Friday, May 18, 2012

Why I Don't Think GCB Should have been Cancelled

GCB was a television show that aired on ABC, I believe on Tuesday nights. I did not watch any episodes. I only saw a few minutes of it one night at it's intro before seeing the title and realizing what I was watching. The only reason I even knew about the show and what it was supposed to be about was because I somehow became a part of a group called "One Million Moms." Now, I'm not a mom, nor do I think I will be one in the very near future, but it still somehow keeps me up to date on just how sad our nation is getting. They send out emails about protesting companies that support homosexual rights, or abortion clinics, or anything along those lines. And I'm fine with that... though I don't think protesting them is going to change anything. Sometimes I do send in a letter of protest, but it's rare... I think I've only done it twice.

These protests are usually effective, but only if by effective we mean it gets them to stop supporting these causes. If by effective we mean we're changing their hearts and minds about the matter, I believe we have failed miserably.

I received an email from them about 2-3 months ago, ranting and raving about a new show on ABC, called "GCB"... short for "Good Christian Belles" (based on a novel with a similar but not so classy title). This was from one of the first emails I received regarding this program.
"This show is described as "a wicked new drama that digs up sins from the characters' past and leads to scandal." They make sure no one is seen as a saint. Church members are seen scheming for revenge to an extent far greater than what has ever been seen before on network television. ABC's promotion states the good girls have gone bad and get rowdy.
The first episode used Biblical references, hymns, prayer, and scripture to portray Christians in a negative light. The twisted plot included gossip, theft, spreading lies about someone having an STD, cheating, and porn in the script. The very first scene had a husband running off with his mistress to Mexico with money he had stolen from investors."

Now, while as a show, I agree it is extremely inappropriate, I didn't like the way we went about getting it off the air. The majority of complaints I read on it related to how the programs portrayed Christians in a negative light. I never sent a letter of protest. Something didn't sit well with me. Finally, I received this email from OMM (One Million Moms)

"One Final Attempt to Have 'GCB' Cancelled!

May 9, 2012

Dear Alex,
Two months ago, ABC launched the TV series "GCB," a show centered on a bigoted portrayal of Christianity. For ten weeks, episodes have mocked and portrayed Christians in a negative light. This program is about as far from true Christianity as it could be.
Last Sunday, ABC aired the season finale of "GCB." This week the network will make a final decision on whether or not the show will be cancelled or renewed for another season.
Now is our last chance to send a strong message to advertisers, letting them know we are outraged by their sponsorship of a show that openly ridicules the Christian faith and depicts its followers as spiteful hypocrites.
ABC has to decide if they will continue to push their agenda through a show that belittles the beliefs of millions. ABC will announce on May 15 whether or not "GCB" will be in their fall lineup or if it will be dumped on the cancellation heap.
Kristin Chenoweth, one of the lead actresses from "GCB," describes herself as a "nonjudgmental, liberal Christian" and describes the premise of "GCB," saying, "It's so wrong, it's right." And that "The show is funny, it's silly."
She goes on to claim, "I would never do anything that would make fun of my God, my Christianity."
Really Ms. Chenoweth? Because that is exactly what the show does! Christianity is constantly portrayed as a joke and Christians are made to look like buffoons.
Before the show even aired, Robert Harling, the creator of "GCB," claimed, "Church is sacred...we will never, ever be disrespectful."
Now he sings a different tune, stating in a recent interview, "We knew it would be controversial. We knew it would be provocative."
Help us send a clear message to the advertisers and to ABC that "GCB" will not be supported"

After getting this email it all clicked for me. This show is a portrayal of what the World sees in those who call themselves God's people. Christ followers. It is not a slam on Christ.. it's a slam on His people...

And then it made sense.

ABC isn't slamming Christ's image... His OWN people are! We are the ones portaying Christ in a negative light. We are not living what we believe! We are claiming to have a love in us from Christ, but we are unwilling to show it to others.  Sure we wear our Christian T-Shirts, and have our Christian lingo, but when the rubber meets the road, most Christians through themselves into neutral and coast... When the opportunity to love those who don't understand us arises, we instead attack them.

By protesting these companies, we aren't sharing the love of Christ, we are threatening them with our money. That does NOT convince others that what we believe in is worth trusting.

I can tell you I have the recipe for the best chocolate cake. I can tell you all about the ingredients, how I bake it, what it looks like... but until I give you a piece of it, you have no reason to trust me. We can talk about God's love, grace, forgiveness, justice and mercy, but until we give others a piece of it, they have no idea what we're talking about, nor do they want to.

By protesting and whining...what we're telling them is "you're absolutely right, that's how we act, but if you keep saying it, we won't give you our money." Not, "we're sorry this is the image we've portrayed, we will try to make it better." Instead of apologizing for being the people portrayed in this program, we are behaving just like them. idle threats do not lead to a change of heart.

Here's the bottom line. The world is depraved... and it won't be getting better... scripture makes it clear that it will only get worse from here. Our job is to love in the name of Christ. Not to be outraged at the honest opinions of others, even if those opinions hurt our feelings. They should hurt our feelings. They should hurt us so deeply and break our hearts and compel us to change. Something's gotta give!

So how do I think we should have responded? I think we all should have tuned in (without the children), watched a few episodes, heard them out, and then come together to figure out where we went wrong in portraying Christ's love so poorly. Then, like we come together and protest, we should have come together and apologized. Overcome evil with good. Loved them more. Not been spiteful or hateful. Fits of rage are not a mark of a child of God. We should have responded in love and peace, without sacrificing truth. But love, not being right, is what can turn a heart.

We want to say, "well Jesus said if the World hated Him, it will hate us as well"

Here's the problem with that. Jesus spoke truth. Jesus lived what He taught. He didn't sacrifice His message to cater to the desires of the people but He also treated them with love. They hated His message. We should be joyful when people are offended by the gospel, not when they are offended by us.

We inflict more harm on each other within the church than non believers do to each other. Christians tend to be more lazy on the job. How many times have you been cut off and honked at by a driver with a Christian fish? (it kills me when people say "I don't want to put the Fish on my car because I don't drive like a Christian...I'll give you a minute to figure out where the problem is there).

It's like boasting of sobriety with a tall sangria in your hand. It's like being a dietician and being 200 pounds overweight. It's like being a hairdresser with fried hair. Something just doesn't sync together there, right? They will know who we are by our love. Not by our money, not by our picket signs, not by our "outrage" not by our protest letter. By our love.

Time is simply too short to not just live what we believe. Stop just saying it... start living it! Then shows like GCB won't even be an issue!

God's Grace is Sufficient

It has been so long since I posted here. I have been sick, tired, depressed, weak, and busy. Not to mention that I no longer have internet at home. I have tried to blog, but when the time comes to start writing, my brain simply shuts down. The truth of the matter is I'm burned out. I'm not sure how much more of this I have ahead of me. If you had told me December 6th that I would still, on May 18th, be ill and battling for strength to get through each day, I would never have believed you. I never could have imagined what this first half of my year would entail. And I'm glad God didn't choose to reveal that to me ahead of time. He only gives us what He knows we can handle.

I have to be honest. I have been slacking in my walk with Christ. My daily Bible reading is all but nonexistent. My prayer life is sporadic at best, and my decision to dwell on true, peaceful, life-giving thoughts is nearly always ignored. God has called me to join the Apollo Beach Bell Shoals, and while I'm grateful to be so welcomed into my new church home, I miss my family at FishHawk Fellowship. As wonderful as this new church is, it simply doesn't feel like home yet. Don't get me wrong, I know my home is in Heaven, but you know what I mean. It's new and different, and different is not easily taken into my mind right now.

I'm finally getting some real help from a doctor who may actually be able to help me get better. Right now, I'm simply too weak to work. Any physical exertion, any emotional upset, anything at all, and my body breaks out again in spots. My blood vessels are weak, my mind is weak, I have minimal concentration, I cannot understand the things some people say to me. Things have to be repeated on occasion. I'm very very different from the Alex who was stumbling through life last year. In some ways for the better, in other ways, not so much.

But His Grace is sufficient. It's the only thing I can hold onto right now. It's the only hope I ever have, when things are going well, and when things are horrible. When I feel strong and when I feel weak, when I feel able, and when I feel disabled, when I feel hopeful and when I feel helpless. When I feel needed and when I feel worthless. The one truth that resonates and provides for me the hope that gets me through is that His Grace is sufficient.

God's Grace is sufficient.

God's Grace

is Sufficient.


Not too much, and not too little. Just what I need.

Goldilocks sleeping in Baby Bear's bed does not know the comfort of God's "Just Right" Grace. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It Starts

Tonight was my first time back at Refuge back with Matt Setliffe teaching us. Both this message and last week's resonated in my soul. It's so hard right now to write a linear story... I so want to share what was spoken into my heart this evening. But I want to make sure I tell the story God has so graciously written for me, in a way that is clear and in order. That being said, it still seems fitting that I finally get around to sharing this part of my testimony tonight.

December 7th. A Wednesday night. I remember because it was my last normal evening out.

My resounding, simple message from God - "listen daily" - in heart and hand, I went into Bell Shoals for their Wednesday night service. I had a strange little rash on my elbow from the park, and assuming it was just from a plant, I shrugged it off and came anyway. It was very uncomfortable but I truly thought nothing of it. After service, my best friend and I spent some time talking in my car. We are both feeling called to the same mission field, Italy, and because of this, we've shared many similar experiences of spiritual growth. We were discussing these, and I was sharing with her the things God had revealed to me at the park the day before.

I went into Refuge, socialized as I always do. Went to all the people I always hug hello. Finally found the friends I always sit with and excitedly reserved the entire second row for us all. The message that night is not one I'm soon to forget. It was from a series titled "Out of Context," where we explored a few key verses that are used PAINFULLY out of context, and then learn the amazing, bigger, more wonderful beauty of them all IN context. That week's message was about Jeremiah 29:11. I could never properly summarize it (especially at nearly 1 a.m.) so I HIGHLY recommend you simply listen to it here. (Out of Context, Part 4)

The message was not what I expected. This verse, though often used in business and graduate encouragement, is actually about a promise during a period of great discipline. At one point in the message, Matt said, "it's very possible... that God is disciplining some of you tonight, that you're in a season of discipline. I may not know that you're in a season of discipline. YOU know if you're in a season of discipline."

I remember this part clearly, because I sat there and nodded in agreement. Yes, I thought, I've been in those seasons. I just got out of one now! Thank you, God, for bringing me out of it!

I started to feel a strange burning pain on my legs towards the end of this message. I later went home and discovered the rash.

It wasn't until nearly a month later that I connected these two events in my mind. At the moment that Matt was teaching about discipline, I was entering into a season of it myself. As I was thanking God for bringing me out of one season, I was unknowingly entering another one... or maybe it's all the same one and God just REALLY isn't finished with me yet.

Whatever the case may be, my uninformed prayer of praise is testimony to the sovereignty of God. I mean, think about it. I was looking back, thanking Him, not realizing the massive journey He was about to bring me through! O, how funny that we try to plan ahead. We don't know what the next moment holds, let alone the next day, week, month or year! Why do we place such emphasis on our plans? Only God's Will prevails!

That night, I never would have guessed the path I was about to walk. Even tonight, I have no idea what the next chapter holds. I may be completely healed in the morning. I may get sicker. I may have to simply deal with being in the same health as I am right now. I don't know what the doctors are going to say in the coming weeks. I don't know a whole lot of anything. But what a comfort it is to know I can hold onto the One who knows it all! He's in our tomorrows before we get there, and He already knows how they'll turn out. Regardless, I know He's there with me, and for that I owe my undying gratitude and praise!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Starting Before the Beginning

So, here's a shocker... I didn't journal through this journey... I mean I think that's why they call it a journal... JOURNal... JOURNey... get it? I'm supposed to document my journey! But truth be told I simply lacked the energy and mental clarity to write anything that made sense. I tried a few times, but I just didn't have it in me. So I'm praying to God for grace to give me the memories I need to be sharing with you all. So it may not be the whole story, but it's the story that God wants me to share.

I'm going to try to go in order of how this all has progressed, just so I can keep track of everything. I want to make sense to everyone. As you know, God is a God of order. We see that in creation. Everything may be complicated, but it all makes sense and has order.

So I'd love to say I'll start at the beginning, but truth be told, I'm going to start BEFORE the beginning, because that's where the story really starts.

At the beginning of December, I started to feel like my life was truly out of control. I had no job, no self-esteem, no desire to put myself in a position to lose another job due to lack of skill or focus or concentration or whatever number of reasons I was left unemployed. I wanted to badly to be one of those people who stays in the same place for 10-15 years, not because I wanted to stay in one place, but because I wanted someone to want me in the same place for that long. Weird, I know, but there you have it, that's how my brain works :).

I was also growing increasingly depressed. I was wasting my days watching DVD movies (no, you don't need cable to waste time...). I didn't have internet at home, and I didn't feel like making the "drive" to the McDonald's that is literally less than a quarter of a mile away from me, to get online there. I didn't want to waste my time applying to jobs that I already knew from experience weren't going to hire me. I was stuck, in a huge rut of despair.

So I decided to make a change. But before making this change, I wanted to take some long, uninterrupted time with my Lord. So I went to the park. I hadn't planned on sharing what He told me, but it's so fitting, I can't imagine telling my story without it!

Let me back up just a bit first. Before I went to the park, I had started reading The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. I was almost done with it, but I still had about 5 chapters left. The night before I'd planned my mini retreat, God kept me awake. Now what you may not know about me is that I can't read at night. I read about 3 pages or so and I'm so groggy I can't see the words anymore. So the fact that late at night, God kept me awake long enough to read those 5 chapters is proof of His providence.

When I first came to the park, I was astounded by the silence. It was what drew me to it. It was why I chose the park I did for my quiet reflection with God. It seemed perfect for drowning out the noise of my life. So I went to a little spot and sat down. But I found I couldn't focus because I couldn't get a comfortable spot. so I moved somewhere else. slowly I became distracted by noises I hadn't heard before, noises nature makes that I don't get to hear because I'm too busy with man-made distractions. God had me sit down and listen to the difference being set apart from the noise was making. I was still hearing noise. It was one of those "if a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear" situations... the palm trees always make noise when wind hits them, but do we always hear it? No...

In the same way, God is always speaking to us. He's always speaking His love, guidance, rebuke, discipline, peace, joy, revelation, to us. But are we always listening? No. But if we stop and listen, we'll start to hear that still, small Voice of our great, powerful God.

I distinctly remember feeling as though He was speaking into my heart, "you need to listen to Me." So I responded, "Well, I'm listening now." To which He responded, "Listen daily."

Little did I know He was about to take me on a journey that would make His voice and His character loud and clear. Daily. Hourly. In every horrifying, painful moment.

God prepares His people. And the beauty is we really don't know why until we look back and say the only thing we are fit to say: "Wow, praise be to God."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gross!!!! And Yet So Beautiful!!!

So it's been a little over two months. I shared with you all previously how I didn't know what was next... well let's just say I NEVER GUESSED it would be this! December 6, 2011, I went to the park, December 7, I woke up with a small rash on my elbow... thought absolutely nothing of it, threw a little cortisone cream and moved on with my day. That night while at church, I started to feel a strange burning feeling on my ankles, then up my legs. But I was at Refuge... so needless to say between that and the subsequent Applebee's visit, I wasn't so focused on the strange pain.

I got home to find my legs completely covered in blisters. The next morning, when my father saw them he made himself very clear that I needed to go to the doctor. I made an appointment and went in as soon as possible. My doctor said it was an auto-immune response to some (and by some I mean a truckload of the stuff) penicillin I'd taken about 10 days previously for a throat infection. She gave me a Prednisone dose pack and sent me on my way.

Four days later, my mom saw it. By then it had begun to grow, spread, and get darker. She cried when she saw it. My mom's not the crying type. Believe me it takes a lot for her to cry. It was quite overwhelming.

She told me I needed to go back immediately to the doctor and show her that it had not improved. Upon seeing how much worse the rash got, she sent me immediately to a dermatologist. They were able to see me right then, and they diagnosed me with Boullis Leukocytoclastic vasculitis (I forgot to mention the massive blisters that were accumulating on my ankles...hence the "Boullis"). They did a biopsy to confirm.

I was put on a much higher and much longer dose plan of Prednisone, and given two separate ointments to use on the blisters. Each night was horrible pain and discomfort. I was not allowed to take certain pain killers because they believed I was reacting to medication, and they were therefore hesitant to give me anything that could have any real side effects. So that meant nothing more than ibuprofen...lots and lots of ibuprofen. I kept my use of it to a minimum.

From my understanding of Boullis Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis, the leukocytes (a white blood cell) form in the blood vessel walls, causing them to erupt. I could feel each one breaking on my feet. It took ice packs and elevation to keep them from blistering further on my feet.

I spent two weeks in a wheelchair. That was by far the most difficult for me, to know I had to bother someone in my family for every need to took me away from my bed.

The blisters continued to grow until about a third of them burst. I'm currently going through daily wound care waiting for them to heal. Under the broken blisters were ulcerated skin...meaning pretty much that I had no skin under them, just raw tissue and exposed and damaged nerve endings.

I also spent 3 days in the hospital, where I received three doses of IV steroids.

I'm still trying to figure out which was worse...the rash or the accompanying stomach pain. Those nights were by far the most frightening. I was unable to take thoughts and form them into words. I would try to ask for a cracker and couldn't get my mouth to say cracker. That was definitely the most terrifying part, not being able to get my brain to do what it needed to do. The pain was so severe that the next morning, if I had even the slightest hint that it was returning I would break down crying.

Just when I thought the worst was over, the blisters started to break on my ankles. As I said before, I'm still going through wound care daily with my incredible mom and dad. I honestly don't know how they've gotten this far with it, it is emotionally trying, to be doing something to your daughter every day that you know is causing her pain that brings her to tears.

Today I'm still trying to get my energy back and walk in spite of the painful open wounds.

I share all of this with you not to make you feel bad for me, but to let you know how much God has been showing me. I hope to in the next few days gather all my thoughts on the amazing things God had made so clear to me through this trial. Then of course I'll have to ask God which ones He wants me to share and which were for me alone in the moment, but hopefully He'll want me to share it all, because the journey has been incredible! So for the next few posts, keep in mind this condition I was in, because even I don't want to have to go through all the icky details again!