June 27, 2015


I just went for a run, which means I just listened to all of my kick butt music. I love me some hardcore music as I race to do my 2-3 miles around the neighborhood. I think I look like Rocky. Everybody else thinks I look like a zombie talking to herself.

So I had this song on repeat:

Until the referee rings the bell, Until both your eyes start to swell, Until the crowd goes home, What we gonna do ya'll? Give 'em hell -Turn their heads, Gonna live life till we're dead! Give me scars, Give me pain! Then they'll say to me, say to me, say to me - There goes a fighter! There goes a fighter! This one's a fighter! That's what they'll say to me, say to me, say to me, This one's a fighter.  
- The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes
I love that song!!! I get so pumped! Wanna know why? Because I AM A FIGHTER!!! And so are you! And as I was jammin' out to this song (and feeling so stinkin' tough because of the "give 'em hell" line - not gonna lie), I couldn't help but think about these verses...
1 Corinthians 9:26: 24: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control..." 
1 Timothy 6:12: "Fight the good fight of the faith..." 
Proverbs 24:16: "For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity." 
Psalm 3:3: "But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head."
Ya'll, our adversary the Devil is out to utterly destroy us. But we (those of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior) have the HOLY SPIRIT living inside of us - the same Spirit that Ephesians says raised Christ from the dead. So YOU ARE A FIGHTER! Fight WITH Him, not against Him.

What do I mean? Lean into Him, Surrender to Him, Listen to Him. React the way He would react. Live the way He would live. Do things the way He would do things.

And always remember, you are NOT alone. Hebrews says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever and that He will NEVER leave your side.

So that anxiety, depression, insecurity, anger, addiction, lust, laziness, control, selfishness, lying, personality disorder, harshness, bitterness, gossip, hurt, betrayal - that you don't think you can ever get over? Think again.

Ephesians 1: 15-20: "For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places..."

This ONE's a Fighter.

June 26, 2015

Your Good Life is Trash

So I really wanted to take a nap (honesty), but my blogs come in bursts of angsts and I just had one. So here we go :)

My friend just texted me a few minutes ago. She was wrestling with the fact that she just told "her" story and is now paranoid that "her" story is going to ruin "her" reputation.

(Really quick rabbit trail: Your story is your story. Own it! Just as Paul owned and shared about his thorn in the flesh, so should you when God says it's time!!! Your thorn, your story, is the dark backdrop that illuminates the scandalous grace of Jesus! Preach it! If you don't have a dark backdrop, then you can't share about Jesus's grace because it has nothing to stand in contrast to and you've missed the Gospel.)

Here was my response:
You will always feel a little exposed. Even now when I talk about [my story] at times, I feel exposed because mental illness [or whatever your story is - mine just so happens to include mental illness] is just so personal. And that's why no one talks about it. There will always be a stigma. So whenever you share, you will either free people up or cause people to look at you funny. You just have to decide which is more important to you: Their freedom or your reputation. But no one can take your character and these struggles are what are making you into the wonderful woman that you are! So own them! But also remember that there is no rush to share everything at once. Go at your own pace. Share as much as you are ready to share. But you are NOT crazy. You are brave and courageous for facing these struggles and you are going to be FREE! You will learn through this whole process that the only opinion that matters is God's. That sounds so cliche - but it's true! And He has already declared you HIS - you are LOVED, ACCEPTED, WORTHY, SECURE. There is a verse in Psalms that says HE is the lifter of our heads. I love that verse!!! You can live with your head lifted high because HE is your HEALER! We all have a lot of crazy but we want to mask it. It's the difference between living free and living in bondage. The most free people are those who don't hide their depravity and as a result can celebrate the absolute and extravagant goodness of the Gospel.And that right there triggers my angst: The people who cannot (will not) face their own depravity, their own failures, their own shortcomings because I truly believe they will fall to pieces. Their perceived "good" reputation is the glue that is holding them together emotionally and if that glue ever disintegrates, they won't know who they are anymore.

I just read this in Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman:
Good [people] can depend on their good reputation to meet their desperate need for love.


Our good reputations are our identities. It's what we are known for...good parenting, good kids, good disciplines, good behavior, good grades, good choices, good marriage, good clothes, good ministry, good church, good house, good job, good car, good vacations, good college, good work ethic, good friends, good ____________. We are good. And if we cease to be "good", we cease to be us. So when our "goodness" is challenged, it can NEVER be our fault because then we are no longer good. Yikes. Do you see how dangerous this is? Scripture screams at us in Romans 3 that "There’s nobody living right, not even one" (The Message). And we say we believe that. But when was the last time you were brutally, uncomfortably, irrationally, absolutely nothing-to-lose honest? When? Like willing to be told you were wrong, have been wrong, were never right honest?

Ya'll, your "good" reputation is going to keep you living in bondage. It will isolate you. You will never be able to be fully and completely known because you won't want anyone getting too close and potentially seeing that you aren't good. But NO ONE IS GOOD. Nope.

If you are getting nervous thinking I am saying to flaunt your sin, then you are who this blog is written to (and Romans 6, 7, and 8 - I guess Paul and I share the same angst). Yes you, my love. And bless your heart. Be free! Own your freakin train-wreck of a life because then and only then can you be healed and free and then and only then can you love like Jesus loved! And then and only then can you live the life He calls us to live!

See, if you are obsessed with goodness, then that's all you are going to expect from yourself and from other people. And instead of sin and failure pushing you to the cross, it is going to push you further away because you will feel the pressure to "fix it" yourself. You are a PR dream come true, but a Gospel nightmare. And that's miserable. Because Jeremiah 17:9 says we are incapable of being good. And Isaiah says our goodness is filthy. So you are preaching a works based Salvation and Sanctification. You will live an up-tight, fear-driven life because of the fact that you have never experienced the scandalous love, acceptance, grace and forgiveness of Jesus even though you claim to have.

If we could only see ourselves as Christ does. Then we could live as Christ lived. But we can't. And so we don't. And we perpetuate that sad cycle of living to the next generation. And people are leaving the church faster than they are coming. And I don't blame them.

Oh, that is my angst. That we would embrace Honesty. Vulnerability. Gospel preaching, grace living, help me Jesus screaming lives. Cause that's what He expects. Not my goodness. No. Never that. But my utter and complete brokenness smothered in His perfect life. Only that. Cause only when I can stop hiding behind my goodness can He live His life through me.
But You, Oh LORD, are a Shield about me, my glory and the Lifter of My Head. Psalm 3:3 (ESV)

June 23, 2015

Jesus Smelled Like Smoke

Ya’ll, I think if Jesus walked the earth today, He would wreak of smoke. Wanna know why? Because He would hang around Smokers. And Homosexuals. And Alcoholics. And Drug-Addicts. And Liars. And Cheaters. And the Homeless. And the Divorced. And the Lost. And the Hurting. And the Broken. (We don't all smoke, but you get the idea.)

You know I find it interesting that as Believers, we too often represent this guy: “Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side” (emphasis mine). Anyone know where that section of Scripture is from? Anyone? Anyone? (Sorry - I crack myself up sometimes when I write these things.) It’s from the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A Dude (a Jewish Man - which according to racial code in that day, would be the top of the totem pole) was headed on a journey and was mugged. Three guys saw him: A Priest (Jew), a Levite (Jew), and a Samaritan (the bottom of the totem pole in those days). The only one who helped him was the Samaritan (not a lot needs written here - just let that simmer).

The fact that a Priest and a Levite passed by this broken, messed up, dirty, hurting man just kills me. But how often do we do this as we walk into the doors of our churches? We pull into the parking lot, get out of the car, and pass by hurting people almost instantly. Then we make sure to leave a seat or two between "us" and "them". Now I realize most people “fake it”, but some don’t! And are we even trying to see through the masks or are we too comfortable staying clean and put together?

I will never forget the day I encouraged my friend to come back to church. She had been out for a while. Too long. She told me she was coming just as she was. In her t-shirt and basketball shorts. I have no idea what all she had been involved in to that point, I just wanted her in the service. And so I waited in the parking lot. As soon as I saw her pull in, I went running to her and just hugged her. She wreaked of smoke. We walked into the service and I experienced one of the more powerful lessons I have ever been taught by Jesus. While we were singing, both of her hands were in the air. And I sobbed. Why? Because Jesus met her where she was and walked her in the doors and sat her down and just loved on her. How did He do that? Through ME! Ya’ll, I am not tooting my own horn - but c’mon! Don’t we want to be a part of that? Don’t we want to have that kind of legacy???

Bryant and I get invited to a lot of birthday parties that are mainly made up of people who don’t know Jesus. And I LOVE it! Usually they all know we are (drumroll please) “The Pastor and His Wife” (gag), and I don’t like that, mainly because people start to act differently. So I try to set the tone right away. I find the people off to the corner secretly smoking and walk over and introduce myself. I make sure to sit next to the designated “atheist” family member and engage in conversations about everything but church. I do what I need to do to establish a connection because isn’t that what Jesus did?

I think we fear “the others” because we don’t want to be associated with the mess. We don’t want to get messy. What will the other Believers think? That I’m condoning the behavior? That I’m participating? Won’t the person I’m with think it’s okay to live a certain way? Don’t I just need to tell them the Truth?

Oh my sweet brothers and sisters. Have we forgotten the Gospel? The Gospels? Where Jesus modeled building relationships and fostering trust? Where Jesus met people right.where.they.are? Where he cared for them and not His own reputation? He didn’t cater to the expectations of the religious. He ministered to the broken. And that’s what I want to do. I’ve lived too long listening to my fear and not to the voice of Jesus. I’ve been more interested in people knowing first off that I don’t agree with their lifestyles before they know I actually love them. I’ve pushed people closer to Hell than to Jesus. And I’m over it.

You want to join me? It’s uncomfortable. I don’t always get it right. But I make sure to always smell like smoke. Cause I think Jesus did too.