Tag Archives: Jesus

When Rihanna And Jesus Say The Same Thing

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This song has been in my head all week. Gauging from your response to my most recent post, many of you feel like you are waiting for something. I thought I’d re-share this post as it seems to be a fitting follow up.

I’ve been thinking about Rihanna a lot these past few days. Maybe because I accidentally dyed my hair BRIGHT red two nights ago. Or perhaps because I wrote about Chris Brown recently. Mostly she is on my mind because I heard a song of hers when I was running errands that I haven’t been able to shake. I don’t like all of her stuff, but these words…

I know that Rihanna’s lyrics are about some guy & not Jesus, but they so perfectly articulate what my dialogue with Jesus seems to be like these days.

I threw my hands in the air and said,

‘Show me something.’

He said, ‘If you dare, come a little closer.’ 

-Rihanna, “Stay”

You know that verse in Psalm that says…”I waited patiently for the Lord…”?  Yea, not so much. That hasn’t been my attitude lately. I’ve been a little less King David and a bit more Rihanna about it. Throwing my hands in the air and telling God to show me something.

Show me what you are doing about my adoption.

Show me your plans for these backlogged dreams to come to pass.

Show me why hope hurts…still.

Show me where the breakthrough will come from.

Show me how I am supposed to find rest for this weary heart.

Hands in the air & yelling at God to show me. Prove it, God. Show me the reason I am still here.That is where I’ve been these past few weeks. Giving the Israelites in the Old Testament some stiff competition in the doubting department. My demands are not met with an excuse for His delay, summary of His plan or a rebuke my attitude.

My hands in the air are met with an invitation.

If you dare, come a little closer.

If I drop my demands. If I dare drop my pain and my sense of entitlement. If I dare…to come closer. To push in instead of push away. That is what Jesus keeps saying to me … come closer.

Closer to His heart. Closer to His generous nature. Closer to the one who resolves every internal conflict I have. Why? Why should I come closer?

Because in His presence is fullness of joy. The joy I am so thirsty for.

Because at His right hand are pleasures forever. The satisfaction I am craving.

Because no good thing does He withhold from me. God is not stingy with me. He has not forgotten.

Even more than those things, I need to draw closer because He loves me. With my hands in the air and my ultimatums – He still loves me. No matter how long I have been walking with God or how far I have come, I need to be loved. I never outgrow my need to hear Jesus tell me He loves me.

I’m not sure who you are, if you hate Rihanna or if your voice is hoarse from screaming your demands to God. But, I do know that you need to be loved too. So, take another risk & be daring.

Put down your stiff arms and listen past your own voice yelling. Do you hear it? Do you hear His invitation to you?

…He said, “If you dare, come a little closer…”

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You Just Have To Keep Breathing

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Sometimes what we need is simply to remember to take the next breath. Life can throw hard punches to all of us. The wind gets knocked out of our souls and we feel our spirits staggering to regain footing. Panic, pain and dread creep in as we gasp for air. We just need to catch our breath…

I had a moment this week where insecurity took my breath away. Funny, I wrote a post a few weeks ago about uniqueness and how we can be so bogged down trying to find our own brand of “special”. Yet here I was, giving into the temptation to look at a peer and compare myself.

Each person has their own demons they struggle with. My insecurity isn’t so much what other people think about me, the number on a scale or if I am liked. The battle I face is an internal one. There are times where I feel insecure about how my personality comes off or if my failures will define me.

This isn’t embarrassing for me to share because I know that we all have our own places of vulnerability – the place we loose our breath. Maybe it is low self-esteem, feeling isolated, fear of the unknown or being hyper-performance driven.

The holidays bring pain for many people whose vulnerabilities are centered around their families. Perhaps you experienced an abusive childhood, absent parents, you are single and long for a family of your own.

I don’t know what your is, but you do. You know the cause of your stress, anxiety and makes you want to switch off.

When I feel that heaviness creeping in I remember that this isn’t the way I was meant to live. The unsettiling tide of dread and suffocating situations do not have to be my normal. I remind myself to breathe.

I slow down & remember that my life is bigger than this problem I am facing.

I remind myself that I can choose to let go of the burden I am carrying.

My thoughts focus back on what I truly value & what matters to me the most.

I also meditate & recite this passage:

“… For I am convinced that neither death nor life,

neither angels nor demons,

neither present nor future, nor any powers,

neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– Romans 8:37

If you don’t have something to cling to in those moments of vulnerable pain, I recommend meditating on this. Not one single thing – not terminal illness, personal failure, abusive pasts, an unknown future, addictions, no situation or circumstance, nothing you could have done could separate you from Love.

When I take time to slowly breath and meditate on that Truth, I find myself refreshed and ready to walk through whatever is confronting me.

Some of you may need professional help to assist you in catching your breath again. Get it, no shame in that.

Most of us though simply need to remember that whatever is weighing us down doesn’t really own us. We simply need to keep breathing and remember that Love is holding us all the way.

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7,000 reasons your uniqueness may be plagiarism

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I live in America where there is a continual conversation about one’s individuality. We love to take tests to see what our strengths and skills are. Shelves are full of books to help us discover our unique composition and  how to capitalize on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for self-awareness. According to Myers Briggs I am an ENTP, which pretty much nails me. Knowing who we are is essential to understanding what we were made to do and how we were made to do it, but it is also where the problem comes in.

What is the problem?

I think we are each put on this earth to accomplish a certain task. You can call it what you want – destiny, mission or calling. I believe that our being here serves a purpose and that we are each divinely made to see that accomplished. My own belief is that God hand-crafted each of us and therefore every life is of deep significance.

The flaw with this mindset is when we somehow believe that it means we are going to be stand-alone unique. Our territory of gifting can’t be shared with someone else or our purpose is no longer special.

Say I am a great baker and I meet another great baker in my town. Shoot. This won’t do. I then decide  that I should become the best cupcake baker to set myself apart. Along comes the massive cupcake trend. Gotta specialize and separate myself from the pack again. Now I only do sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan cupcakes…

Clearly I am not really a baker, but you get my point. This idea that we are the only one called to do what is in our heart keeps us constantly striving to find a new specialty. Every time I find a new blog that has a similar feel and perspective as mine it is tempting to throw in the towel.  Especially if it is better than mine. Bah, I’m not playing second fiddle. I am created for a unique mission and if they have this one covered then this must not really be my mission. And just like that I have convinced myself I need to find something new to be ‘unique’ at. If another person is doing a similar to me, then I must be doing the wrong thing.

Because I am one in a million. At least that’s what they say. 

I was at a conference in August and Jeff Goins said this:

” The earth has 7 billion people on it. If you are one in a million, then there are 7,000 people just like you.” 

Crap. I just lost my edge. And so did you.

Sure, they aren’t just like me. They probably aren’t from Texas, born on my same birthday, and they sure as heck better not be married to my husband. They are versions of me though. As much as it pains me to admit it, they are often better versions of me.

Thanks to the internet we have endless ways to compare and measure ourselves against others. That brilliant idea we have to be entirely original  is killed by a simple google search. We find blueprints of another’s dreams and ideas that make ours seem like plagiarism.

Flawed thinking would cause me to believe my mission and dream are taken. I need to find a new one now – finders keepers and all that. With a heavy heart I go back to the drawing board to sketch out a different version of myself. One that isn’t taken.

Only recently have I recognized this flawed thinking in myself. Another person with my same strengths and ambitions automatically becomes a threat. Why do I believe that unless I am unparalleled then I am not  profoundly meaningful?

There are over 3 million nurses and nearly 4 million teachers in the United States. Nothing profound or distinct about being 1 of 3,000,000. Unless you are the patient who depends on that one nurse’s hopeful smile. Or the student who decided to try college at the encouragement of that one teacher.

I’ve decided that being unique isn’t so important. Instead I am going to focus on being meaningful, helpful and kind. —> click to tweet. 

All of humanity desires to know they are special. Myself included. I am just changing my definition of what “special” means.

So, I am raising my glass to all of us. All of us who will put down the endless striving that drives us to fight for a piece of earth all to ourselves. Cheers to a movement of sharing our advantage in hopes that we can – together – make this world a better place. 

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The Dirty Gospel : no fairy tales here

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( To read the entire Dirty Gospel series click here )

When I was growing up,  fairy tales were the stories of choice for me. (Well, fairy tales and Ramona Quimby books) I’m guessing you had a thing for them too. Maybe you loved the hero, the adventure, a villan’s defeat, or the princess who is discovered in an ordinary girl. Personally I liked the talking animals.

This week is the final post in The Dirty Gospel series. I’m only 31 years old, but experience has already taught me that real life reads nothing like a fairy tale. The storylines twist and turn until we are nauseous with fear and anxiety. The battles we face leave us broken, bruised and weary. It doesn’t always end with “they lived happily ever after”.

Obviously Heaven is the happiest ending one could have, but our life here on earth is messy. That is why this Gospel is so dirty. Worn down by the tears of distraught saints and lonely martyrs. Clung to by the addict’s knuckles that are white with fear in hopes that there is indeed One who can see into this darkness and find him.

The cross secured victory for every battle we could face – internal or external.

Jesus didn’t come so that we could have “happy”. He came so that we could have Him. —> click to tweet.

The Gospel is culminated in this one phrase : It Is Finished.

The shame that mocks you. It’s finished.

Hate towards our enemies. Finished.

Fear that keeps you from dreaming. Finished.

Striving for a perfect version of you. Finished. 

Cycles of depression that rob your days. Finished.

Lies that you have a deficit of worth. Those lies are finished.

Death itself? That is finished too.

So many of you responded to Bethany’s story a few weeks ago. The PET scan results came back for her husband this week. The cancer has spread and the tumors have gotten bigger. Real life, real pain. Shootings, suicides, famine, poverty, slavery…so much is broken in this world of ours.

We don’t need a fairy god mother to give us a new dress. We need a Savior who is knee deep in our battles. One who holds us tight when we kick, bite and smell of our vices. A God who talks us down from our ledges and out of our pits.

We may not have our “happily ever after” on earth. Some may die sooner than we would like. Spouses may not show up despite our most bitter and desperate tears. Hope may be deferred and life may not seem fair. There are moments it feels like all Hell breaks loose around us.

But our days are anchored. Securely fastened to a Truth that has survived every pain. Our Gospel is more than living days of isolated happiness. It is an eternal thread that links a heritage more colorful and vast than we can imagine.

The Dirty Gospel hinges on the most powerful sentence ever said. It is finished. And it is.

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The Dirty Gospel : When God Disappears

IMG_5124We are well on our way into the Dirty Gospel series. If you are new here, grab your coffee and catch up on loss & depression, a severe mercy, and why I believe God is not fair.

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This is a picture of my living room and in many ways what my relationship with God feels like sometimes. It is empty and God is not to be found. Sure, there are reminders like boots on the floor that He is here somewhere, but I can’t see Him.

Back in college it seemed that God was everywhere I looked. His voice sounded so near and His presence was unmistakably close. I didn’t have to look for Him. He was just everywhere. I have had other times in my life since then that God has been beyond evident. I love those seasons where I can feel God with me.

But, something happens between those obvious moments with God. He seems to disappear…God hides.

Sure, He is around still. I just can’t find Him.

I read the Bible and it feels dry. I pray and can’t seem to go more than two sentences before I completely loose my train of thought due to disengagement. God’s voice begins to feel more like a rumor than a reality.

Is this some cruel joke? Did God manipulate my emotions and then check out?

What used to be endless journaling trying to catch all the dreams God was putting in my heart turned into blank pages with nothing to be written. God is silent.

These dips in my relationship with God used to throw me for a loop. I would get confused and doubtful if anything I had previously experienced had been real. How could I depend on a God that seems bi-polar at times. Is God flakey?

I’ve come to discover that these silent moments where God appears to be missing are when the Gospel does a deep work in me. I need the “highs” with God, but I need the depth too.

Experiencing God produces a desire for Him, seeking God produces faith in Him. —> click to tweet

When God disappears, I have to make deliberate and non-emotional steps to seek Him. My faith becomes stronger and there is a steadfastness that builds up like a deep anchor in my soul. I learn how to believe that He is with me when I cannot see Him.

I need that skill on weeks like this one. My friend Stevie died of brain cancer. Our adoption hit a new snag and it appears to be delayed even longer…

Times like these, I am thankful that God seems to disappear from time to time. I have learned the defining truth that when I seek Him I will find Him. I will find Him late in the night when I don’t think I have what it takes to obey what He is asking of me. I will find Him in the pain that seems unbearable.

The Gospel is dirty because it makes us dig deeper into the scary, painful and fearful places. And in that process of digging we realize that God has actually never left.

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The Dirty Gospel : God Isn’t Fair

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I discovered this weekend that I hate the woman Jesus healed. I’ll back up just a second for a few of you new readers. We are in the middle of a series called The Dirty Gospel. Loss & Depression then a post about God’s love being a severe and painful mercy.

This past weekend I was at World Mandate conference (more on that Thursday). Louie Giglio spoke on Friday night about the woman with the issue of blood in Luke 8. But this is the part that stuck out to me:

A man named Jairus pleaded with Jesus to come and heal his dying daughter. On their way the woman with the issue of blood reached out and touched Jesus. At that moment Jesus stopped and healed that woman. Yippee, right?

Not for Jairus. While this woman was getting her healing, a messenger came and told Jairus that his daughter was dead. Jesus was too late. Jairus was first and she cut in line. This is where I realized that I despised this woman.

Well, not this actual woman. But what she represents in my life. All those times where I am begging God, but it seems that He is too busy helping others. I am crying about my financial lack, only to learn that someone else received a significant amount of money as a random gift. What the heck, God? It isn’t fair that they have so much and I have so little.

We have been in the process of adopting for almost four years. FOUR years. In that time I have seen so many families bring home their little kids. I guess Jesus was too busy helping them that He forgot about my waiting family. They only had to wait a year. It isn’t fair.

We planted a church in a city that didn’t seem to care about God. In our first few months in Seattle we talked to 2,000 people about Jesus. Want to know how many came to church? Two. Just two out of two thousand. Meanwhile in another American city, revival is breaking out and churches are growing out of their spaces. God, we are doing what you asked us to do. Why isn’t anything happening? This isn’t fair.

Maybe for you, it is marriage. Or family. Your friends seem to be having all the luck with romance and babies. Perhaps you have been working hard in your career only to watch a co-worker get the promotion.

Waiting for God to move, only to watch Him part the waters for someone else. All the while, we feel like we are dying just like the daughter did. Jesus was too late. He wasn’t fair.

I have died waiting for a Savior who seems to have gotten distracted.

When I see people around me getting what they are desperately seeking from God, I cringe. Because in my little way of thinking I somehow conclude there is now less for me. Maybe Jesus used up all His magic sprinkles for their miracle. Will Jesus run out of His miracles before He gets around to me?

I think that when Jesus is working on behalf of someone else, it means I am still sitting on the to-do list. Maybe He will get around to me, maybe not. Fingers crossed I don’t die waiting to find out.

Then I remember the truth and I take heart.

The story ends with Jesus going to Jairus’ daughter and raising her from the dead. Jesus didn’t just show His power in her life by healing her. He did something bigger and more unexpected.

And that’s what we hope in. There are days it feels like we watch another get our blessing. The spouse we want, the kids we crave, the bank account we dream of, the job we’ve worked hard for and the recognition we think we deserve. And maybe it isn’t fair.

Fair = reasonable. Not sure about you, but I’m glad God isn’t reasonable when it comes to the Gospel. I don’t deserve it and if He was fair then I’d be a goner.

The Gospel isn’t fair. It is more than that. It is ample, generous, and extravagant. —> click to tweet.

Sure, sometimes waiting for God kills us. It kills our flesh to make room for something bigger. If we watch a dream die, it is because God is going to call forth something bigger and more grand than we were ever imagining.

Remember how only two out of two thousand came to church? God did a miracle with those two girls. He birthed a church. They gathered a critical mass of friends and our church began to grow and take off. What seemed like death was God’s way of bringing life.

The Gospel is dirty because it kills us sometimes. It kills our misperceptions and wrong expectations. It kills our selfish ambitions and pride. But, God never leaves us dead. He raises us up into the life He has destined for us.

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