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There are eighteen attributes of God posted on the walls of the Kids Village rooms at The Village Church. Learning those attributes, committing them to memory, and pulling them out whenever I have doubted the character of God throughout the past six years has been one of the most life-changing disciplines of my life.

After I posted this photo, several people asked for the full list or a link to the posters. A few of the guys in the Comm department told me they’ll think about getting something up in the next year, but until then, I asked for permission to reprint the complete list. It was written by Anne Lincoln Holibaugh, the director of Kids Village for years and one who worked hard to create a well-oiled machine in that area. She’s brilliant. If you know her, tell her (and all the Kids Village/Little Village people) thank you today.

Here are the attributes in list form. Below, if you click on the image, there’s a high resolution image I put together that you can print out and put on your fridge or frame or wherever it would be helpful for you to visualize the bigness of God on a regular basis. I really mean it when I say committing these characteristics of God to memory has been one of the most life-changing disciplines for me. They’re easy to remember, they remind me I am not God, and they speak to nearly every lie I am tempted to believe about Him.

God is:

Wise: He knows what is best
Generous: He gives what is best
Loving: He does what is best
Good: He is what is best
Unchanging: He never changes
Creator: He made everything
Provider: He meets the needs of His children
Holy: He is completely perfect
Just: He is right to punish sin
Glorious: He shows his glory and greatness
Sovereign: He has the right, will, and power to do as He pleases
Compassionate: He sees, cares, and acts when His children are in need
Merciful: He does not give what His children deserve
Attentive: He hears and responds to His children
Worthy: He deserves all glory
Deliverer: He saves His children from wrath
Refuge: He provides places of safety for His children
Almighty: Nothing is too hard for God

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On Thursday we signed the contract for the sale of our house in Denver and on Monday, God willing, the buyers will sign it. For many of you who had your houses on the market for years+, the relief we’re feeling can sound hyperbolic, but I’m going to be uncomfortably honest about why we are relieved. (Uncomfortable for you, maybe, I have nothing left to protect here.)

The Denver housing market (particularly where we bought) was more than double the market in Texas where we’d come from. We knew that being near to the local church where I’d be working was a non-negotiable for us. We wanted to practice hospitality, to have a home that was convenient for others to stop by, and where we could be invested in the life of the city community.

From the day we moved in, our house was just that. Not a day went by that there weren’t people at our house—sometimes three different people would stay in our guest room within a week. We welcomed a brand new baby and her parents home from the hospital for a week when their renovation project wasn’t done yet. We had people spend every holiday with us. We had many late nights with people around our kitchen table and on our back porch. From the moment the house was ours until the moment we locked the doors behind us (accompanied by a few friends who came to say one last goodbye) we tried to be faithful with the gift of the home.

It was an expensive home (for us), and a quirky one. It was a farmhouse from the 1800s that had been added on to multiple times. When we bought it, our realtor said, “This house doesn’t even have a place to put a TV, it’s going to be hard to resell.” We didn’t care for two reasons: we didn’t own a TV and didn’t plan on selling. And then suddenly Nate’s contract wasn’t renewed, the Denver job market for his skill set wasn’t as big as we thought it would be, and my paycheck (which we had planned on just squirreling away since his was enough for all our bills) wasn’t enough to sustain us in that house. We had to sell.

Everyone who ever came through our doors loved our house and we loved our home so we didn’t think selling would be hard. Our realtor set an amount that basically would have us walking away without losing money, but not making any. We were fine with that. We got a contract on it, but then they backed out. Then we got another one, and they backed out. One more, and they backed out. And then again, but they backed out. We were so confused—we weren’t being given reasons for the repeated back outs, and we were more than willing to fix things or adjust our price, but weren’t really being given a chance to talk it through with the buyers. Each time it just felt like a punch in the gut.

We were hemorrhaging money at this point: Nate had taken a major pay cut in this new job, we had moving costs for moving across the country again, to the fifth most expensive city in the U.S., even with a house as far out of the city as we could get commute-wise, our rent was the same as our mortgage in Denver. Plus we were fixing things along the way in the house in Denver, draining our bank account even more. There comes a point where you know the options in front of you are not only limited, they’re humbling—even humiliating. We were talking about foreclosure.

We had put down more than 20% on the house and we kept asking the question: “How much can we walk away with?” We wanted to buy a house in DC at some point, even if it was half the house we had in Denver. To even think about things like foreclosure felt so defeating for both of us. Nate has always has not only stable jobs, but extremely well-paying jobs, and I have tried my best to stay out of any kind of debt. We were not the sort of people who foreclosed. Or were we?

God began painfully, painfully, painfully pruning any assumptions we had about provision. He started that process when Nate lost his job, dug the scalpel in deeper when months went by without a job offer, even deeper when we began to put groceries and home repairs on the credit card, and it seemed he was gouging out all our pride by the time we had to ask the question: is foreclosure our only option?

In the midst of that process, we began to ask a different question: “How little can we walk away with?” At first the answer was, “Enough to pay off our credit card debt and the taxes we owed on Nate’s 2015 1099 salary.” But slowly the answer became, “We can walk away with nothing. We can lose it all.”

I’ve been in the church all my life and I’ve never heard anyone talk about this. I’ve heard people talk about it in a nuanced other people sort of way, or a testimony of how God restored all the locusts had eaten and all that, but I’ve never heard anyone process this in the midst of it. How painful it was. How humiliating and humbling. How there is absolutely nothing I could do to ease my husband’s anxiety about it. How there was nothing he could do to ease my fear about it. There comes a point when you just stand there desperate and empty before God and you can’t do anything and you feel utterly alone in the process. This whole year led us to that moment on the couch, with tears in our eyes, and the reality before us. We could do nothing on our own.

Losing a couple thousand dollars would be hard, but losing nearly 100K felt like a punch in the stomach we would never recover from.

In this process, we confessed all this to our community back home in Texas. We listed out the difficulties, we expressed we had needs only God could meet, and we asked for prayer. It felt humbling and hard. This wasn’t how I envisioned the first year of our marriage to be. None of this was. It felt like God took every imaginably difficult scenario for one of his kids to walk through, and put them all in front of us this year, a row of dominos each one leaning into the other in succession.

At the end of April we got an offer. It was far below what we were asking and had some expensive contingencies included (we’d put a new roof on), but it would leave us with almost exactly the amount needed to pay the taxes and the credit card, not one cent more. We accepted the offer and started holding our breath for the next month and a half waiting for May 23rd to come, and praying we’d make it financially through this month of bills.

A week later one of our best friends came to visit bringing with her a stack of cards from our church family in Texas. Inside were letters of encouragement and love for us—and as we opened each one, out fell money. It added up to the exact amount we’d need for our mortgage in Denver for one more month.

I cried.

This was not how I envisioned this happening either. Accepting those gifts from people who we love and who love us felt hard, but a good hard. We haven’t felt the enveloping love of our church family in a long time and to feel it in such a gutting way was—I can’t even explain it, it was hard. But good. But hard.

There’s no pretty ending to this story, friends. I can’t wrap this up for you. We wanted to tell you for a few reasons though: God gets the glory and He does it through His Church.

We moved to Denver for His glory and His Church, and we left feeling brokenness in both of those areas, but in the face of the brokenness, He still gets the glory and He still uses His Church.

But He also brings us to the point where we have to stop asking ourselves: “How much of myself can I keep?” and start asking ourselves, “How much can I give up?” Sometimes that’s easy, and we’re on the giving side of the equation, stuffing envelopes full of money to send to friends who need it more than we do. And sometimes it’s unbelievably painful and we look to all the world like we’re losing, losing, lost. But He empties us just the same and it’s hurts so good.

. . .

If I have to boil down this season of my life to one BIG lesson it is this: The Church is called to bear one anothers’ burdens. This means we enter into the mourning and rejoicing, confession and repentance process, discipline and discipleship, sharing all things in common—including but not limited to, finances, fears, joys, food, homes, cares, and prayers. If your politics, pride, personality, and proclivities don’t like the sound of that for some reason, it doesn’t change the precedence set forth in scripture.

If our politics of capitalism, of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, of each man for himself gets in the way of us admitting need, weakness, or inability to do something, this is what the Bible says: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

If our pride in self-sufficiency, independence, and self-righteousness get in the way of admitting we cannot accomplish something, we feel weak, or we physically cannot make something materialize where it is not, this is what the Bible says: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

If our personality limits us from asking for help, for admitting we feel disappointed and disheartened, for confessing we cannot see a way through what life is throwing at us, this is what the Bible says: Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

If our proclivities lead to a stubborn or ungrateful demeanor to anyone who tries to help, this is what the Bible says:  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

It’s been hard to walk through this year in a way that holds both the hope of eternity and the hardness of life in tension with one another, to feel humiliated but also humbled, to recognize sin in my life and others’, and to say at the end of it: it’s beautiful and broken, but God’s way is best.

If you’re a regular reader of Sayable it’s no secret that regular writing has been, well, not so regular for nearly a year. Part of that has been the season of life and work for me—I’ve learned over the past 16 years of blogging that there are ebbs and flows, and no guarantee the words will always be there when I want them to. Part of it has just been how spiritually difficult this year has been for me. Maybe there are some of you out there who could make it through a year like this like a champ, I am not one of you.

A few weeks ago I was confessing to a friend how difficult writing has been and she encouraged me with these words: just write about what you’re learning in scripture. You don’t have to teach, apply, or prove anything, just read scripture and write about it. 

One of the places I have been writing for this year, She Reads Truth, has enabled me to do just that: write about scripture. In the lack of wisdom I have about any of the other things I’m walking through, the Bible never leaves me feeling empty. I always feel full when I have eaten at the table of scripture. The feast of the Word always fills its hearers—whether we feel like it or not.

She Reads Truth is about to begin a summer series on the book of Acts and they’ve graciously given my readers a code for a 15% discount on your Acts book orders. To be honest, I never used the books before Lent, they were primarily just scripture and I could just use my own Bible. But during the Lent study I used the She Reads Truth book and found it actually to be very helpful in that I could scribble in the margins in ways I don’t do in my own Bible. It was a refreshing way to look at scripture (how many of us just glaze over the words in our well-worn, well-read Bibles?). Plus, they’re gorgeous and I love celebrating the gifts of art and beauty within the Church.

If you’d like to order a She Reads Truth or a He Reads Truth book or bundle, use this code at the store and get 15% off your order: LORE15. The code is good until Monday, the 23rd of May.

I’m looking forward to reading along with you!

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She drew small circles on his back with her manicured nails. He sat up straighter and leaned forward. I averted my eyes and kept on singing about a God who satisfies all my deepest longings while feeling like a fraud of a worshipper: the single girl who longed for the kind of touch she saw in front of her.

What do we do about public displays of affection in the church? I faced this dilemma every week as a single woman, when it felt like the last time I’d been hugged, kissed, or back-scratched was when I visited Grandma. In church, I saw that affectionate touch knew no generational bounds, popping up among new couples, old couples, and middle-aged couples alike.

Now, I’ve always been a proponent of good hugs, muscle rubs, and kisses on the top of my head. Within dating relationships I was mostly a good Christian prude, but among all the other relationships I was the first to give out hugs. “A good hugger” will probably be my epitaph; among my circle of friends it’s been called the “Lore Hug.” (I could be known for worse and so I’ll take it.)

For all my love of hugging, though, there was something about public affection between couples, particularly in church, that always rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not alone. A few weeks ago, I saw a friend posted her pithy observations on church PDA, and people flooded to the comments to declare “pet peeve,” “creepy,” and “get a room.” I knew where they were coming from—I’d felt that ick factor too—but I waited to respond, and another thought came to me: Shouldn’t the church be the one to reclaim healthy physical touch, even public expressions of it?

Continue Reading at Christianity Today.

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“Her attentions are divided (I Cor. 7:34)” was exactly what I didn’t want to happen in marriage. I wanted to stick it to Paul, show him I could be married and undivided in my affections for the Lord, undistracted by cares of the world. I could be married and still be everything I’d been in my singleness. What is marriage if not addition? One + one equals two. Double the ministry. Double the fulfillment. Double the impact. Double everything. Win, win.

The past few months I’ve felt the subtle pressure of a kind of feminism in my heart. As Nate searched faithfully for a job and I brought home the gluten-free, sugar free bacon and the paycheck, the belief that my job itself was reason to stay the course in Denver crept in. It was internal and it was external. I believed it and others enforced the belief. Lots of stories rolled in about long periods of unemployment for husbands and how in that time wives worked 9 to 5 and they made it work and God showed them much and then after a year, two years, three years, five, God finally provided a job. They made it work, see? We could too.

Here’s where the division of my attentions made itself known: My husband deeply desires to provide for our household. He loves to work and works hard. The only time I see him rest is on our self-proclaimed Sabbath, and even then, it is work for him to still and quiet himself as a reminder that God is everything he longs to be. My husband wants to work, can work, and feels called to work—even if the work means we move to a different location.

In every other season of my life, my employment or vocation was my primary calling. I felt called to the work of the local church, in the role of nurturer and minister, and to be faithful with my pen and mind. This was my primary calling and I tried my best to do it faithfully, with joy, contentment, and an undivided heart.

In this season of life, though, my household (Prov. 31:27), my marriage, and my husband is my primary calling. He does not take the place of God in my worship, but he takes the place of all the other things I had the freedom to do in my singleness. His dreams, his goals, his desires do not trump mine. They do not have the final word over mine. But they do set the course for the direction of our family.

Think of it like this: we’re setting out to move to DC in two weeks. We can drive or fly, use a moving service or a UHaul. We can drive on RT 70 the whole way or RT 80. We can get there in any number of fashions, but there is where we’re going. In the same way, Nate has a calling and we get to be creative together in figuring out how to fulfill that calling.

This is what it means that in marriage our attentions are divided. I don’t call the shots alone anymore. Hand in hand, eyes set ahead, we walk forward together into what God has called our family.

The creeping belief that as a new and liberated Christian woman I won’t wrestle through these divided attentions is always lingering around my front door. It’s not just in the world, though, it’s in the church. From every corner women in the church are being proclaimed to, preached at, and pinterested to death that We Can Do It! We Were Made For So Much More! Loosen Those Chains! Run Free!

And again and again women are exhausted, depleted, and tacking index cards above their kitchen sinks to remind them again and again that They Can Do It!

Here’s a truth I’m learning in this time of divided attention: I cannot do it and I was not meant to.

God, in his sovereign goodness, joined me to a man in my 34th year of life. He knew I would spend my life single and undivided up until that time, and immediately after marriage, he began the deep and difficult work of turning my eyes away from the good work of singleness and to the good work of marriage. He made provision for me, the one with divided affections, competing desires, and clashing goals. He promised me in his word that I would be divided. The tearing of my flesh from my spirit—the work I thought he’d almost completed in my singleness—has begun again within marriage.

A friend texted me last night after we made the move public. She said, “‘She looks well to the way of her household’ means you never have to wonder what to do; look well after the man you’ve been called to,” and for the first night in weeks, I slept the whole night through.

I am called to look well to the way of my household. In our home that means to encourage, exhort, push, challenge, and make space for my husband to thrive. He thrives in working hard. This is the way God made him and I love him for it. The desire God has given him is to work in the government, to live nearer to our families, and to plant our lives deeply on the east coast. The rest is just details. We get to figure that out together. And God is in all of it.

. . .

If you’re a wife and you’re expending yourself exhausted trying to figure out how to be undivided, free, and full of all the life and vitality you see out there, try this experiment for a week or two or three: Just look well to the needs of your household.

For some of you that means being the primary financial provider for your home, for some of you it means staying at home, for some it means caring for children and your husband primarily, and I don’t know what it means for others. You seek the Lord, ask Him what the needs of your household are, and how you can look well to them. Then put your hand to the plow and be faithful.

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It’s a good thing I got my latte only half caff. I’m not sure whether I need to wake up or take a really long nap. The woman at the table beside me is complaining to her coworker about how their manager hasn’t responded to her email. Correction: emails. Six of them as of yet unanswered. Thank God she’s talking about her boss at a vitamin supplement company for whom she works; she could be talking about me.

I’m supposed to be answering emails right now, instead I’m typing this. Actually, I’m supposed to be meeting with someone right now, but they’re late, so instead I’m taking these precious fifteen minutes to answer emails. The queue is long and full—and not with your run of the mill one line response-needed kind either. It’s a bastion of issues, concerns, real life struggles, fears, and a host of other things weighing heavy on hearts.

One of the things technology has done for humanity is press us closer to one another in a smaller world—Facebook makes me feel so close to you, right next to you even. Twitter makes me think I have the whole story. Email makes longform conversation seemingly simple. Texting demands instant responses. Voicemail. Voxer. Voice-texting. Facebook messaging. Chatting. We have more communication tools at our disposal than ever before—and nobody leaves unscathed. For the one whose initiation goes unanswered—or delayed—they’re crushed by their expectations. For the one whose pile of communication keeps building—they’re crushed by the expectations of others.

The answer isn’t to stop communicating, but the bible does have some things to say to the communicator that might be helpful for us:

There is no god, but God:

No matter how much we want a pastor, minister, or friend to solve our problems or the problems we see in others, they cannot. When we jot off a digital initiation to someone whose vocation is people, we tempt them to play God for us—and we are tempted to believe they can and should. Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Don’t believe the lie that technology makes someone always available to you. Press into their absence and work out your salvation.

It is the glory of God to conceal things:

There is actually much glory in keeping things quiet and bringing them only to God. The bible speaks so much of what happens in the heart, but we seem to be much more concerned with what happens with our hands and heads. The beauty of journaling is one more of us ought to take up. Within those pages we can pour out our hearts to God so much so that pouring them out to man seems less of a holy thing. Don’t make digital correspondence your mechanism for holy war. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to seek them out.

Secret the concerns of your heart, bring them first and mainly to God instead of an email message. Seek God’s glory, not a foolish king’s crown.

Take responsibility instead of passing it on to someone else even if it’s their job:

So often we dash off an email to someone because it’s their job to handle the matter. But—especially for those in ministerial positions—we cannot handle the whole matter. People are a constant waterfall of goodness and difficulty. The beautiful thing here though is that people are God’s gift to His people. Pastors are a gift, shepherds are a gift, but they are not the only gifts. You, reader, are a gift to the Church! Ephesians 4:11 says, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” If we are tempted to pass off the work of the ministry to a pastor, teacher, or shepherd, let’s remember it’s we who are being equipped by them so we can do the work of the ministry.

Don’t jot off an easy message to someone saying, “We need this ministry!” or “Reach out to this person!” or “This person needs to be discipled.” Saint, do the work of the ministry.

. . .

When people bang up against the humanity of people they think are superhuman, it is actually a gift to everyone. We will fail and we will be failed. We will feel everything is either too much or not enough. Our instinct is to use quick tools to solve problems, but friends, our digital messages pile up under the weight of a thousand more pressing issues. We set ourselves up for disappointment.

How much better to start with the God of the universe, the caretaker of your soul, your heart, your circumstances, and your life. Today you will be tempted to dash off an email, a text, a message, or a tweet that will beg for response. Fight the inclination and find your shelter in the shadow of the Most High. He cares for you.

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat, summer and winter,
day and night, shall not cease.
Genesis 8:22

It’s a dark, chilly, rainy morning. Most of us were late for work, navigating city traffic among a people who are accustomed to 300 days of sunlight a year. All that sunshine makes a man forget how to drive through the rain.

One of the things I missed most about the northeast while I lived in Texas was four full seasons, each brilliant in their showtime. The neon green of spring, the evening breezes of summer, fall’s coat of many colors, and the stark cowlick trees against winter’s horizon. Moving to a state familiar with them all, even if it is farther from my native roots, is a comforting return of sorts.

Autumn is always my favorite. The food: roots, potatoes, squashes, apples, and pears; I crave the tastes of fall all year long and stretch it as far as I’m able, deep into December. The weather: chilly, dark mornings, followed by the last bursts of warmth, and sinking into early evenings with long nights. The clothes: moccasins and scarves and Smart Wool socks and flannel. I love it all.

God designed Autumn to slow us down, but we have hurried it up: school and classes have started, yearly planning meetings, hot caffeinated beverages flowing fast and furious into our systems. We rush through this season, and the next two, so we can get at last to summer and rest.

God didn’t design the year like that, though. He made the long days of summer to be our hardest working times so we would come to the dark days of winter and remember He is our maker and the Lord of rest. He made the land to produce in the Spring and Summer and the vestiges of Fall so when we arrived on the threshold of Winter we would stand awkwardly, not knowing what to do with our hands.

When Nate and I went home to New York a few weeks ago, one of our evenings was spent with one of the families who have most influenced my understanding of rest, sabbath, seasons, locale, and creation care. We sat at their table long into the evening, candles burning down to puddles of wax in pewter holders, and we talked. No one wanted it to be over and this is how God has made it, I think.

The world will tell you to work harder, to achieve more, and to not count the cost this fall. The Creator tells you through creation to rest more, achieve less, and to enjoy every small moment of every short day this fall. Don’t waste your autumn.

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I used to worry that God would make me marry a man who bored me or didn’t like to read or didn’t challenge me or who didn’t have a beard. You see my frivolity? A beard? I spent time worrying God would make me marry a clean-shaven, soft-cheeked, hairless-faced guy. But I stand by the other desires: I wanted to lay on a blanket by a lake and discuss church and Church, theology and Isaiah, politics and the shape of the clouds. I wanted to never get tired of talking to him. Or listening to him.

As I made my way through my twenties and then thirties, and dated good, nice, solid, kind men, I still found myself slightly stomach-knotted at the thought of tying myself to any of them for the rest of my life. I couldn’t imagine it would be worth giving up singleness (as difficult as it was and lonely as I felt) to latch myself to any of them—and latch myself to that stomach-knottedness—for life. They were good men, but they weren’t Nate.

A friend asked me the other day how a girl can avoid settling. The market is what it is, she said, and the pickings are slim. I hear her sentiments and shared them for 34 years and I hate the platitudinous answer I gave her, which was this: don’t settle.

And I wasn’t talking about settling for a man without a beard or a man whose physique may not be what you envisioned or who might have blond hair instead of brown and who may not play the guitar or write love poems for you—in this regard, women, settle yourselves down. No, I meant this:

Don’t settle in the belief that God knows what is best for you today and tomorrow and all the days of your life. He has given you the blessed-horrible gift of singleness today. One day you feel its blessedness and another you feel its horridness, but either way, it is the gift you have today. The question of settling is not attached to a man at all, but to the God whose job alone it is to give you the gift of a mate. So the question is not “Should I settle for a man who is less than what I envisioned?” and really, “Should I settle in the belief that God doesn’t hear or care about the desires of my heart?”

. . .

Nate and I have created a small ritual in our lives these days. At five o’clock, when the workday ends, we knot our sneakers, he slings a blanket over his shoulder, and we walk to the lake a few blocks away. We find a spot high enough up that we can see the sun set over the Rockies and we talk until it creeps down behind them. Sometimes one of us rants. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes he just listens, or I do. The other day we talked about Church history and architecture, and when the wind came blowing down the hill I pressed myself against his strong back, touched his beard, and I thanked God for not giving me the chance to settle. I thanked him for all the stomach-knotted uncertainty I’d had for the past 34 years. It was God’s good protection for me, and such a familiar feeling that when I knew I would marry Nate, I knew it with a surety and freedom I couldn’t have had without all those years of knowing it was not right.

Sisters and friends—and brothers, you too—do not settle for less than the belief that God has written your story before the foundation of the earth and he is the giver of good and perfect gifts in the proper time. He cares about birds and lilies and beards and you.

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One of the most beautiful things about the cross is that the ground before it is level. Not the actual ground, of course, we all know it was on a hill far away, but the spiritual ground before the cross is as level as the carpenter’s measure—a flat plane. From the third chapter of the bible we’ve been measuring our sins, though, and passing them off as another’s problem. But Christ came in flesh, lived as one of us, and died, so that once and for all, no man’s head can rise higher than another’s and no man’s head will ever rise higher than Christ’s.

This is the theological truth, but the practical working out of it is what catches us. Mountains, molehills, plains, and valleys—we are always trying to make our station lower or higher than what He has called it.

I did it this morning on my way to work: Well, no one else is in a season just like this, undergoing all this transition, etc. etc. etc.. If God was a mocker I could almost feel his mockery: Oh really, Lore? No one understands you? No one understands this season? No one could possibly get what you’re walking through? Really?

And then his chastening comfort:

The ground before the cross is level, daughter. Every person you know is walking through a difficulty you could not possibly understand—and do not need to because I have. I am.

For every young mom who feels isolated and alone in her season there is an older single who feels isolated and alone. For every man with the weight of the world on his shoulders there is a young man who feels the weight of nothing on his shoulders. For every woman struggling with infertility there is a unmarried person longing for a spouse. For every one in need of the gospel there is another person in need of the gospel.

We all, at our base, need the issues of our hearts captured by the understanding that God alone understands—but that He gave us the gift of the Whole Church to walk alongside on this level ground before the cross.

Your season, and mine, is no more unique or special or any other season. They are all beautiful in their time—and only beautiful because God has given His Son to us as an intercessor in the midst of them. Stop looking for people who just get you and look for people who get the gospel—and if they do not, teach them the beauty of this leveled ground, the beautifully equal need we all have for the cross in every season of life.

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One of the guys I have the most respect for as a man, a pastor, a writer, a husband and father, and believer, is Jared Wilson. When he emailed me several months ago to ask if I’d consider writing for the new site from Midwestern Seminary, For the Church, I knew it was a place I’d be happy to be serve. There’s nothing on earth I love more than the Church, and so there’s nothing I love more than encouraging and building her up, and to get to do that under the leadership of Jared is a blessing indeed. If you haven’t yet checked out For the Church, I’d encourage you to do so. I pray the content there encourages and strengthens you as you serve your local church. Here’s my first post there: Lip Service. 

. . .

If we say we believe God is sovereign, but spend our days wringing our hands and fretting, we’re just doing lip-service to theology.

If we say we believe God is love, but spend our days berating ourselves and others, we’re just doing lip-service to theology.

If we say we believe God is faithful, but try to control outcomes and people, we’re just doing lip-service to theology.

Continue reading. 

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Adrienne Rich said, in one of my favorite poems,

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.

and that feels a lot like life sometimes. At least life right now. There’s some wreckage I don’t want to explore. I don’t want to use my words to find the treasures that prevail here. I’d rather just be heartbroken and walk through grief as it comes, instead of purposing with my words.

A friend told me a few weeks ago my life had been like a fallow field for a long time. Furrowed, plowed, ready for seeding, but still standing empty, waiting for the proper time. She was referring to a plethora of good, good things happening in my life right now—seeds and shoots and promises coming through from the dark, dark earth. But with growth also comes pain and these growing pains hurt worse than almost anything I’ve known.

I’m weeping as I write those words because I can’t talk about all the things weighing on me right now—that’s part of the wreckage and the seeds: both things pressed in deep places, hidden from the public eye.

The difference between wreckage and seeds though, is that one falls apart and produces nothing, and one falls apart and produces everything. And it is important to remember the difference and to keep on remembering it.

Something is breaking apart in every one of our lives. Something is giving away and changing and shifting and breaking. Some of it feels like wreckage and some of it is a seed. Some of it we need to dive straight into to see the treasures which prevail, and some of it we need to trust to the deep, dark earth and the sovereign hand of God who makes everything produce fruit in its season (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
John 12:24

The plan was to leave Texas almost as soon as I came to her. Six months, see if God was real, and if he could spare any love for a doubter like me, then move on, vagabond my way through life. I figured God (if he was real) could manage an oddity like me better than any one place could.

Five years later: I’ve tried to leave her a half a dozen times but she’s kept me, like the song goes, “Not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.” A year ago I sobbed on my bedroom floor before signing another year lease. It felt like signing a death warrant. Another hot summer, another suburban home, another brown winter, another flat year.

But God turns our mourning to dancing—or something like it.

. . .

I died a thousand little deaths throughout 2013 and 2014. Every one of them seemed a no to me and my desires. But the best of them were no to my lesser desires and I see that now. I have wanted a great many things, but too often I take the leftovers, certain God means for me to suffer until I am left with only Him.

A hundred decisions loomed in front of me over the past two years and I, like Rebekah, packed my little idols in my bags just in case. I worshipped the lesser gods of marriage, vocation, location, and more. I was certain God wouldn’t give me all the desires of my heart, so I settled for the scraps of just one, maybe two.

But something unexpected happened: the more I submitted to being all here, all in, Texan for as long as God would call me to be, I began to love Texas. Love for her people, her places, and specifically my place in her—it all began to grow. It was small at first, imperceptible glimmers, but it grew stronger and stronger until the thought of ever leaving seemed unlikely. I went to Israel last fall and the strongest emotion I felt while there was not wonder at the land upon which Jesus once walked, but homesickness for my own land.

For Texas?

Yes.

And then in January I got an email, a job offer. It was not in the location I wanted, not in the church I wanted, nothing of what I thought I wanted, and all of the peace I imagined was possible. I did not trust my heart or desires, though, and passed it through to those who know my propensity to worship lesser gods. Elders and pastors and mentors who know my proclivities, my impulsivity, and, more than anything, know the Holy Spirit. The more I let it slip from my grip, the more it seemed God was saying, “No, daughter, this, this is good.”

. . .

I stood in that church building a few weeks ago, the sunlight streaming through the windows of the hundred year old sanctuary, the Rocky Mountains to the west outside, the liturgy spoken and sung by all of us, small families and staff on all sides of me who’d done nothing but bless me and answer every question posed to them over four days—and I worshipped God. I worshipped God because he heard all my prayers and during all my attempts to thwart Him and take the lesser portion, He was still storing up the greater one.

This is an announcement of sorts, true: I have been handed the description to a job that only existed in my dreams and been told, “It is yours if you want it.”

But this is also a proclamation of sorts: the lesser gods will always be there clamoring for my worship.

They will be prevalent in Denver, Colorado at Park Church where I will work with their leadership team to train and make disciples in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. They will be there as much as they have been here in Dallas, Texas where the Lord brought me to the beautiful and full knowledge of Him, trained me in discipleship, taught me submission, and helped me to see He did not bring me out to the desert to die, but to truly learn that man does not live by bread alone—or all the feasts we think will bring us life—but we live on Him and His words and His water and His plans.

Those lesser gods do not always seem like the worst decisions. Mostly often they are just the less than good decisions. I have not fully learned that lesson and I suspect God will always be teaching it to me. But I have learned this lesson: I cannot thwart His purposes. He will not let me live on the crumbs while a feast awaits on the table above.

. . .

If you’re my family at The Village, I sent this in a letter to the elders last week: I’ve been more loved here than I could have ever imagined. The Lord saved me here and taught me more about the gospel, studying the Word, loving discipleship, loving women, submitting to leadership, loving discipline, than I could have known was possible. The Village Church is honestly the most humbling and beautiful common grace I’ve experienced, and you’ve each played a role in that. I’ll never stop being grateful for it and each of you. My heart is broken to leave, but expectant to go.

I mean that for the rest of you too. My heart is broken to leave this place and I’ll be more mourning than rejoicing for the next two months as I prepare to go. I want to end my time here well, which means prioritizing the girls at #highchapelhouse and my immediate community of friends and leaders. We will have a come-one-come-all going away party at Roots Coffeehouse the first week of June, details forthcoming. Thanks for understanding my limitations over the next few months. And thank you for loving me. At the end of one meeting about this with some elders and pastors here, one of them said, “You can always come home,” and my heart knew that home was Texas and you, so thank you. 

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God,

I did it again. I dug my own cistern and it broke. I sought solace in the arms of a whore, a cheap imitation of the real thing, a creature instead you, the Creator. I long for the comfort of independence, making my own fortune, building my own kingdom, because I long for respite today instead of someday.

I’m hungry for heaven and for the bread of life, but today I just want to be full, to stop feeling the pangs of hunger in my heart. I ache with all the somedays of our faith. The tomorrows and better days ahead.

Jesus, you said You gave us water that would make us never thirst again, but the only water I know is the kind I need every day, again and again. I don’t understand a quench ever being filled and my heart ever being full. I have no concept of fullness, only hunger or the gluttony that makes us fat on the feast of earthly sweets. I starve myself or I indulge myself—fearful of living in the tension of what you have already done and what you have not yet done.

I do not trust you.

And I do trust you.

And I don’t know how to live in that ever expanding, ever closing gap.

The more I know you, the more I trust you, but the more I trust you, the more you give me to trust you with and the more I have to know and trust you. It is an endless cycle, this hunger. I eat of your words, they taste sweet and fill me, but I am oh so hungry again and the temptation to eat a lesser feast is always before me.

Fill me to full, Lord, to overflowing, and empty me of me in that process. Empty me, train my palate and my hunger so the only one for whom I thirst is you. Give me a taste for you.

The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.

John Piper

I.

I am not like those Israelites in the wilderness, the ones who handed over their riches to make the likes of a golden calf. I clutch to my idols in their original form. I do not trust a maker of any sorts with my valuables, I trust only myself. I adorn myself in them.

II.

I wonder sometimes if all the Israelites gave Aaron their jewelry on that day, or if there were some who held back because an idol in their hands was better than one melded with a hundred thousand other idols.

III.

Remember when Rachel hid the idols of her father’s household in her satchel? She carried them with her just in case. Just in case God failed her, just in case He didn’t come through, just in case the unseen God wasn’t as dependable as the seen gods. Just in case He didn’t give her what she wanted.

IV.

Sometimes the only way you can spot an idol is to have it wrenched from your hands. Empty hands can reveal idolatry.

V.

Sometimes idols in the ancient Near East were the big kind you envision in temples, massive stone or golden statues with people prostrate around them in every form. But common ones were small ones, pocketed bits of clay and wood and rock—things they could pull from their pockets at a moments notice, to fill the void, cure boredom, feel validated, and seek answers from.

VI.

The message to the idol worshipper is the same as to the law worshipper, the same to the younger son as to the elder, the same to the Gentile as to the Jew: that idol and that law will only reveal your need for a Savior and a Father.

VII.

Underneath the gold and silver plated idols was the stuff of the earth: clay, wood, rock. All that glitters is not gold. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”
Isaiah 30:22

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