Archives For Uncategorized

Preaching to Yourself

April 12, 2014

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.”

“The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. . . You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope you in God”—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way, and then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and . . . what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do, then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.

Martin Lloyd Jones as quoted from Spiritual Depression in John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Made for More

April 7, 2014

18596375

Over a year ago when Hannah Anderson began talking about her work in progress, there was no title, no beginning or end, there was only the whispering ripple of “We need more.” Which is interesting because what Hannah has accomplished in her new book, “Made for More,” is less about more and more about less. It is about stripping away the trappings of stereotypes and unbiblical constructs, tearing down the self-made idols of motherhood and husbandry. Her book is an invitation to live in God’s Image and it sets a fairer table and finer feast than almost any book on gender I have read.

She begins by walking her reader through creation—and not  the creation of man and woman, the imago dei, but the creation of a new believer, that tender sprout of life bursting within. The issues of faith that are wrestled with in tears and pain, and the birth of realization, the a ha! of salvation—these are also the things we wrest with in our souls as we discover who we are at our core. Not what physical attributes we bear or circumstantial constructs the world has given us, but the actual core of us, that deep and profound moment when we, like Adam, say, “At last!”

Sadly the “At last!” happens for fewer and fewer of us, and so Hannah makes it her aim throughout all of Made for More to draw the reader’s eyes back again and again to the beauty of the image of God. It is not a book about biblical womanhood, it is not a book about how to be better, purer, or more of anything but an image bearer of the Most High. It is a book about humans flourishing under the great weight and light burden of God’s design.

This is not a book for women alone, and in fact I hope many men will read this book. Toward that aim, I am giving away three copies of Made for More. If you’d like to receive a copy of Hannah Anderson’s book, enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Link Love

March 26, 2014 — Leave a comment

Five Essential Benedictine Values for Writers: You have to kill these things that seem so wonderful when you first thought of them or wrote them, but that don’t belong. I have a phrase that I first thought of in 1970, and I am still looking for a place to put it.

Phelps, Driscoll, & Gothard: I’m not trying to silence anyone. I’m not trying to shame anyone. I am trying to consider how our discourse, particularly online, might be helped if we took to heart Solomon’s warning on grabbing passing dogs by the ears and Jesus’ warning about specks and planks. I am hoping it will begin with me.

Nickel Creek’s new album A Dotted Line is available for a limited time streaming on NPR’s First Listen. Give it a listen.

How to Fill Your Life With Joy: I think everybody wants the silver-bullet, the thing that makes sanctification move like a superhighway rather than the dirt path that it is.

All of Christ for All of Life: In Christ, there is grace to get through the stinkin’ day. And whether we do so by the skin of our teeth or bounding and leaping with joy upon joy, our souls are united to him day by day and age to age

 

Kristin is a friend from my church who speaks and does comedy improv for a living. Her dry humor is always a surprise and a delight, and I promise you, she really does practice what she preaches here. Enjoy!

72778_10150301833325696_1817731_n

I own an eight-year-old light blue Toyota Highlander. It’s a reliable car, even if it isn’t a lime green Cube. (My dream car. Don’t judge.)

A few years ago I began leading a home group for high school girls through my church. It was my first time volunteering in a way that required a commitment to investing in the lives of others.

At the beginning of each semester I gave an open ended offer to pick up or drop off anyone needing a ride to or from home group or church. If I’m honest, I offered more out of a strange leader-ish obligation than I did a desire to drive teens around.

Many of the girls already had driver’s licenses and owned cooler cars than mine (though none were cooler than a lime green Cube), but during the first year, as our group grew from six to eight to 12 and finally settled around 20ish young ladies, a week rarely went by that I didn’t pick up or drop someone off.

I have three rules in my car: no country music, please don’t bury yourself in your phone, and if it’s on the floor you may put your feet on it or kick it out of the way. (Keeping my car clean is an uphill battle. Cars are a bit like human hearts. They get messy fast if you don’t consistently purge them of junk. And that’s probably both the deepest and cheesiest thing I’ve ever written.)

I had various expectations and assumptions about how student ministry might go, but I definitely didn’t expect my car to be so instrumental in ministering to teens.

Away from the presence of peers, there was no need to try and say the right thing or impress anyone. There was only the time between point A and point B and silence to fill. Questions were asked, doubts expressed, sins confessed, hurts shared, joys celebrated, and my very ordinary car became an unlikely sanctuary for teenagers needing a moment of vulnerability.

My car is where God reminded me that He’s mighty to save—and curious, narcissistic, goofy, selfish, insecure, shy, rebellious, awkward teenagers are part of His remnant.

After several weeks of driving one young lady home, listening to her struggles and answering her questions as best I could, I got to see the burden of the world lift from her shoulders as she realized Jesus wasn’t just a man in a story, but her personal Savior.

My car is where I learned teenagers are ready for harder theological truths. They need these deeper truths. Desperately. Our culture constantly pumps them full of lies; lies that can’t be fought with books about self-esteem and posters about chasing your dreams. They can be fought only with the transformative power of the Holy Spirit and the freeing power of the gospel.

Lastly, my car is where I realized how much I needed God. I’ve never prayed more desperately for the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom, discernment, and grace than when messy sin got brought to light in my messy car.

Last year my high school students graduated and I defected to middle school ministry, where I currently lead a pack of wonderfully precocious 6th grade girls.

Eleven year olds, however, are much, much (insert infinity much’s) different than 11th graders, and the car conversations have taken on a new dynamic. Sometimes we talk about favorite foods. Sometimes it’s listening to theories about why they think we’ll all ride unicorns in heaven. Sometimes they rebelliously sing country songs or try sneaking my radio to a country music station, which means I have to exercise godly discipline and make them walk the rest of the way home. (We live in the suburbs. It’s safe.)

Someone once told me youth ministry is all about sowing seeds. It often feels like conversations about “little things” aren’t doing anything. But, tending to and caring about the little things (which are often the “big things” to a young girl) yields conversations about deeper truths.

Seeing God bring fruit out of a something as simple as offering a ride home has encouraged my own soul. In moments where I’m tempted to believe that nothing I do makes a difference, I remember that I serve a God who uses ordinary people with ordinary cars to achieve His extraordinary will.

I pray God continues using my car in youth ministry. I also selfishly pray that someday these conversations will take place in a lime green Cube, but I’ve accepted that I may have to wait until heaven to drive my dream car.

Only then I won’t need one because we’ll all be riding unicorns.

Kristin is a writer, speaker, and comic from Dallas. Her first book, “The Smart Girl’s Guide to God, Guys and the Galaxy,” a humorous advice book for teen girls, hits stores in April. She enjoys deep conversations, Chipotle, and deep conversations about Chipotle. You can find her on Twitter @Kristinweb

I listened to Rich Mullins for the whole of seventeen hours on a road trip recently. I drove across the America he loved and wrote about, the America he was driving across when he went home to His God and Friend.

He was a pastor poet and I wept when he died. I was sixteen and knew nothing of death or how it would visit my own home just a few years later. Life seemed invincible for my best friend and me, but that autumn night we wept on the floor of my bedroom while the local radio station played Go Out Like Elijah. We tried to make sense of fiery chariots and Jeep Cherokees, but death doesn’t make sense, and I don’t think it is meant to.

I have had many teachers in my life and I remember them all by name or lesson, but of them all, Rich Mullins has been the constant. He taught me that theology is found in winter wheat and pheasants show us God is on His throne. Rich taught me Jesus is unimpressed with our houses or treasures and faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine.

I forget to preach the gospel to myself often enough—especially in times like the past few weeks when my soul has felt the battering and bruising of life and all its circumstances. But Rich preaches it to me still.

His book An Arrow Pointing to Heaven was as aptly named as any I know. That guy pointed and still points to heaven more than almost anyone I’ve encountered. Sometimes I ask the Lord for a fraction of his mantle, that modern barefooted prophet.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 2.40.11 PM

If you came here looking for gossip, this is not where you’ll find it. I alluded to a few things in my recent post on Same Sex Attraction and Delaying Marriage, so consider these thoughts just a continuation of that post.

First, I want to say that I bear no ill will toward my parents in any way. Hebrews 12:10 says, “Your fathers disciplined you as it seemed best,” and whatever that verse means for you, for me it means I can trust my parents did what they thought best. They did not intend harm toward me or my siblings in the schooling or spiritual choices they made for our family. That does not mean we were not harmed, only that I know they were doing what they thought best.

Second, I want to say that God is not a wasteful God. He does not pile up the scraps of our lives and bemoan the loss. He is a careful artist and potter, shaping and shifting, knitting and building, crafting those made in His image to be more and more like Him. He is careful and attentive. He does not waste experiences or difficulties or joys or pains. Every single moment of my life has been held in His capable hands. I see that more today than I ever have before and I trust Him.

Now, let’s talk about homeschooling and sex scandals

If you were a part of the homeschooling revolution of the 80s and 90s, then you were most likely a child of someone who came of age in the 60s and 70s. These were the hypnotic, drug hazed years of rock n roll, hippies, bra-burning, Woodstock, and the Jesus Movement. These were people who knew how to sin big—and who came to Jesus big. For most of our parents, even if they were not part of those movements, they were influenced by them—for better or worse.

As any parent, and especially ones new to faith, would do, they protected their young often to the point of over-protecting. They banned rock music, R rated movies (or PG13 if you were my parents); they monitored clothing choices not only for modesty, but also for looking too much like the world; they monitored friendships—especially friendships between boys and girls (more on that in the aforementioned post).

Folks, I have stories I find laughable now, but then? In the moment? Rage inducing stories. It was tough to be a child in that atmosphere. We were ruled by the fear of what might become of us. There was little grace in our communities—in fact, it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that the word grace ever entered my vocabulary as something other than a girl’s name.

These parents intended to protect, and they did, but drawing boundary lines close around your daughter still does not protect her from herself. Naming things as off limits to your son does not keep him from delving into the darkness in his own heart.

You can monitor modesty and measure hemlines, but you cannot moderate the temperature of your child’s heart. You can eliminate songs with beats, but you cannot temper the beating of your child’s heart for artistry. You can talk about not defrauding the hearts of boys or girls, but you cannot control the trigger in their hearts that jumps when they feel chemistry.

The problem is, for many and most of these homeschooling parents, they tried to do just that.

Full disclosure for a moment here

I was not simply a homeschooled kid. My family brushed shoulders with some of the upper echelon of the homeschool movement of the 90s. My parents produced an award winning book for homeschoolers and I spent most of my youth surrounded by the most deeply entrenched in the movement. We were taking over the world, one homeschool convention at a time.

Within these homeschool circles, because there was much protection, there was much trust with likeminded individuals (I remember being disciplined and rebuked often by other parents in my family’s circle), and kids were free to roam among their likeminded peers. There was a common habit of putting the older children in charge of the younger children—but all of us still just children. And all of us bit with the curiosity that forbidden fruit offers. I had my first encounter with sexuality when I was 10 years old. I cannot even remember all the times my peers were either accused of sexual curiosity, abuse, or simply “going too far.” It was epidemic—and still never talked about.

Natural curiosity lies abed in everyone. We all want to know about things. All sorts of things. How they work, if they work, who knows how to make them work, and if they’ll work for us. For many of these homeschoolers though, the questions about sex and relationships were squelched—even the good ones.

You can protect your kids from almost anything, but if you don’t teach them that their greatest threat is self and the sinfulness that lies inside them, they’ll be surprised by it every time.

Curiosity kills the cat—and sometimes the mouse too.

In the past few years more and more allegations of sexual abuse or assault within conservative movements has come to light (SGM, ATI, BJU, PHC, and far more).

Friends, we should not be surprised.

I believe that much of the sexual abuse and scandal that’s coming to light these days is directly related to the sin of legalism. It was Eve telling the serpent, “God said we could not eat or touch.” There was so much fear surrounding the other things in life (music, clothing, doctrine, even food), that to broach the subject of sex just seemed almost other-worldly.

We added to the gospel, to the truest things God ever said. We got knowledge of good and evil, but for many in the homeschooling movement, we prided ourselves on keeping the knowledge inside and the evil locked safely out. We never let ourselves realize the heart contains all the knowledge and evil it needs to have things go very, very badly indeed.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.44.17 PM

Note: These are just my thoughts and commentary on a bit of my own experience. I believe most parents who spearheaded these movements realize their error at this point—and most of us, the product of these movements, certainly realize it.

The solution is the whole gospel—and to flee whenever you catch even a drift of another gospel. There are “other” gospels everywhere—pet theologies, dogmatic arguments, dramatic treatises on any subject offering the real truth and real life, but Christ alone is it. Christ alone.

If you find yourself heading into a belief system that places more emphasis on any outworking of the gospel, than it does on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, flee.

How to Be Brought Low

February 24, 2014 — 1 Comment

They say if you ask for patience, God will give you all sorts of opportunity to exercise yours. The same goes for humility, I suppose, even if you are naturally bent to the sort of hemming and hawing that comes off as humility in most situations.

I’ve been asking for my pride to be brought low for about as long as I can remember asking for anything. I was knit together with able hands and quick mind, and I’m predisposed to think I can do everything. These served me poorly in my childhood, and serve me well now. Let that be a reminder to all you frustrated parents: a strong will takes feet farther than a weak one. Don’t despise your young, let them spread out and test their knitted strength. God made them that way.

But a stubborn will does not a humble person make and so I ask, I plead, I hem and I haw: God, take this cup from me.

But He doesn’t. Not the way I expect He will at least.

He is surprising me in recent weeks, turning over tables in the temple of my heart, places I’ve sold out and set up shop. He is bringing tears to my eyes at inopportune moments and taking precious things from my hands. With each tumble, with each fall, with each teardrop, He asking me with the tenderness of a Father and Friend: will you trust me now?

Pride is the absence of trust. This anvil beats against my can-doness, shifting the hardened metal of my heart. I am chief of conservatives, believing in bootstraps and pulling oneself up by whatever means possible. I am chief of sinners, living according to the law of the flesh because it seems easier.

Brought low, brought lower, down, deep and downer, I’m hands up and knee deep in my own slop and He gets down there with me, doesn’t pull me out but shows me something cleaner: Himself.

If that doesn’t humble me, I don’t know what will.

God, decrease me. De-crease me. Straighten me out, without wrinkle, without blemish. Present me blameless, not because I am, but because you are.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Makerness

February 17, 2014 — 2 Comments

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I’m a first generation college graduate, and the only one of my seven siblings to have completed secondary or tertiary education. Growing up, neither of my parents had college degrees. My mother put herself through a degree in early childhood education for the past several years—the irony being is she is the last person who I think needs it. She’s now working on her graduate degree.

The reason I say that is because my hard-working parents taught me the value of using my hands from my early childhood. Laziness was not permitted in our home and using the word “bored” was as near to cursing as any of us would ever get.

From the moment we woke up until the dinner dishes were done, and the candles lit for evening read-aloud, our hands were kept busy.

My father is a gifted artist, talented writer, and has been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember, working hard, long and late hours. He has always been inventing some new gadget or brainstorming some crazy idea. We never went hungry.

My mother quilted, baked, created lesson plans, gardened, refinished furniture, and always encouraged us to work hard at the things that gave us joy. Since my parents divorce, she has built her own successful business—while putting herself through school.

I’m grateful for my college degrees. I worked hard for them, paid for them myself, supplemented with scholarships. In no way am I discouraging a college education, but I know my best education came from watching my parents work hard. Start businesses. Give homemade gifts. Make things from scratch. Look at what others had done and decide to make it themselves—only better.

Whenever people ask me how I learned to sew or write or design or crochet or cook or make flower arrangements or make a home or anything, I tell them I taught myself, which is true. But not entirely.

The whole truth is my parents taught me to value hard work.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Paul encourages the Thessalonians like this,

“[We urge you] to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
I Thessalonians 4:11-12

Don’t under value the work of the hands. Teach your kids to work hard when they are young, let them puzzle their way through diagrams and difficult words, give them tasks that are too difficult for them, encourage them in the work that gives them joy. But don’t let them simply value work because it gives them or you joy, teach them to value it because it gives the original Maker joy. Teach your children they are literally imaging God when they work hard, carefully, with attention to detail.

All of life is a muscle waiting to be worked. We bring glory to our Maker when we reflect His Makerness. His creativity. His near constant work.

Crouching at Your Door

February 15, 2014

A few weeks ago I alluded that I’ve been dealing with latent sin and spiritual laziness, but what I really meant is there’s something I can’t shake and it’s as ambiguous as the words above: I don’t know what I’ve been struggling with. I’ve just been struggling.

I’ve been struggling to master my thoughts. Struggling to press in to accountability. Struggling to not grow lazy in the light of grace. Struggling to hear God, trust Him, and obey Him. I’ve even been struggling to want any of that. It sometimes just feels like so much work to do something that Christ already said was finished.

There are two schools of thought in most of christendom. One is that we ought to war and win over our sin, “Sin is crouching at your door and you must master it.” And the other is that sin has been beaten at the foot of the cross, so we walk in full victory. Both are true theologically, but both leave us grabbling with what it means to master besetting sin or to walk completely free of it.

I don’t know what “mastering” sin feels like, nor do I know what it feels like to be so free of the curse that I am unaware of its damaging effects of my heart, soul, and mind. The truth is that I walk with a constant, and growing, awareness of my sin and need for Christ, and I also walk with a constant, and growing, confidence in the finished work of the cross.

But when the nagging monkey on my back won’t keep quiet about what has been mastered and what is covered by the cross, what do I do?

My propensity is to circle the wagons, draw closer boundaries, shut out anything or anyone who might draw my eyes off of Christ. I’m so desperately afraid that He’ll lose sight of me I make it so He’s the only thing I can see. But this isn’t life abundant and therein is the catch for me. If the boundary lines truly have fallen for me in pleasant places, why am I putting myself in a Christian straight-jacket?

A friend asked me the other day, “Do you think it ever grows easier for us to keep from sin?” And the truth is I have no reason to believe it does. I think we grow more disciplined, more circumspect, and more tender to the voice of the Holy Spirit. But no, I don’t think there is a time when sin is not crouching at my door, waiting to devour me.

The enemy hates me and this is good for me to remember in weeks and months like these. He hates me. And he hates you. His sole desire is to devour you and thwart the goodness of God in your life. And I would venture to say if your heart is set on Christ’s, jealous for the righteousness and holiness of God, and in tune with the voice of the Holy Spirit, the enemy is that much more intent on your destruction.

So, friend, if your heart is burdened with your sin and prone to see it more monstrously than God’s grace, take heart in this: He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. He takes sin-laden souls, breathes the spirit and new life into them, and never leaves or forsakes. If your faith is weakened by the sight of your sin, repent and then cease looking at your sin or what leads you to sin, but turn your eyes to the Cross and Christ.

Sin is crouching at our door, clinging to our backs, and waiting to devour us, but Christ breathed words, “It is finished,” and in this faith we walk on.

Talk it In/Out

February 10, 2014 — 1 Comment

I process internally. I’m rarely ready to discuss anything or contribute anything to a conversation until I’ve chewed on and distilled every possible scenario in my head. Because I’m bent this way, I always think it is more helpful to process things internally. You know who doesn’t agree?

All of my friends.

Yup. For some reason I seem to attract verbal processors like hipsters to coffee bars. Nearly every one of my close friends is someone who wants to hash and rehash every thought process. They want the counsel of many, and talking through things helps them distill the good counsel from the bad.

The downside? They want to do that with me.

I don’t seem to mind it when they want to hash around their own problems in that way, but when they want to process my situations in that way, nine times out of ten, I end up feeling bullied or not heard. I feel like a project to be fixed instead of someone to just be heard. But all they’re doing is loving me the way they love to be loved.

However, when they want to talk over things with me, and all I do is listen, they can feel like I don’t care about their problems. I do. I really do. I’m just not ready to give my thoughts until I’ve thought through them.

The other side of the coin is I’ll have thought through a situation for a long, long time, and come to someone with every possible angle considered. I’m rarely looking for their advice, I just feel like I need to say, “Here’s what I’ve been thinking about.” But because I’m coming with a neat bullet-point list, the problem figured out, the best option to take, fully processed, my friends can feel like I’m the one bullying them.

It’s a no win, right?

Well, without Christ it’s a no win.

James says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Because I am naturally bent toward that, I can take this verse and vilify everyone I know who just wants to “talk it out.”

But the book of Proverbs says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” So which is it? Shut up or get talking?

I don’t think it’s either or, honestly. But I do think we need to keep three things in mind in every relationship:

1. The necessity of keeping the Holy Spirit and Fruit of the Spirit central in every conversation we have. When we’re motivated by the things of the Spirit, we’re going to be motivated not to be heard or responded to, but to be like Christ in our listening and in our counsel. Good advice is meaningless if it’s not empowered by the Spirit. Likewise, good listening is active listening, not just thought-filing.

2. If you’re an external processor, be mindful of trying to do so with internal processors. It can feel bullying, even if you mean it in earnest helpfulness.

3. If you’re an internal processor, be mindful of bringing your fully processed ideas to external processors. It can feel condescending, even meant kindly.

Sometimes the best thing, even for verbal processors, is to be slow to speak. And sometimes, even for internal processors, it is to seek the counsel of many. Above all, the counsel we need most is Christ’s, and the voice we should be listening to the most is His.

Subversive Women

February 3, 2014 — 1 Comment

We don’t like being wallflowers at the world’s party. A recent study of the decline in white males’ preparing for pastoral work concluded that a major reason is that there’s no prestige left in the job. Interestingly, the slack is taken up by others (blacks, Asians, women) who apparently are not looking for prestige and have a history of working subversively. Neither was there prestige in Paul’s itinerant tent-making.
E. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 11.25.03 AM

I liked being a wallflower until I was 22. Around then someone showed me the dormant selfishness in standing off until approached by others. He was gentler of course, but the truth is since then I have only been uncomfortable as a wallflower. Keenly aware I ought to have both feet in most situations, whenever I find myself holding back or feeling alone, I know I have no one to blame by myself.

Whenever I lead any group in a pairing activity, I challenge everyone if they don’t want to be picked last, to pick someone else first. I want them to learn that sometimes ministry must be subversive. It may be a bit of selfishness motivating them, but real relationships are born every time. Every time.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This morning I’m reading Philippians 1:12, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

What had happened to Paul was this: ship-wrecking, beating, whipping, imprisonment, and something else, subversive ministry.

Paul spent a significant portion of his ministry tent-making with Aquilla and Priscilla. It might seem a simple enough trade, but Paul kept at it while evangelizing those fool Jews and Greeks in the Synagogue. Subversive Ministry.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

This weekend women are going to be gathering all over the world. Pockets of women who understand the prefix sub, under. Some understand it as a joy, in great fruitfulness of submission to husbands and local church leadership. Some understand it as a net, holding them back from everything their soul craves. But we all understand it. The world has not been kind to women or wallflowers.

So here’s my challenge to you: let’s be kind first. Let’s be subversive in our mission. Let’s gather, in living rooms, back rooms, sanctuaries, and coffee shops, and let’s pick someone else first.

Let’s really advance the gospel by not wasting what has been won for us, through persecution, pain, study, self-sacrifice, and thousands of years of subversive Christians.

The truth is the gospel changed you because Someone picked you first. Someone didn’t regard equality as something to be grasped, but submitted Himself to His Father, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

That’s the kind of subversive ministry I want. It’s a ministry the world cannot understand because it’s a ministry the world hates.

Be that woman this weekend, and every weekend, and every day. Pick someone else, not so you won’t be left standing alone, but because it is an expression of the gospel deep and tangible; it is lowly tent-making among scholars and pharisees; it is risking persecution among the fearful and bullying; it is subversive and sanctifying ministry. It is Christ.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 11.26.09 AM

There’s still time to find an IF:Local gathering and if you’re a woman, I invite you to find one near you. If you’re going to be at IF:Austin, I’ll be there and I’d love to meet you. I’ll do my best to subversively find you first, but if I don’t, come find me.

The 98%

January 29, 2014 — 2 Comments

There’s this part in the beginning of Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, when Binx Bolling is discussing what we seek. He says,

“For, as everyone knows, the polls report that 98% of Americans believe in God and the remaining 2% are atheists and agnostics—which leaves not a single percentage point for the seekers…

Truthfully, it is the fear of exposing my own ignorance which constrains me from mentioning the object of my search. For, to begin with, I cannot even answer this, the simplest and most basic of all questions: Am I, in my search, a hundred miles ahead of my fellow Americans or a hundred miles behind them? That is to say: have 98% of Americans already found what I seek or are they so sunk in everydayness that not even the possibility of a search has occurred to them?

On my honor, I do not know the answer.”

Binx spends the entirety of the book looking for that answer.

Do you ever feel like that? As though you are so far ahead of yourself, let alone others, or so far behind you’ll never catch up? I feel this way often enough.

On good days I am behind and on bad days I am ahead, egotistically wrestling with existential questions of paramount concern that I’m sure no one has ever wrestled with before (You see why those are bad days?).

I ask questions of myself, of God, and of others that I’m sure must frustrate or irritate Him because they certainly frustrate and irritate me. I believe He is good, but I want Him to explain His goodness for goodness sake. If He is good, why doesn’t He make all the bad make sense?

Does that make me ahead of my time or behind it? And if it just makes me part of the 98% percent (of 1961), are you asking the same question and can we be friends?

The truth is we are all walking a thin and narrow line of faith. Some might say walking on water or jumping off cliffs, but isn’t it all the same? We are taking small steps of great faith to even seek at all.

He says to seek him while He may be found and it makes me wonder sometime if there is an after. As though we can only seek Him while He makes himself able to be found. After that, too late, get back with the 98%, you sloth. That’ll turn your choice theology on its head no matter which end of the spectrum you come from.

Binz was asking a question I think we all ask in our moments of greatest vulnerability: will I ever get this right? Whether I am behind or ahead, it matters not, but will I get it right? Will I find what I am looking for?

The answer, I think, is we will. It is those who never ask or seek who will not, those who never lift their frail and fragile hands to knock—not to be let in, but to be let out of their death drenched bodies. I think we will find what we sought all along and what we find may surprise us.

Because we will find it is He who found us first.

I’m weary of conferences. Not wary, weary.

I’m weary of the same talks, the same speakers, and the same hype. I want something deeper and I want something that truly makes me pause.

About a year ago I started hearing about this conference called Linger that is being held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. My interest was piqued right away because, well, linger means to pause, to stop and reflect—and that’s what I want. To pause. To stop. To be still. To listen. To hear. To linger. To reflect on God and His abundant love for His children. Oh, yes. Yes.

If that sounds as refreshing to you as it does to me, I’d invite you to check out Linger and if you can make it, to do so. So much so that if you’re from out of town, I’ll do my best to help find a home for you to stay in while you’re here in the DFW metroplex.

If you’re what is colloquially called a creative, there’s a Thursday night session just for you. Just to sit and be encouraged by like-minded individuals who want their art to reflect more of Christ and what He’s doing in them. Check that out.

If you’d like to know more about Linger, view this video below.

Linger is being held at Watermark Community Church on February 14 & 15th,

Also, if you’re a Village Church member you get a marked discount. Cool, huh? You should have gotten an email from Mason about it, or you can look on The City for the special code.

Hope to see y’all there!

Cornerstone

January 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

Need some soul encouragement today? Read these lyrics. Read them slowly. Read them surely. Read them with confidence. This is the anthem of the sinner, the saint, the fearful, the confident, the sure, the scared, the son.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.