degree of Josh Duggar, but we all have history, agreed? And when these sins occur, when we feel remorse for what we’ve done, we desire grace above all else. We pray that others might forgive our trespasses, extend mercy, and that those yucky old sins we’ve found our way in to, will in fact be forgotten.

No one wants to be reminded of their past. No one particularly enjoys the consequences that occur from the mistakes they once made. And you know what? Christians are the same way.

But. The. World.

For whatever reason, it appears the world around us can’t help but judge with a harsh finger just as it’s equally eager to point out the weaknesses of an imperfect Christian. Hey, we’re supposed to know better, right?  Just as we need to be held accountable for the speech we preach and the written Word we defend. Somehow those outside of the church have conjured up this notion that in order to back up what we’re preaching, Christians need to be perfect…free from error. We’re not supposed to sin. Not at all.  And when we do, our culture is the first to point it out and yes, the last to forgive.  It’s as if the world’s standing ready…ready for any opportunity to denounce the Christian faith, the church, and the Lord we serve.

Plain and simple: our society wants Christians to fail.

I hate to say that. Really, I do. But I can’t help but think it true.  In the case of Josh Duggar, we’d much rather concentrate on the sin instead of the redemption that’s taken place in the twelve years since. We’d prefer to shout hypocrite, as well as a slew of other nasty names his way. We’ve chosen to spew hatred towards his family, just as we’ve already formed our opinions and cast judgement without knowing all of the details.  I think what’s bothering me the most about this whole thing is the double standard that exists when it comes to the blame game. I mean, we can forgive sinners in the spotlight. We can laugh at Lena Dunham’s antics after stating the same type of confession in her recently published book. We can forgive past presidents for the sexual wrongdoings and infidelity they’ve committed while in office. We can look the other way when it comes to certain celebrities, athletes, and the likes. Except for Christians. Except for people like the Duggars.

Now, please don’t think for a moment that I’m condoning sin. Quite the opposite in fact.  I’m repulsed by this recent confession and beyond upset at what transpired all those years ago in the Duggar household. It sickens me to be quite frank. But the thing about this incident—this scandal concerning Josh Duggar—well, I truly feel it it has less to do with him and everything to do with what (and Who) he represents. It’s about the world’s response to him…and Christians as a whole.

And we need to ask ourselves why.

**I know this is a sensitive topic, friends.  All inappropriate comments will be removed…

Faith Lived Loud: A 5 Day Challenge and Free Download

Faith Lived Loud: A 5 Day Challenge and Free Download

One pediatrician’s appointment
One trip to the grocery store
Two rounds of baseball practice
One visit to Target for party favors
One stop at the gas station to fill up the minivan

If you took a peek at my calendar on any given day, you’d see a whole bunch of crazy! Between the chores that keep my household running, the errands and appointments to keep us all on schedule, and the endless to-do list that seems to grow by the minute, it’s easy to see my life is chaotic.  The schedule I keep is busy…perhaps, too busy. And I’m guessing it looks a lot like yours.

In the midst of these hectic days is where I struggle…and where those first world problems seemingly take over. It’s where I find myself (and my family) too wrapped up in our hectic schedules to focus on the really important things in life, and the Great Commission we’ve been given as our true purpose. Many of us (me included) find our faith on mute when it comes to sharing Jesus. We know we’re called to make this world more aware of our Savior and His message. Yet our voices are still—stifled even—by our own fears and frenzied lifestyles.

Oftentimes, we’re so consumed with us that we forget about Him.

But deep down, we know this life is not all about us—it’s about the One who first loved us and sacrificed everything for a relationship with us. Why would we keep that Good News to ourselves? I think if we’re all honest, we want to share His love and to be the women God uses to reach out to others. We want to be His megaphone of grace, love, truth, peace, and healing in this dark, harsh world. But, our self-doubt or desire to stay in our comfort zone prevent us from actively showcasing the awesome God we serve!

This life we lead isn't about us, it's about the One who first served us up on that cross—and about the people He loves! — Jenny Lee Sulpizio

So, as we ready ourselves this week for the upcoming celebration of our risen King, maybe it’s time for us to finally get more vocal. Together, maybe we need to re-prioritize our thinking, conquer some of our inward focused fears and habits, and purpose to do more in His name for the people He loves.

Because I long to be that woman—unafraid to apply words of Truth from Scripture in secular settings to encourage and defend others, the one who could care less about the stares and whispers as I bow my head in prayer in public places, the one who actively seeks ways to be His hands and feet with those He places in my path.

I want to become stronger in my faith and bolder when it comes to sharing it.
I want to silence all the busyness and crazy schedules and live out my faith…louder.

God didn’t create me in His image for the sole purpose of living a comfortable existence—sidelined by my security—out of the game and away from the action. He made you and I for so much more than that — to do great things instead of nothing, to serve others instead of ourselves. But we need to get involved. You and I? We need to speak up!

So what do you say to conquering the fears that keep us silent, and growing bolder in the name of Jesus? What do you say to pumping up the volume on our faith and living it loud?

Friend, I’m inviting you to do just that! Simply sign up below* and over the next five days, we’ll work through some of the biggest obstacles when it comes to sharing our faith. Even better? We’ll dive into some highly actionable and authentic ways to be Jesus to those around us! So, are you ready? Are you finally ready to speak up and speak out in the name of Jesus? Are you ready to fulfill your purpose and calling–to get bold–and live this gift of faith out loud?

Me too. Let’s do this.

As a thank you for joining me and to kickstart this challenge, you’ll also receive a free downloadable wallpaper for your computer, tablet, or phone with a simple reminder to live boldly!

Free Downloadable Wallpaper via Jenny Lee Sulpizio

Make sure to check your email for a confirmation email!

Doing the Right Thing…and Loving It

Guest Post by Erin MacPherson

Have you ever felt like doing the right thing means giving up all of your fun?

I remember a weekend in college where this reality made my zeal to do right come crashing to a halt. The student life center hosted a “van-me” dance. Basically, everyone showed up to a dance on Friday night and one lucky person was drawn at random to win a free “van-me” weekend away.

My roommate won—which meant she got to take five friends to the mountains for a weekend of skiing, hot tubbing, relaxing and eating food that wasn’t cafeteria food. For free. A poor, broke college student’s dream.

Except for one thing: I had a huge paper due on Monday.

And as I watched my friends pack their bags and pull away from the dorm, I wanted to scream. And cry. And throw my Apple 2SII desktop at the wall. Because while I knew the right thing to do would be to stay home and finish my homework, get good grades, make the best of my education opportunity, blah blah blah, what I really wanted to do was throw caution to the wind and spend the weekend with my friends.

Doing the right thing felt so wrong.

right-thing-valentine's-day

And I have to admit that oftentimes—even as an adult—doing right feels like the boring thing, the un-fun thing, the less exciting thing, the less cool thing to me. (Which is why I make my husband send in the mortgage check so I don’t get tempted by, say, a big sale at Anthropologie.)

I like to have fun.

I like a little excitement.

And honestly, I struggle sometimes to remember that I am God’s Girl (Thanks Jenny!) and doing the right thing is something that honors God. Even if it doesn’t necessarily align with my desires.

But here’s something else: There are a few areas of life where the right thing is the fun thing, the cool thing, the best thing. And one such area is marriage. Namely, sex.

God wants us to have an intimate, respectful relationship with our husbands. He wants us to pour into each other, to put each other first, to love each other wholly.

It’s the right thing to do. But it’s also the fun thing to do. I mean, who doesn’t want a hot, romantic sex life?

I’m sure all of your hands are raised in the air right now.

And now I’m going to step forward and volunteer (as tribute!) to help you all do the right thing this month. It will be tough—I’ll probably have to do horrible things like go out on date nights and eat chocolates and have amazing sex—but I’m willing to do it for you. You know, to help you do the right thing.

In a few days, the 50 Shades of Grey movie comes out. And, in case you are wondering what I think of it, let me just be blunt: The movie is NOT the right thing. It’s demeaning towards women, demonizing towards men and takes a beautiful thing God created (sex) and makes it dirty.

So I’m not watching it. And I’d like to challenge you to do the right thing this as well: Instead of going to watch other people have sex in the 50 Shades of Grey movie for Valentine’s Day, stay home and have real, intimate, Godly sex with your husband. It’s that simple.

The right thing. The fun thing. The cool thing. All in one, simple package.

Will you join me?

41U+JSdPU2L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_If so, click here to read about the entire challenge and if you want, post it on your Facebook page (you know, so you can help other girls be all godly and stuff.)

Plus, we have some tools to help you make the night, ahem, extra special. My new e-book (co-authored with the amazing Kathi Lipp) is called 10 Ideas to Inspire Red Hot Sex. It’s loaded with fun, flirty advice and yes, sex ideas to help you make your marriage hot.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Oh, and remember, do the right thing.

 

 

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Erin MacPherson is the author of more than nine books, including her newest release, the Hot Mama series. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Cameron and her three adorable kids Joey, Kate and Will. She blogs at erinmacpherson.com.

 

Why American Sniper just called me out…

American Sniper.

To be honest, I had no (real) desire to see this film. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I’m unpatriotic. It’s not that I don’t respect our military. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate (and applaud) the efforts of Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, either. Not at all. It’s just that—well, I knew exactly how I would feel after seeing such a movie as this. I read the reviews, I saw the trailer and I knew the emotions I would struggle with, the anger that would creep up, as well as the sadness that would undoubtedly fill my heart upon viewing it. I was completely aware of the impact this film and the life of Chris Kyle would have on me, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure I could handle it.

But I went anyways.

My husband and I sat in a crowded theatre, popcorn in hand and we watched. For an hour and a half we remained silent as we saw this man’s life play out on screen. And even though I knew the gist of this story, as well as how it ended, this movie hit me hard. Real hard.

AMERICAN SNIPER

I wasn’t prepared for it. Not the opening scene. Nor the lump in my throat that appeared half way through the movie as war scenes unraveled. One of ‘em right after another. Not any of it, friends. But here is what I want to share…here are a few words that I think need to be said to those of us on the outside–civilians–like me, who (for the most part) have no idea what military life is like:

We are blessed.

Freedom isn’t free.

Our men and women in uniform (and their spouses) are heroes.

And as a nation (generally speaking), we take so very much for granted.

I know I have. I’ve taken my freedom(s) for granted more often than I can count.  Daily, in fact. I don’t honor the military–or our country–like I should…like they deserve.  Sure, I teach my boys to remove their hats and place their hands over their hearts when saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I tell my children to thank a veteran for their service come each and every Veteran’s Day. I parade a flag outside my home on national holidays. But is that really enough? After seeing a movie like American Sniper, the answer is a resounding “no.”

See, I’ve failed to truly appreciate my rights as an American citizen and the freedom(s) I’ve been born into and blessed by. Know what else? I’m not aware (not fully, at least) of the sacrifices being made for me and my family day in and day out. I guess I’ve grown so consumed with my own life, that it’s hard to focus on another’s. Especially the soldiers out there on the front line–those who are risking their lives to defend mine…ours. Defending our freedom of speech, our right to bear arms, our right to…everything. It’s so easy to do, right America?

But then you see a film like American Sniper. You watch a man risking everything for his country. You see him leave behind his family (four tours!), you see the battlefield he treads upon, the impossible choices he’s forced to make in the name of war, and you can’t help but cry. To weep. To feel a twinge of guilt, and yet overwhelming appreciation at the same time.

It’s true: I didn’t want to see American Sniper. Not really. But as I look back, I think the real reason I didn’t want to view this film was because of the discomfort—the emotions—I knew would surface…and the naivety I’d be forced to confront. Friends, you and I (or at least the majority of us)? We aren’t there on the battlefield, we have yet to experience the holidays away from our families, missed births, etc. We have no clue what it would be like to serve, to put our lives on the line for others. We have the pleasure of not seeing what they see.

But in American Sniper, we get a glimpse of it all, don’t we? A small glimpse. And it alters our thinking, doesn’t it? We exit those theatres different than when we came in. We’re more aware. Definitely more appreciative. Thankful for sure.

I dunno about you, but I left American Sniper…changed.

So what do we do now? How do we honor those in our military? How do we thank them for their heroics, and their sacrifices? How do we give back to men like Chris Kyle who’ve given so much? Who have given it all?

  1. Donate to The Wounded Warrior Project: I don’t care if it’s five bucks or five hundred. Any amount you can give to this amazing charity that helps our military men and women both medically and mentally (PTSD), is necessary. Donate if you can.
  2. Pray. There is so much power in prayer, friends. Pray for our military and their families. For protection…for strength.
  3. Do Your Part. Get involved in community efforts to send care packages, and cards, abroad. Find out what you can do to make the life of a serviceman (or woman) and their familes, easier…and appreciated.

 

The email that could change a life…

You’ve. Got. Mail.

Remember turning on your computer, signing into your email account and hearing this one phrase uttered through the speaker(s) of your PC? It was fun (at first), wasn’t it? Knowing that communication was at the click of a button. That you could use your mouse and keyboard to shoot instant emails back and forth between friends and loved ones. Awesome, right?

And now? Well, now we look at email as a nuisance for the most part. We search our inboxes only to find advertisements, spam, and one offer after another. These days our email accounts serve more as a distraction rather than the form of communication they once were. Yet another distraction in a sea of “busyness” we find ourselves consumed by.

But what if this could change? What if we could reclaim our accounts by sending an email that really matters…one that brings a message of hope. Friends, what if we could send an email that could change the life of a friend…a loved one…or even a neighbor.

Because each one of us? We know someone in need of the grace and freedom only found in a relationship with Jesus, right? We’re aware of this truth but sometimes we struggle when it comes to sharing it. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words, or even the right time to bring “Him” up in conversation. But what if we could use the very form of communication we’ve grown consumed by–email–to change all of this?  What if we could communicate (using modern-day technology) to alter the life of another with the message of Christ?

FTLOG-SALE-MED

For a VERY LIMITED TIME (as in “hurry”) you can purchase the Kindle version of For the Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace for just $2.99! Sent directly to the inbox (anonymously or otherwise) of someone who needs to hear this message most.

To send this super important and much-needed email, simply head here: bit.ly/youve-got-mail and click “Give As A Gift”.

Stand in the gap for your friend. Reach out right now and equip her with this guide–a book that can help her silence those doubts, answer her questions about faith, experience God’s grace, and breathe in the unconditional love she was always meant to know. Send an email that can literally transform the life of another…

In His name,

Jenny

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