The Fluffy Christmas Christians

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


God gives many gifts in life. At this time in the year, we seem to be even more apt to discussing what gifts we most enjoy. With Thanksgiving almost a month behind us, and Christmas getting closer and closer on the calendar, gifts seem to be on the mind.

What am I getting for my grandma? Do I have a note written for that friend? 

It wouldn't be unusual for someone to ask you, "So what did you get for Christmas?"

How might this play out in conversation?

"I got an awesome new iPhone! It's the 10s!"
"Your parents really go all out, don't they?!"

"My best friend was so sweet and picked out a perfect new necklace for me. She knows me so well!"
"That is sweet. It's so great to get practical gifts that we can use all year round!"

"Well, I don't mean to brag, but I got all new appliances! Our house has been getting so worn and old looking lately, and these new appliances just spruce everything up."
"What a worthwhile investment! Think of how much more you'll be able to entertain now."

"The kids have just been begging, so we decided to get out of our comfort zones and adopt a cute little kitten from the animal shelter!"
"Pets make such a great gift for kids; they love them to death, and have to learn some responsibility!"

"Well, this year we had an unexpected surprise. We just found out that we're expecting again!"
"WHAT. You literally already have four kids; you two really need to be responsible!"
"Haven't you heard of birth control?"
"You're getting way too old to have kids; have any more and it would just be cruel. They'll probably end up with Down's Syndrome because of your advanced maternal age!"
"You know, I have a great OBGYN... After this one is born, shoot me a text and I'll get you his number. He tied my tubes a few years back, and it's the best decision we've ever made."
"What?! Why?"
"Sweetie, your mom might not have ever had this conversation with you, but you don't have to keep having kids till every room in your house is full!"

New iPhone: wow that's literally the coolest thing I've ever seen!
Expensive appliances: so worthwhile, and great to show off!

New baby: WHAT?

I know I'm not imagining these things. People think of the latest gadgets, and appliances, and even necklaces and pets as more worth one's money and time than a living human being, created in the image of God.

I'm not condemning iPhones, appliances, necklaces, or pets; I personally have most of those. However, you have to admit that there's something very off when we are knock-your-socks-off excited for things that have no eternal value, but then flustered at the idea of another human being coming into existence.


The Problem Under the Trendy Caution Tape


"Cassidy, you're not married, you don't have an kids, and you've never been pregnant; you have no reason what so ever to be pushing inappropriate conversations like this! It's none of your business."

It's kind of funny, in a not-so-giggly kind of way, how many people (most of whom are Christians) would like to avoid me or discredit me in some way because I value even a second-old embryo as much as I value anyone else.

The Bible does not list your iPhone as a gift; of course, we know it is. Phones give us lots of opportunities to communicate, and hopefully that communication is giving us more opportunities to share Jesus.

What's bazaar is the fact that something that the Word of God does call a blessing, many see as a total burden if they don't like His timing.

Speaking in the context of a home being built and protected by the Lord, the Psalmist says it clearly: “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).

Oh Cassidy, not that verse again!

We live in a day and age where nearly every person sees children as a choice. In other words, if it's convenient for you and your spouse at this particular time in your life--financially, emotionally, physically, health-wise, based on what your doctor says, if your mother-in-law thinks it's a good idea--then you can, if you really want to, have kids. I challenge you: walk up to someone in the grocery store this week and ask them their thoughts on kids--are they a gift or a burden? You might be surprised how many people are convinced of the latter.

Even leading Christians have adopted this mentality. I am protestant, but have often admired my Catholic friend's unflinching stand against anything that could end the life of a child in the womb. Then the other day I saw a quote from one of the leading individuals in Catholicism who said the gist of:

"Yes, we should be fruitful and multiply, but we shouldn't be multiplying like rabbits!"

Hummm.

Protect life, see it as valuable, but don't go all out in this whole "be fruitful and multiply" thing. That's seriously old fashioned and extreme. The Bible's an old book; realize that we've got to reinterpret sometimes.

Most solid Christians I know with any kind of protestant background would never, ever, ever say that last phrase aloud.

However, are we saying it in our hearts?

Are we saying that the Word of God is wrong if it inconveniences us?

"Cassidy, you have to look at this from a more parent-minded perspective! Every child costs a ton of money. Hospital bills, toys, a crib, insurance, formula, clothes, and many other things. Not to mention the lack of sleep, physical labor, emotional drain, the way you can damage your body in pregnancy, and the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of a living, breathing child, and for eighteen plus years! You have no idea!!"

I'm not implying for a moment that pregnancy or parenthood are easy things. From what I've heard, they are hard, and are supposed to be. Think about your life; the things that are easiest often (but not always) sanctify us the least.

If kids were easy to raise, how much do you think you would realize your desperate need for Jesus? Probably not very much in your role as a parent.

Our world is full of billboards, magazine articles, and books on how to stop more kids from coming into the world. A majority of well-meaning Christian pastors make sure to mention during pre-marital counseling, "Don't forget to talk about birth control. It's really important that you're on the same page about when you're having kids."

Does that say something about Christians of today?

I think so. Somehow, even while fully agreeing it is God who has created every life (Psalm 100:3, 139:13-16), we quietly whisper: "Don't worry, He's sovereign, so we can use birth control as much as we'd like since His purpose will prevail anyway."


Yep, God is on the throne no matter how much we refuse to bow to the Word, but I really think we should be cautious about saying we really love Jesus if we're not willing to obey everything the Word says.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions. Is He still God? Absolutely and entirely.

However, using His character as an excuse for our own lack thereof isn't very stable ground to stand on.

If you really believe God is sovereign, why do we need birth control?

If you actually believe God is the creator of every life and that He alone has the say of when a life begins and ends, why are we still using birth control in the church of today?

If you actually mean it that you love Jesus, do you love all His creations, regardless of the convenience or inconvenience to you?

If you truly believe that your God has purpose and meaning with the way He plans your love story, then how can you not believe that He also has plans and purposes in the way He builds your family?

Questions of this nature whirl around in my head often. What kind of Christians are we becoming if we believe it's irresponsible to allow God to give baby number eight, while we throw giant baby showers for a first time mom?

Feel free to disagree with me as a person (most do when it comes to this conversation). However, I challenge you. Stop saying you believe God plans and creates each life, if you don't welcome them with open arms.

Why do people see anti-birth control views as radical, ridiculous and unnecessary? This is why.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Don't ask that question.

I'm saying it out in the open anyway.

If God is truly the Giver of life, who are we as human beings to stand in His way? Who am I as a human being to say in the face of my perfect God that He may not give me children unless it's in my timing and my quantity?


You probably clicked the link to this post thinking you'd read a cute article on Christmas with a few reflective thoughts. Sorry.

Yet I cannot really apologize. Lives are being ended every day. And no matter how many Christians (Christians!) tell me to shut up on this topic, I cannot. I cannot while even one more child dies at the use of a synthetic hormone, or device.

We aren't living like women of the Word if we see life as something that is for us to decide yay or nay on.

Why is it that I would speak up on something that "doesn't involve me?"

Because. I don't want to be a fluffy Christian, tossed about by whatever anyone says. "Oh they're a popular Christian with a well known ministry, and they say birth control is fine, so it must be." Might want to check your hermeneutics if you live off of that phraseology.

I have been made aware that lives are ended by birth control, thus I have a responsibility to respond and do something in light of what I know. So do you.

This Christmas, I hope you do get to unwrap some nice gifts you can use practically, but let's not forget that our God has called us to be advocates. He wants to give us His love for kids; He made sure His Word describes people as made in His image, and a gift from Him. Do I live that way?

Jesus came as a baby, vulnerable, and small. He is God; He did not have to come as a baby! He could have chosen to show up in all His splendor and glory, but instead, our Emmanuel came as an infant. God with us. God among us.

Our Prince of Peace came to us, little enough to fit into a manger. This Wonderful Counselor is also the Creator of the world, and the Giver of every life. Surely He who paints the skies and puts the wings to a thousand butterflies knows also when to give life and when not to. Do we trust and believe that?

When You Just Don't Feel Like One Of Those Set Apart Girls

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I sat in missions class, with my ankles crossed tightly. I was tense. With my journal out on my lap and a brightly colored pen in hand, I took extensive notes on reaching people of different backgrounds with the Gospel. As I sat in the beautiful chapel that warm summer day, one thought seemed to distract me again and again.

“You know you’re really not one of those set apart girls.”

I wanted to make some mental argument against the fact, but interactions with other ladies who seemed to be living poured-out lives made me wonder if there was something unspoken that disqualified me from being “one of them.” 

I was well aware that I had not by any means arrived to some perfected level in my walk with Jesus, but was there some expectation one had to meet, other than just being in Christ, to be considered a woman intentionally set apart for the King of kings? My experiences the previous few weeks made me wonder. I had somehow come to the conclusion that the term “set apart girl” must only apply to an elite group of Christian women who live astoundingly impressive lives. 

As days had gone by at school, I had taken note that there were certain ladies who avoided me. Something I was doing seemed to create discomfort among some people; just what it was had become a mystery to me. 

I’m too talkative. No, I need to try harder to start conversations they’ll enjoy. It’s probably my non-verbals. Don’t smile too much, but don’t frown. Stop being so energetic. Don’t speak encouragement too much, or it will be translated as flattery. Wear this. Get up at such-and-such a time each morning. Don’t be legalistic. Don’t lack discipline. You’re too pushy. Let them start the conversation. Be willing to help. Be confident. Not like that! Don’t hide, but don’t act like you have it all in the bag. 

I was trying to process everything; how do I best honor those around me? I felt extremely discouraged. It seemed like I hit a wall whenever I tried to live normally. “Maybe I just don’t fit the mold.” I would think to myself.

I’ve always been one to take too careful note of how people react. I often subconsciously study facial expressions and tones of voice. What did they truly mean by that?

According to my, probably flawed, observations, I was getting on a particular teacher’s nerves. Four ladies in leadership were made to feel less than comfortable, for whatever reason, around me. Some of my classmates looked down on me.

After a conversation with a friend I had looked up to, it had become apparent that I wasn’t quite reaching the bar. In an attempt to encourage this friend, I had caused discomfort and embarrassment. I was told that I was drawing attention to the individual instead of Jesus.

Oh, a set apart girl wouldn’t do that…. 

I looked out the chapel windows and thought, “Well, I’ll be out of their hair in just a few weeks.” It seemed like the only solution. Maybe I just needed another fresh start, since I had apparently blown this opportunity to live to the fullest.

The two months that followed were two of the darkest I have ever faced in my life. I thought through everything again and again. But it all seemed to say the same thing to my heart: you failed. 

My perspective was that I was too young, too loud, too strong in personality, too rough around the edges, too childish, and too broken for the title of “Set Apart Girl.” I had a past full of heartbreak, and it appeared that I wasn’t moving past it quickly enough. Each time I thought I was “sweeping up the broken pieces” I seemed to bump into someone else, someone more set-apart-girl-esque, and spill them all over again. 

Maybe set apart girls just don’t make these kinds of mistakes.

I felt much shame. Could I still call Amy Carmichael a hero of mine if I was so far off from her place in the endless pursuit of Jesus? Maybe I should stop saying Lillias Trotter is someone I aspire to being like since I am obviously failing at Titus 2 living. Perpetua was a much more impressive eighteen-year-old than I’ve ever been…



True Set-Apart Living


Even in the darkness of feeling unlovely and entirely wrong in nearly every facet, Jesus was present and at work in my heart. Where I had decided things were too broken in my life, after taking the nonverbal that I needed to get things together, I had given up at some level. I wouldn’t have been very likely to bring it up, but I was allowing my identity to be shaped by others’ perspective on my life. If someone I looked up to found issue with something I was doing, I immediately felt I was beyond grace. 

But it wasn’t true.

In the following months, Jesus was gently uncovering my issues and healing them. I had come to the conclusion in my heart and mind that if those in the “Set Apart Girl” ministry did not approve of me, then there was no way I was actually being shaped into a Christ-centered woman. (By the way, the ladies on the SAgirl team were kind to me!)

Jesus was exposing, however, that the only way to live a life that’s pleasing to Him was to get my eyes off of what everyone around me thought, and place my eyes on Him, and believe what He says about me. Am I living for the approval and applause of others, or do I only look to Jesus for security? 

As one writer has said, 

“I live before an audience of One. Before others I have nothing to gain, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose” (Henry Martyn). 

To truly live in a set-apart way means to live fully given to Jesus. It’s to be so taken with your heavenly Prince that all else loses its luster in comparison. I wouldn’t have had to feel insecure for even a moment if I had only seen my situation out of the lens of His Word. 

They don’t approve of me? When it comes down to it, in view of eternity, that doesn’t matter very much. The psalmist in Psalm 119 had this priority: “Thou art my portion, O Lord” (vs. 57). It’s not other Christians’ opinions of us that secure us before the Father; it’s only Jesus (Romans 5:1, 6-11, Ephesians 2:1-10). We’re not saved by someone we look up to telling us that we’re doing great or vice versa. My strength and security today comes only from the One who rescued my soul. He is the one who will keep me and sanctify me, therefore I have nothing to fear. He will not forsake me; He has begun a work within me, and our Jesus never forsakes or forgets the work of his hands.

I’m making someone feel uncomfortable? What if instead of panicking that I’ve ruined my relationship with that friend, I took the position of a servant, and sought out how I could better care for them? In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to serve others the way Jesus did:

 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:5-8).

Instead of hopelessly assuming the friendship is over, what if I was willing to pour out for this individual? Would I be willing to give them space if they need it, or help them out if they ask? 


Being a set apart woman is not about having it all together. It’s not about doing every single thing perfectly, never making a mistake, not having a personality, having every book of the Bible memorized, using fancier words, cooking like Martha Stewart, always being out of your bed by three o’clock in the morning, or being a carbon copy of an impressive Christian you know. 

It’s legalism to assume that we are somehow earning greater favor in Jesus’ eyes by having all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Jesus would not have had to die if we could gain acceptance on our own before God. I am safe and unshaken in my daily life, not because Cassidy is just looking oh-so-spiritual this morning, but because Jesus has taken my place. He is unchanging. No matter what happens to me, and no matter how many areas of my life still need greater sanctification, I will never ever, ever be abandoned. 

My identity is not in my mistakes and mishaps.

My identity is in Christ alone.

Since I am in Christ, I know that He has set me apart for Himself (Psalm 4:3). I did not receive this title of set apart by saving up my behavioral allowance; it is a gift to me from Jesus. He lived the set-apart life, and because my position is in Him, I am robed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). I have grace, the power to live out the life He has called me to, only through Him. It’s not in my own pockets. 

If you, as a woman, believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are a set-apart girl. All because of Jesus (and not because of you). 

“Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (Psalm 116:7-9).

Streamside Lessons

Monday, October 30, 2017


It was a beautiful fall evening. All four miles around the lake, vibrant shades of coral, red, pink, green, and brown caught my eye. It was all so breathtaking; the ground was covered with a layer of fallen leaves, each one declaring the majesty of their Maker. As I walked, I took notice of a stream. As first glance, between the strong movement of the large amount of water in a small space, it would have seemed as though someone was not keeping up their landscaping, but then I realized something.

I want my life to look just like that stream.

Such an abundance of life that it doesn’t fit in a small space. It can’t help but touch beyond the boundary of expectation, because it’s just so full. And floweth fuller every day… The dry ground, though it appears the same, a touch reveals it has been affected. The hard summer-scorched earth is muddy, and is being revived with every flow of the body of water. The narrow bridge will also be taken under too, if the stream flows over any more.

Can I say in truth that I am satisfied to overflowing in Jesus?

I want my life to be one that is so full of His living water that I can’t help but splash it on my neighbor. What if even the passer-by had to notice His fragrance from the words I had spoken, even if it was just about the happenings of the day? When needy people try to push buttons, imagine the impact one overflowing with the King of kings; Jesus is sufficient for even the most rude, insulting people.

He has the right words for the woman at the nursing home with the frustrated remarks, whom I was assigned to many a morning. He has the the word in season for the weary soul. Our Jesus gifts the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness. For the liberal woman, deemed by some as unreachable, as she advocates for abortion outside the Downtown clinic; He wants to speak words of hope and healing even to this one.

Am I content to sit here, comfortably in Christ while a world around me dies and passes into an eternity separated from their only Hope? I hope not. Just as the stream continued to fill beyond the brim, so He wants my soul to be. Discontented to be complacent. Unwilling that the dry ground be unwatered only to wither up and die. Defiant against the human tendency to abide at-ease in my personal bubble.

No, He is too worthy.

Today. That woman who pulled out in front of me too abruptly on the road. She is loved by the Lord of lords; how much am I loving her? Because, oh Cassidy, if you are in Christ, then all the grace necessary to treat her with kindness is available to you. It’s available to those who recognize that they’re not enough, and depend fully on the only One who could ever be enough. When memories of mistreatment from the past surface in my mind, whom is this about? Is it all about me and how I felt, or is it all about a Savior who is entirely sufficient in my greatest moments of trial, heartbreak, and sorrow?


Don’t be a puddle! Be a stream, turning into a lake, that can’t help but outdo the ocean simply because Jesus is limitless. He hasn’t drawn the line in that relationship with the awkward older lady at the grocery store. Thus, if the vessel will surrender and obey, Living Water will be poured over her--she will be given an impression of who Jesus is, even as I set the produce on the checkout counter. Is Jesus impatient, snappy, not oh-so-present, and drifting off, thinking of other things? Or is He the one who serves, forgetting Himself and saving the sinner?

He wants to grow this Water in my heart; I haven’t exhausted His Word, nor His ability to reach those deemed impossible. It all starts with Him. And it all starts with today. Let His perspective infect and correct your tinted view of others.

How they are loved, desired, and wanted by Him.

Yet somehow I sometimes allow myself to get by with a quick little prayer of, “Well, if it’s your will for that person to come to know you as their personal Savior, then I ask that they would.”

If?

My eyes do not capture His grand vision for redemption if I am willing to be tossed about as a wave of the sea. “It’s not good timing to share the Gospel. They’re busy”, “I am tired. Plus I am the wrong person to share Jesus with them; this patient doesn’t even like me and keeps complaining about everything I do!”, “This woman needs me to talk with her about her options as a teen mom, not about Him. If I don’t share the right resources with her, she could end up walking into the clinic and having an abortion.”

Do I live on my justifications or excuses, or am I so excited about Jesus that I can’t help but share Him with every person before me. If I’m as in love with Him as I keep saying, then there ought to be a different response to sharing Him. What if I couldn’t help it but show them Him--in the way I took care of the dog this morning, with handling well the rough situations that come in working in healthcare, in the circumstances of life that would translate despair to most people--am I showing the sufficiency of my Living Waters (Jesus)?

I don’t want to be a dead sea. Ever receiving His fullness, yet passively overlooking the opportunity to pour out.

Give up your raindrop of refreshment, and watch your Jesus turn it to a puddle as you give. See Him take your puddle and splash it all over those who have always bothered you, in the most refreshing rain they have experienced, as your small spot of Water takes up more ground, morphing into a stream. The lake isn’t far. His ocean of love knocks. Are you willing to give it up? Will I say goodbye to what I deem my comfort so that, in His worthiness, the Prince of peace might reign in more hearts?

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from His heart.’” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him….) // John 7:37-39

The Truth About Our Father

Monday, October 9, 2017



“But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to His name: extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His name JAH, and rejoice before Him. A Father to the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out those which are bound with chains.”
Psalm 68:3-6b

A Father.

What comes to your mind when you hear that term?

Some of us smile immediately, thinking of the growing up years, sitting in dad’s lap, reading a book. While others of us would feel better if such a name did not apply to our God, as flashbacks and pain swell up within.  No matter what you have thought of fatherhood in the past, I fully guarantee that you have not plumbed the depths of this awe striking part of the nature of our God.

David had an insight on who our Heavenly Father is:
“Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all’” (1 Chronicles 29:10-11).

Look at all the things this passage tells us our Father has sway over: the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, the majesty, all things in heaven and on earth, and the Kingdom. We know that we are never neglected, forgotten, left, over-corrected, abused, or hammered over the head by our Father.


Not only did He skillfully create us for Himself, purposefully guiding and protecting our lives from the womb, but He also pursued us when spat in His face and lived in rebellion to Him. We were that prodigal child that brought the tears, the aches, and the pain to a Father who had always been just and loving--never once doing us wrong. Having broken every single law of our Father’s and falling altogether short of His glory, yet He pursued us. In our entirely ugly, miry-clay covered lives, He had a plan of redemption. A plan to restore us unto Himself.

He drew us out of many waters, and brought us near at the greatest possible price--the price of His very own Son. Dying what is thought to be the most brutal death possible, Jesus stayed at that barbaric cross until the work was entirely finished.

Let us not forget that our Father has never forsaken us, and today He bids us come and die. He is worthy--He has seen us unto the second birth, a birth in Christ--and He desires all to be His children.

“The Lord Jehovah does not delay His promises as people consider delay, but He is patient for your sakes, and because He is not willing that any person would perish, but that every person would come to conversion” (2 Peter 3:9 ABPE).

--
This devotional was written for Ellerslie Discipleship Training's Always Be Ready Night. It was also featured in the devotional book "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."

The First Week of Ellerslie

Thursday, June 8, 2017


It's kind of crazy that I've been here at Ellerslie for five days already! A lot has happened! On June 3rd I arrived at the Denver Airport, and was greeted by two of the sweet staff members: Kimberly and Sarah. I was so excited; it all felt so surreal! I had prayed and dreamed of this place for years, and at long last, it was happening! That morning, I rode the shuttle from the airport to Windsor; our drive included many beautiful mountain views! Not something I see in Michigan every day!! When we got to the campus, I was taken into my dorm room where I met my roommates: Sarah, Janetta, and later Heather. I am so thankful for each of these sweet ladies I have the privilege of living with! Sarah is a Practicum D2 student (which, in case you don't know, is one of the other, higher up, programs they have at Ellerslie). She's radiant, so thoughtful, and made me feel beyond welcome when I came in. Janetta is from Kansas, and loves Jesus so much. She has been such an inspiration to me; during almost every free time she can be found in His Word! And Heather is pretty wonderful too!! She has a sweet, quiet personality, and deeply, deeply cares for each person around her; she has encouraged me so much!

Jesus has really been drawing me closer to Himself through this time here. I can't completely describe it.... But one little song has a fragment into it:

"My heart responds with Holy, Holy!"


The first evening we had a picnic on the lawn by the dorms:

On Tuesday, they told us about the schedule of how we would be reading through the New Testament 2 times in these three months, and the other exciting assignments to be done!


It's seriously beautiful around here....




Just to confuse you, we'll jump backwards. On Sunday we had our campus tour:


My tour group :)


Then we had our ID photos taken:



Here are a few common sights for the Ellerslie student:








Banquet night was so wonderful! We got to meet all our teachers and hear more about the vision behind Ellerslie:








Coffee House 29 is a GREAT place to go, if you're ever in Windsor. I've already been there twice!












[I know right about now you're thinking how you should come to Ellerslie too! You should click here and totally go yourself....]