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on recent events, grace, standing up, and truth

I probably have the most neglected blog on the planet.  I’ve been wanting to come and share my heart here for a while. It’s been a difficult season and my emotions have been all over the place. I needed to make sure that the words I share here will come out in grace and honesty—honoring my God above all else.

If you are a part of the online community that I’m in, you’ll be aware that there has been a lot happening in the past few weeks.  World Vision announced a policy change and just like that, the church divided.  One group stood up boldly and shouted from the rooftops their conservative evangelical stand, while the other group yelled just as loudly their more progressive opinion on the matter.
I sat at my computer watching the whole ugly mess unfold.  People who I love picked their side and very vocally told their world where they stood on issues of sin, morality, grace, the interpretation of God’s Word, and everything in between.  Some did so with much grace and humility, others hurled anger, shame, sarcasm, and accusations at the body of Christ that I love.
These recent events have caused me to examine my own heart and my place in this crazy world.  I have had to seek my Father’s face on where I stand as the Church heads for even greater shake ups as we slide deeper and deeper into a miry pit of compromise.  It is truly only by His grace and mercy and because of His beautiful Church that I am who I am today.  
You see, if it were not for the Church and God’s amazing grace, I would not be where I am to today (I cannot even imagine where I would be!).  I came to accept Jesus as my Savior in 1995.  I was 23 years old and living life the only way I knew how.  I had fallen into a pattern of seeking love and affirmation in all the wrong places.  I had no idea who I really was.  My life seemed to be an endless quest to find that one thing that could satisfy my soul and the desire of my heart to know that I was loved, accepted, and beautiful in someone’s eyes (anyone’s eyes!).  My journey to belong led me from one relationship to the next—always looking for someone (or something) that would heal every hurt and calm the restlessness that felt like it would consume me.
I had reached a point where I could not have felt more alone, more desperate, and more ashamed of who and what I had become.  Faking it till I made it had worked for a very long time. 
Until God (by His grace) brought me to a place of absolute brokenness—a place where I could either continue in my sin and shame or turn away.
One South African winter’s night, in sheer desperation, I found myself sitting in a church pew. It was one of those spur of the moment, my-car-just-ended-up-there moments. Beyond broken and struggling to make sense of the complete mess I had gotten myself into, I could not see any way out. I hadn’t been into a church building for many years (other than for weddings).  Confused and needing strength [that I did not have] to get out of the pit that I had allowed myself to fall into, I turned to the one thing that I thought was my very last resort…God.
“My very present help in time of need.”  ~~ Psalm 46:1
With shaking, sweaty hands and tearful eyes, I sat quietly at the back of the church and prayed, “God, if you really are real, please help me!  Show me who you have created me to be. Help me to be so much more than what I have become.”
And in His grace and mercy, and His heart that was for me, He used a young man in ways that he probably still doesn’t know to this day (thank you, Pastor Rory!).  From the front of the sanctuary came a guy who took me to a quiet place and prayed with me.
“God has a plan and a purpose for your life if you just allow Him in, Adéye. Are you willing?”
One simple prayer that changed my life forever.
Yes, I was willing!
I cried out to God that night. In my filthy rags I came before the throne of grace and for the first time I understood what it meant to repent—to turn away from everything that held me captive in this life.
One night where God used someone to speak words of LIFE to me.  Words that didn’t condemn.  Words that refused to leave me in my filthy mess.
Words that called me so much higher.
To a place where, for the first time, I believed that I could be so much more than this.
I have thought about my beginnings of my walk with Jesus so much recently.
My life changed because somebody believed that, in God, I could turn my life around…
…and that it would be good!
It was on wobbly legs—falling down, getting back up again—that I began what would become the most amazing, most stretching, most challenging, most rewarding journey of my life..
A journey that would bring me a God-honoring husband from a faraway land.
A journey that would teach me that the things of this world will never satisfy.
A journey that would take every hurt and every broken piece of my heart…
…and breathe new life into it.
A journey that would put in me a heart for others who are hurting…
…and a desperate desire to not leave them where they are.
But to love them unconditionally to a place of believing that God desires so much more for their lives.
Because every step to a life of fullness in Christ begins with a repentant heart.
I fell in love with God’s glorious Church that night almost twenty years ago.  Like, head over heals in love.  When Anthony came into my life in 1996, I began to grow in my faith even more (Think new girl in Methodist Church meets crazy, on fire, hand-raising guy.  We were a very mismatched pair—only God!). With his masters degree in theology, Anthony began to teach me about God’s Word and I developed a hunger for a deeper understanding of what the Bible was saying.  Much of it is still confusing to me (yeah, I still struggle with those first five books of the Old Testament!), but to this day I read books written by incredible people to whom God has given such an understanding of His Word.
As Anthony and I have traveled around the world and been involved in many ministries and many different churches and denominations, I can truly say that God’s people are amazing. We have friends all over the globe—most who we will probably only see in heaven again (I can hardly wait!).
I love God’s people passionately! The Father’s army pour out their lives sacrificially for the sake of each another.  God’s people reach down and love the sinner, the hater, the hurter, the abuser, the addict, the lost, the lonely, the broken and the needy (just like me!)…and they call them UP and HIGHER—toward an amazing grace that our hearts cannot fathom.  Loving like Jesus did, the Church that I know never leaves the lost where they are—they welcome, embrace, love, and point them to the One who promised, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  ~~  John 3:16
God’s people love and cherish and go to the ends of the earth to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
God’s beautiful people.   They believe the best, hope for the best, and hold closely the words of Jesus for each one of us sinners (no matter what the sin!), “Go and sin no more.” ~~  John 8:11
Over the past couple of weeks my own deeply conservative values have been questioned as I have watched God’s bride (His precious, precious BELOVED) in the firing line. I can never believe anything less than God’s Word.  And I can never accept anything less than the fact that His beautiful Church is simply glorious (yes, of course, with faults and flaws—but for the most part striving to be all that Jesus called her to be). I have wept seeing the accusations, the insults, and the harsh judgment hurled at the Father’s beloved bride (how Jesus must weep too!) when they stand up for truth, righteousness, and what the Word of God says. This is not the Church that I love!  It is a movement away from TRUTH and everything that the Bible stands for. And I can have no part of anything that does not line up with what is God’s truth.   
As for me and my house?  Yes, we’ll continue to serve the Lord with all of our hearts.  We’re seeking, listening, and running our race with perseverance.  We’ll continue to teach our precious children to never compromise (even when it’s hard), but to stand firm as we head deeper into troubled times as those who proclaim the name of Jesus yearn for His glorious return.
We’ll hang onto every word that Jesus said because they are LIFE to us. We’ll strive to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
And we’ll never embrace any theology (emerging church/hyper-grace/progressive gospel/liberal theology/post-evangelical or whatever) other than what is already written in black and white.
We have tasted and we have seen that the LORD is good (Psalm 34:8).  
We will fail and we will sin each and every day, but we know that His grace is sufficient to catch us when we fall. We know that His Church too will fail, will unintentionally hurt, will mess up and will once again try its darndest to do things right.  We’re all flawed and human.   
But we’ll continue to believe with all our hearts that God’s bride is a beautiful thing.
I would never, ever, ever scorn, spurn, ridicule, make fun of, or condemn any groom’s bride.  That’s someone that HE loves.  And much less, I would never think of such a thing about the bride of my very Savior Himself.