Carrie Prejean, Miss USA's First runner-up with Pastor Miles McPherson
Carrie Prejean made headlines at the Miss USA Pageant last weekend. As a member of the Rock Church, Carrie is here today to join Pastor Miles for a special message.
A Decision to Stand
Carrie Prejean and Miles Mcpherson at the Rock
Carrie opened by sharing her background and the process of competing for the title of Miss USA. In the final round of five contestants (out of an original fifty-one), Carrie was on stage for her final question. She chose a judge's name from a jar - Perez Hilton. His question began with the fact that four states had passed a law supporting same-sex marriage, and asked if she thought the other states should follow suit. In reply, Carrie said that she believed marriage should only be between a man and a woman. At the end, Carrie walked away as the first runner-up to Miss USA.
And then the fallout began. She soon found out that a fight had broken out after the competition. A supportive sign displaying her picture had been torn up, verbal attacks were flying at her family and friends, and that someone was "out to get" her. Carrie logged onto YouTube and found her answer to Hilton's question all over the internet and attacks on her statement.
Carrie logged onto YouTube and found her answer to Hilton's question all over the internet and attacks on her statement.
A flurry of media activity began. Access Hollywood requested an interview and she was invited to New York City immediately to talk to Matt Lauer on the Today Show.
Carrie said she did not want to go to New York. All of her bags had gone home ahead of her so she had no luggage, no wardrobe and no makeup. She was looking forward to going home and putting the pageant behind her. But she felt like God wanted her to go, so she did.
During the flight, Carrie turned to Scripture and found a verse in 2 Timothy, ".. and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (3:12) She knew an hour of persecution had entered her life. Burdened by the imminent interviews and attention, Carrie suddenly felt very alone and afraid. She was about to be confronted by the national media about her beliefs. What would she say? In an outpour of tears and prayers, she asked God to confirm her decision, to simply give her a sign that she was making the right choice.
God provided the sign as soon as she arrived. Little did she know that Pastor Miles and his wife had just arrived at JFK. Thanks to Carrie's supporters, they got word that Carrie was there and needed support. Carrie opened her phone to find her a personal text message from Pastor Miles, saying that he was proud of her and wanted to see her.
Pastor Miles met with Carrie, prayed with her, coached her, and accompanied her on every interview while she was in New York. God had certainly answered Carrie's prayer. Although this is only the beginning of the scrutiny and persecution Carrie faces for what happened at the pageant, she learned that God would be there for her whenever she stood for her faith.
Carrie in the Story of Esther
In front of the Rock Church family, Pastor Miles read from the Book of Esther. Esther is Jewish woman who wins a beauty contest in a pagan land and becomes queen. She soon discovers a secret plot to kill all of the Jews. As queen, she is urged by a messenger of Mordecai to go to the king and plead for the fate of her people. She is deeply distressed, for not only is she a Jew herself, but there is a law that any woman who comes to the king unbidden shall be put to death. Here is Mordecai's response:
Our goal must not be to offend people, but rather to speak the truth in love.
And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:13
A distressed Esther sends word back for the Jews to fast on her behalf, for she has decided to go, to stand up for her people. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish! Esther 4:16b
Pastor Miles drew a parallel with Carrie's story. Carrie's decision to hold true to God's word at the Miss USA pageant has changed her life and brought on a multitude of critics.
There are parallels to our stories as well. We are all faced with moments when we can bow to what's popular in our culture or choose the truth and suffer the consequences. Our goals must include speaking the truth in love.
The next time you find yourself in a similar position, remember these five points:
S.T.A.N.D. for Your Faith
STAND for Your Faith
1) Stare-down courage. Esther 4:15-16
If we are to stand up for our beliefs, we must be willing to stare intimidation in the face and say, "I am going to do what's right."
Carrie was very intimidated by the media attention that followed her comment, but God held and supported her by sending Pastor Miles, whose experience and wisdom helped and guided her.
2) Trust in the truth. Esther 4:13
We should live according to the truth of God's Word alone.
Critics say that if Carrie had really wanted to win the crown of Miss USA, she would have answered the question differently. But at what cost? Carrie knew deep down that answering truthfully would raise cultural criticism, but she also knew she must be true to herself and to God.
3) Accept God's sovereign provision. Esther 4:16
When you are faced with these tough challenges, God Himself will provide for you. Carrie was amazed at how, in her darkest hour as she felt utterly alone and afraid, God provided her pastor to act as a father figure and support her in every interview she faced.
4) Never fear man over God. Esther 4:11
Man will attack you, but as long as you stick by the truth, you have integrity and are right with God.
If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31b
If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31b
Carrie has learned that if you fear man, you may get the crown, but God has a bigger crown than any man can give you. Don't seek man's approval; God's approval is the only approval that matters.
5) Die to self. Esther 4:16
Your life is not about you and doesn't belong to you. God has a plan that is bigger than you. You're not here to save your life, but to give it as Jesus did. Just as Carrie was faced with an opportunity to stand up for her faith, each one of us has opportunities to stand up for God as well - at work, in our communities, etc. We must remember, just as Carrie found out, that no experience is so bad that God can't use it to make an impact for his kingdom.
Take a stand for what you believe. Don't be afraid to stand up for the truth. God entrusted people like you and me with his Gospel. We are the ones that must carry it out!
Carrie ended by thanking everyone for their prayers and support, and for those in the gay community who have expressed their support and respect for Carrie's opinion. Please continue to pray for protection for Carrie and all who stand for truth, and pray for God to have an impact through them for His kingdom.