Just Not Today

The angry thunder bolts, runs through the ground with its electricity and you can feel the tingling in your skin right down to the very bones that keep you steady in the storm. You close your eyes to hear the rumbling through the sky while imagining the dark clouds rippling in your ceiling. Just when you feel ready to try again, the thunder yells courageously, and you lie on the floor, telling yourself you’ll try again tomorrow when weather conditions permit.

The storm decided what your day was going to look like. Your head tells you that the storm is what is preventing you from living and you seem to have convinced yourself of this. You wake up the next day with every intention of living, doing what you told yourself you needed to do, but it is still storming. You crawl back in bed, almost too naturally, and close your eyes, telling yourself you’ll try again tomorrow when weather conditions permit. 

But what if the storm lasts for days, or weeks, or months. You get used to the routine of waking up to the storm, that it becomes routine to get back into bed and tell yourself that when circumstances change, you will do something. Anything. Everything. Just not today.

The storm starts to become all you know and you find comfort in it. You have a credible reason to stay in bed because there is no use in going outside. It is dangerous. It could hurt you. You imagine every possible scenario that could happen if you walked into the dark, cloudy, loud, ruthless storm. Staying in bed is comforting because you know it is safe and warm. You might not be living, but you are comfortable. And that is what matters to you at this moment. 

When the storm turns into a light drizzle and the clouds start to disappear and a spotlight of bright sun beams through your closed curtains, you get hopeful. But you’ve stayed in bed for so long that your legs forget how to move when you try to reach for the floor. So you tell yourself that a drizzle isn’t worth getting out of bed for. You’ll work on getting your legs to work tomorrow when the sky is worth going outside for. You tell yourself you’ll try again tomorrow when weather conditions permit.

Finally, you wake up and find it hard to open your eyes. The sun is shining brightly through your half-closed curtains. You scrunch your face as you turn away from the sunshine. Your eyes start to water because they aren’t used to looking at the sun and it hurts. You never thought your eyes would forget how to look at the light, so you close them again and wait for another storm. You tell yourself you’ll try again tomorrow when weather conditions permit.

Can Someone Who is Saved Return to Their Old Lifestyle of Sin?

If you were to ask me “how are you doing in your walk with Christ?” around this time last year, I would have joyfully told you that I was doing better than I had been in my entire life. I was fulfilled.

I was joyful because I had laid my old self, the one that numbed every conviction, at the foot of the Cross. I became convicted to invest deeply into all areas of my life. This became possible because I devoted to Christ my best and everything else that required my time fell into place like He promises in His Word. Knowing what it finally felt like to rest in the arms of Jesus was an awakening yet peaceful experience. 

But sometimes hard things happen. And sin happens. And not that going through hard things is an excuse, but it offers context for what I want to discuss with you. 

When hard things happen in our lives as Christians, we expect our immediate response to be to run into the arms of Christ. This is what our Christian leaders teach us. This is the type of example we tend to see in our Bible studies, testimonies, and our churches. This is what we ultimately hope for.

What happens when we don’t think fast enough? What happens when hard things trigger us into our old, sinful ways, apart from Christ?

One thought that happens to people when sin is triggered by hard things is the questioning of their salvation. It can be scandalous to say, but I had many sleepless nights wondering why I was turning to the things that I had once given up in Christ, and why “God” wasn’t pointing me in the right direction or leading me out of my sin. 

“If I was really saved, I wouldn’t be allowing other things back into my heart which pulled me away from God in the first place.” We (Christians) sometimes find ourselves in a routine of sin and sadness, and it seems impossible to get back on track. 

Biblically, it IS hard to get back on track. In fact, one of the hardest scriptures to interpret in the New Testament speaks to this. 

Hebrews 6: 4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

This verse states something very hard to hear: It is impossible for someone who was enlightened by Christ to fall away and be renewed again. Now, before you stop and get angry by these words, please keep reading. I think this will make sense to you. 

1) Does this text apply to Christians? 

I do not believe the Bible is contradictory, for the Bible states several times why someone cannot lose their salvation.

No.

Matter.

What.

“But Faith, you just told me that I can lose my salvation!” No. No. No. That is not what I am saying.

Let’s start by defining what a Christian is not. A “Christian” is not a person who has been raised in a Christian family. A Christian is not someone who prays. A Christian is not someone who was baptized. In context to Hebrews, a Christian is not someone who was enlightened by the Holy Spirit, a Christian is not someone who has experienced heavenly gifts, and a Christian is not even someone who reads the Bible.

A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior and possesses the Holy Spirit, as stated in the Bible several times.

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Acts 16:31: “And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.'”

Ephesians 2:8–9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The question remains, “Is it impossible for them [those who were once enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gifts, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God] to be renewed to receive repentance… again? If they had never repented in the first place, why talk about renewal? Does this contradict itself?” 

Can someone fall after being saved? Can someone like you or me return? The answer all the way through the Bible is “yes.”

When you are saved, sometimes you will allow other things into your heart which pull you away from God and it feels impossible to get back.  When I shared the Hebrews verse above, it was not to scare you but to encourage you that if your faith is real and genuine, you will always fall back into Christ. He is actively pursuing you in every season of your life. Our foundation in Christ determines how quickly we can turn around from sin, repent, and accept grace. 

The foundation of our salvation does not lie in the things I stated above- such as a person who has been raised in a Christian family, someone who was baptized, someone who was enlightened by the Holy Spirit, etc. 

2) The TRUTH of the Gospel is that salvation is irrevocable.

I would like to start by using strong examples from the Bible, why I believe the TRUTH of the Gospel is that salvation is irrevocable.

Let’s take Solomon for example. Solomon, in the beginning, was with God. His heart was after God and his commands. He loved God. But Solomon’s heart later was turned away from God due to adultery and following after other gods. (1 Kings)

Peter denied the Lord three times at an extremely critical moment in the Bible, right before Christ’s crucifixion. Yet, he was redeemed, preached the first gospel sermon, and became an elder.

Repentance becomes impossible when a person has been fully exposed to the blessings of God’s people, but falls away through deliberate unbelief and denial of Christ.- Steven J. Cole

Paul consistently tells Timothy to be careful of certain lifestyles and pleasures because it could destroy his faith. When one’s faith is destroyed, it it possible for them to get to where they initially were with God?

The difference between the people referred to in Hebrews and real Christians have nothing to do with their experiences with God. Some people will know everything there is to know about salvation, experience Holy gifts, and never fully accept the grace God gives when they fall into sin. When you do not accept grace, you do not fully believe that Christ died for your sins. 

Salvation = Grace

David fell in his adultery with Bathsheba, but he picked himself back up through the grace of God. He sinned once again by going against God’s command, but again he turned around. NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES HE FELL, HE ALWAYS CAME BACK TO CHRIST and CHRIST NEVER LEFT DAVID.  The reason we remember David as a great king is not the perfection of his life, but the fact that he loved God so much that after the world allured and misled him, he still chose Christ.

How can you acknowledge and test your faith when hard things happen?

2 Corinthians 13:5 says “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?”

Some questions to ask yourself are these:

Are you professing faith in your life but have no evidence of fruit from it?

Do you feel convicted to repent when you sin?

Is your heart hard?

Do you love Christ and others fully?

Are you saddened and dismantled because of the sin in your life?

You may backslide several times. This does not mean your salvation is invalid. Many people in the Bible have fallen into patterns of sin, over and over again. However, if the general pattern of our life is not becoming more like Christ and the Holy Spirit is not leading us to change, these questions are vital in questioning our salvation.

Old patterns of sin will gradually diminish and be replaced with Godly patterns of living. 

We can not lose hope because we still sin.  Sin has consequences, but with the Holy Spirit, we will quickly grow tired and weary from our sin.

God is patient with you and He will complete his work in you.

 

Covering Your Tracks

I am going to let you in on a pretty dirty part of my soul. This is something I have struggled with ever since I came to college and became a Christian. It’s not pretty. It’s profoundly embarrassing. I never truly recognized it as sin until recently, when a friend called me out on it pretty intensely. 

I denied it. 

Then I was forced to meditate on it. I prayed about it. I was convicted that this was utterly true and stagnating my walk with Christ in an abundant of different ways.

It was crushing my witness.

Whoah. “So what is it?”

I suffer from the debilitating sin of “covering my tracks.”

Let me give you a little background.

I pride myself in being pretty transparent with people. In conversations, I am not afraid to talk about where I have been, what I have struggled with, and how Christ has gotten me through an abundance of trials. I also love learning how I can better myself, love Christ more, and love others well. 

Sounds pretty good, right?

As a Christian, I think we fall into this lie that we are never supposed to be tempted by sin. We might not mentally think that in our heads, but subconsciously, we feel as if certain desires are completely removed from us the minute we ask Jesus into our hearts.

There are few things further from the truth than that statement. 

What happens when we fall into sin and people are looking up to us as role models? What happens when we feel like no one can know about certain sins because they are not “normal” sins that Christians deal with. What happens when you struggle with something way more intensely than your other Christian friends do?

We cover our tracks. Well, at least I do. 

What does “covering our tracks look like?” Burying our sin. Telling people to take down their stories on Snapchat. Having people remove certain pictures from Instagram so people won’t know you were there. Texting that boy and telling him to NEVER tell anyone what happened. Doing it again. Lying to our friends. Pushing it so deep down that it becomes unreal to ourselves.  

When we “cover out tracks,” we are unable to receive the accountability we need from our friends. We are unable to hold ourselves to a higher standard because we become numb to our sins. We are unable to give advice without being a total hypocrite. 

How do we overcome this?

We start by defeating pride in our life. Covering our tracks stems from a place of deep rooted pride in who we want to be, but are not authentically. We need to MOURN our sins, even if we do not feel completely saddened by it because we have buried it so deep. We need to pray for forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

If that seems tough, I am about to give you an even tougher task.

Be honest with your friends. Tell them what you have been truly struggling with. Do not sugar coat it. Be as authentic as you can. Cry. Be angry with yourself. It is okay. Let those buried feelings be unmasked and naked. 

Then you are held accountable. You are finally held to the standard that you need to be held to. 

As Christians, we are called to a life of accountability. But how exactly is this done?

I mentioned earlier that I had never truly been called out on my sin until recently. Christians do not do a good job at holding their friends accountable. Let me tell you why:

Instead of holding our friends accountable, we  need to hold ourselves accountable for our friends. We can not be afraid of their brokenness. We can not be afraid of conflict. It is loving others so much that we are willing to surrender to the task of accountability. Actively knowing what is going on in our friends lives so we can have a deeper intimacy- one that might have a lot of real anger, tears, and brokenness. That is what it means to have a loving friendship.

And to the receiver of accountability (a.k.a. me in this story):

Pride makes us defensive and unable to receive criticism. Pride is blinding. Nobody offers you advice because they know it won’t end well if they do. Be quick to recognize the pride in your life. Be quick to apologize without an “I’m sorry….but…..” Stop obsessing over the opinions of others. When you “be” instead of “do,” your walk with Christ will speak for itself.

The Goodness of God in Suffering

Just a few months ago, my and my family’s life was radically turned upside down. If you read my blog post Life, Interrupted, you know exactly what I am talking about.

But if you are not sure, let me catch you up. Five months ago, I was walking in late to a meeting about an upcoming mission trip I was about to embark on with some of my best friends. As I was walking into the door, my mom called me. The only words I vividly remember hearing were “collapsed” “tumors” and “emergency room.” I ran to the bathroom (“straight out of a movie” type scene), called my best friend and we sat on the church bathroom floor and cried together. 

Later that week, I would drive home from college to spend a week in the hospital with my family. It was then confirmed that my mom had stage four colon cancer. 

Fast forward to June 2017. My mom had been in alternative treatments for her cancer, rotating between chemotherapy and natural remedies for the past four months. Right when things were under control, we found out she had blood clots all over her body. This would create a spiral of unwanted and unwelcomed hurdles for her body and the doctors to overcome.

We took a family road trip to Wyoming in the midst of all of this. A week after we got back, my mom landed in the hospital again- only this time she would suffer a heart attack and a stroke. However, there was nothing we could do for either because of her blood clots. With lots of pain medicine and prayers, we sat with her through a 14-hour heart attack. A week later, she was put into hospice care.

A lot of pain, sleepless nights, anxiety, and a cloud of sadness has swept over us, no doubt. This is by far the most difficult season of life we have ever gone through. The Bible shares a similar story of human suffering in the book of Job. The majority of the 42 chapters are about human suffering, but God’s sovereignty prevails in the end. Let me give you the rundown of Job’s life.

Written like a narrative, we have an inside look on a heavenly court debate between God and Satan. Satan approaches the Lord after roaming about on the Earth and the Lord speaks to him.

“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on Earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8 NIV)

Satan debates with God, saying that if He took everything away from his faithful servant, Job would curse his name. God knew that Job was totally devoted to Him. He told Satan he could take everything from him, but not lay a finger on him.

Satan did just that. Job’s cattle were stolen. His servants were murdered. His sons and daughters died because of a collapsed house. He suffered from misery. He had agonizing sores all over his body, unending pain, and a total loss of dignity. He even longed for death. 

He questions the same thing we tend to question a lot —why do bad things happen to good people? Job was inherently good. He had riches but still put God first. Like us, Job can only see our small, earthly view of suffering- he had no idea of God’s greater intention.

“Why does God bother giving light to the miserable, why bother keeping bitter people alive, those who want in the worst way to die, and can’t, who can’t imagine anything better than death, who count the day of their death and burial the happiest day of their life? What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?” Job 3:20-23 MSG

Much like Job, I have cried out to God asking what we have done to deserve this. I have begged to see tangible miracles, yet He stays quiet. I prayed in the Father’s name to have my mom completely healed. I have pleaded with God asking for her to be healthy enough to watch my little sister graduate high school, help me pick out my wedding dress one day, or buy an RV with my dad and hit the road when they retire like they had always planned.

“But he stands alone (singular and sovereign), and who can oppose him? He does whatever He pleases. He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans He still has in store. That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.” Job 23:12-17 NIV

Job did not feel silenced because of the dark times he was walking through. He communicated his distress and misery to God. He had a fervent fear for the Lord, like we are called to have. We are able to see the bigger picture that Job was never able to see. The truth is this: we see a tiny crack compared to the things God sees. He sees from the very beginning to the very end. If we knew all of the facts, we would always choose God’s way. Sometimes God ordains innocent suffering. He does this for many reasons:

  1. Our own strengthening: “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV 
  2. Patient endurance to help others“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NIV
  3. To bring God glory“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3 NIV

Job was prepared to DIE trusting in the name of God. It is true that sometimes we cannot trust God with our whole heart until our circumstances lead us into painful places. This is when we learn to lean not on our own understanding. THIS is how we obtain spiritual endurance much like Job did. Suffering also reveals the weakness of the things we usually lean on (friends, Netflix, food, alcohol, isolation).

We are brought to the end of ourselves through suffering.

God finally confronts Job in chapter 38, saying “Where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundation?” Job 38:4 NIV. 

After waiting 37 chapters for this moment, Job responded much how I would have.

“I’m speechless, in awe- words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” Job 40:3-5 MSG

Through it all, Job did not curse God’s name ONCE. While he was on Earth, he never had an idea about the conversation between God and Satan. This is where we are given a true example of walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

Our human reasoning is inadequate! I can not think of a single reason for God putting my family through the trials we have been through these past five months and the much harder times to come. Much like Job, I have sleeplessness, a broken spirit, lack of peace (Job 3:26), and fractured plans (Job 17:11).

I believe with my whole heart that Jesus can and will heal my mom. My eyes have been shifted, however, to ask God to do whatever brings Him the most glory. I cannot see His intentions, but I will trust Him today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life. This requires giving Him my everything, literally- my life, my worries, my time, my attitude, and the hardest- my family. 

He has a reasoning for your suffering. Most of the time, you will never get to see the bigger picture. But rest assured that in the midst of your anguish, His goodness will prevail.

The Art of Surrender

Have you ever been at a point in your life where you would do almost anything to think about nothing?

I have been in places where my mind felt like it had been overtaken with fear. Something had to give, so I decided to try running. I put my headphones in and blasted my music so loud that it was impossible to hear my own thoughts. I ran long and hard. For even a little while, I wasn’t filling my eyes with my Instagram feed and VSCO, I was filling them with sunsets and dandelions. Before I knew it, running had become like a drug to me. I could not go a day without it. I started running miles and miles. It seemed to be the only way to temporarily relieve my angst.

I am not telling you to take up running to relieve a very real pain that only God can heal. That is not the part of this story I want you to take away from. Pay attention to this:

sunsets and dandelions

You probably did not even give these words a second thought. Usually, neither would I. So often we forget what nature is and who created it.

My God is a star-breather, a moon setter, and a sunset painter.

Romans 1:19-20 (ESV) “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

When we saturate ourselves in God’s perfect handiwork, we take a step back. We stop holding a mirror to ourselves and we start seeing a reflection of God. No wonder being outside is therapeutic for people- it is not about us anymore. 

Do you ever go outside and think about all of the mistakes? Of course not. Ten times out of ten, we are admiring the glimmer of the ocean, the silhouette of a mountain, or the turquoise sky. We think about how glorious everything is. 

We surrender control. We slow down. We realize that everything grows gradually, as do we. 

There are times when we feel like there are useless seasons of our life- constantly waiting for the next thing. While we are single, we are anxious to be in a relationship. While we are married, we are anxious to have kids. We feel a sense of sadness and loneliness when we are not up to speed with everyone else around us. 

In a world where we are expected to have a degree by 23, a spouse by 24, kids by 25, and a career by 26, we need to stop looking in this temporary, misleading mirror.

Take a look at the untouched and authentic mirror God has given us. 

Just like we can’t stop rain, we can’t stop suffering. Just like we can’t stop darkness, we can’t stop pain. Sometimes we grow fast in these seasons and sometimes it takes longer. God gives us a perfect illustration for how we should cultivate love during these times.

Without darkness, there would be no light.

Without trials, there would be no dependence.

Without rain, there would be no sunshine.

Without pain, there would be no endurance.

Those hands that put the stars in the sky and are constantly holding the earth are the very same hands that bled for us. When we stand in awe of Christ’s workmanship, we see how flawless He is. The enemy has no place to make us fearful for what is to come.

Find Your Wild

Do you want to hear something really sad? Throughout middle and high school, I was ridiculed for being too much. I was too loud, too crazy, and too candid. I chose to dance while everyone else simply swayed, and I laughed obnoxiously at inappropriate times. I took risks. I was spontaneous. I was dangerous. I got into a lot of trouble (before I came to know Christ). I did not care. 

I was the wild girl.

At some point, their words got to me. The more I was told I was too much, the more I tried to lessen. My smile was not so upright anymore and my laugh became a little duller. I practiced speaking quieter in my mirror. I stopped expressing my opinions. I suppressed my emotions. I lightened my appetite. I conformed. I became less.

Now, I grew up believing a stereotype about Christian women. I thought they were required to be mild, tasteless, and bland. Never did I think the passionate, fearless, unpredictable, wild, untamed, risky, ambitious, brave, rebellious, outspoken, adventurous, eccentric, curious, and loud girl would have a place in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, what if I told you that I am all of these things and still follow Christ? What if I told you the wild girl is allowed in church? The loud girl can pray. The unpredictable girl can follow God’s plan for her life. The outspoken girl can encourage others. The curious girl can ask questions.

We can learn a lot from the wild, untamed, rebellious girls. Instead of using these attributes for temporary, worldly satisfaction, we can channel these qualities for the Kingdom of Heaven. Christianity would be a lot more radical. Our faith would become reckless and daring if we were rebellious in complying with the ways of the world. Instead of solely focusing on taming our sin, we could focus on becoming untamed in love. Living for Jesus would be an audacious affair.

If you are that girl, God gave you this vivacity for a reason. You are a blazing, hot fire. The world is going to tell you that what you do and what you stand for is too much. They might tell you your worship is too eccentric and the giving of your time is too bold.

Being a follower of Christ is all of these things… and much more.

Being a wild girl means that we have a deep and constant yearning for more. How immeasurable and supernatural is it that the only one who can satisfy this yearning in our soul is the One who CREATED it. We live our life through the One who gives us life.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come” FEARLESS.

“She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places” SPONTANEOUS.

“She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks” ECCENTRIC.

“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” BOLD.

“When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say” OUTSPOKEN.

“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard” RISKY.

“She senses the worth in her work” PASSIONATE.

“When it snows, she has no fear for her household” BRAVE.

Wild girl, you are going to be tempted to chase the stars. When you feel that longing, remember that there is nothing we need more desperately in this life than the One who launched those stars in that massive, endless sky.

Our creator made us wild and bold. He put sparks of curiosity in us. He created these things for HIS glory. Psalm 139 says “He perceives my thoughts from afar, that He is familiar with all my ways, and before a word is on my tongue, the Lord knows it completely.”

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast…

For you created my inmost being.” Psalm 139: 9-13

Trendy Christianity

The Bible has no disclaimer saying “this might offend you, read with caution.” Similarly, this post will have no disclaimer at the end telling you that what you read is “to each his own.”

Let me tell you something, Christian to Christian, believer to believer. Maybe you are not a believer, but you have noticed this trend with your Christian friends. Here it is: WE (Christians) ARE MIRRORING THE WORLD.

What? Let me explain.

In trying to be inclusive and loving to everyone, which in itself is a good thing, we are becoming no different than the world around us, except for the big fat Christian label we place on ourselves. This is dangerous.

With that being said…listen. The church is not for us. It is not a sanctuary for ourselves. The church’s purpose is to glorify the Most High, the Father of the Universe, the Creator of life. Its purpose is to learn about Him, to honor Him through our fellowship, to love in the name of Christ.

Hip music. Concerts. All black. MacBooks. Densely highlighted bibles. Big churches. Blogs. Coffee shops. Enos. Perfect Instagram’s. Bible apps. Cool shoes. Hebrew tattoos. Journals with pages and pages of calligraphy.

If you took all of it away, would you still be in love with Christ?

This has become a new and hazardous comfort zone for so many Christians (and non-Christians). Christianity now has a concrete “look.” We know what to do. We know what songs to sing. We know the cool bloggers and the trendy speakers. We know what to wear.

A couple of days ago, I attended the Passion Conference in Atlanta. A woman who I respect immensely, Beth Moore, came and spoke some powerful words. I was deeply convicted about something God had placed on my heart for months now. She alluded to this…

We, millennial Christians, are sacrificing the truth of the Christian faith for “love’s sake.”

The TRUTH that we are abandoning is this: we are no longer foreigners in this land. We blend in. We make following Christ easy, lukewarm, concrete, hip, and fun.

Let me tell you this. We are called to be foreigners, outsiders, temporary residents.

1 Peter 1:1 calls us EXILES.

1 Peter 1:17 calls us FOREIGNERS.

1 Peter 2:11 calls us SOJOURNERS.

I do not know about you, but I am tired of living “trendy.” I can never keep up. It is exhausting. It is like high school all over again. I want to live by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Book, my convictions, through worship and praise. What an adventure!

What I am NOT saying is this: coffee shop fellowship and intense Christian jam sessions are bad.

What I AM saying is this: when our lives no longer reflect the cross, when our lives are comfortable, when we no longer hurt, when worship becomes something to put on Instagram, when we value ourselves and our image more than Christ, when shortcuts in our Christianity become the norm, when we no longer reflect on our own sin, when we gain a taste for inclusiveness but lose a taste for God, when are motifs are self-righteous… that is when it all becomes blasphemy.

Yes, world, use social media and artwork for the glory of God. Use instruments and fill arenas with people to glorify God. PRAISE GOD FOR THAT. But also let us die to self. Empty ourselves of our own ambitions. Suffer for Jesus. Bear disorder. Become comfortable being uncomfortable. Lose our pride.

Let us Christians become like Christ in His death.

 

Stay Rad

Accepting grace used to be a foreign concept to me. I did not know how to embrace this wonderful gift. I so often felt trapped by my sin, like I had four walls constantly surrounding me that defined me. Spacious living and boundless freedom were never supposed to be in the cards for me… or so I thought.

One night, I sat on my living room floor with my good friend Carli. She had recently discovered what freedom was. She knew what it was like to be in complete darkness, see the light in the far distance, and run for it with everything she had. She had joy and dance and laughter tattooed upon her life and all I knew was that I wanted what she had.

As we were sitting there, my eyes swelled up with tears. All I said to her in that moment was “I want your freedom.”

I was

burdened

heavy

lifeless

dull… because of my sin.

Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Writing this, Paul knew that is was possible for Christ followers to be “burdened again.” He knew that obstacles in life could recurrently bound us to slavery.

 

Slowly but surely I had to learn how to…

Reveal my sins.

  Accept his Grace

             Deny picking it back up.

That’s pretty… RAD… right?

As a permanent reminder of this radiant gift Christ has given me, and to always remember to accept His grace especially in the present, I tattooed a sound wave (that two of my best friends spoke) of the word “freedom.”

So here is to freedom, tattoo’s, and staying RAD.

Vulnerability Hangover

Once upon a time… or two times… or maybe 250 million times… I told someone something that I immediately regretted. I have walked away from certain conversations feeling naked and exposed. I have woken up some mornings with flooded anxiety about something I shared with someone the previous night.

This is what I like to call a vulnerability hangover- a.k.a. shame.

So what’s in a shame?

Shame is the ultimate fear of disconnection from people. It is the result of rejection or fear of others not accepting us. Shame is the voice in our head saying “if you share this, others are not going to accept you” or “because you told them this, they are going to see you differently.”

I am unworthy of love.

I am not pretty enough to accomplish that.

I am not successful enough to do this.

I am not good enough to talk to them.

So, I am here to tell you this- having a vulnerability hangover actually has… NOTHING…to do with vulnerability at all. This said “hangover” is a result of shame, which can lead to some other really ugly things.

depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders

Recognize the brutal lies the devil tells you and start believing that what makes you vulnerable makes you BEAUTIFUL! Rest assured that the darkest thought you could have, the lowest point you can feel, and the furthest place you could run… His grace will always meet us there.

  1. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and acceptance.
  2. Surrender to your vulnerability.
  3. Have the courage to be imperfect.
  4. Your life is your art.
  5. Vulnerability is most definitely NOT a weakness.

But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” ~Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Stay encouraged!

xoxo

Turn Your Mess Into Your Message

There is something so neat about people sharing their stories with you. It is a way to connect, laugh, and cry with each other on such a deeper level. They can be inspiring. They can be heartbreaking. They can send chills down your spine.  But as much as I love listening to them, thinking about sharing mine terrifies me.

I was asked by my small group leader to share my testimony. WHAT. My insides were screaming “no” but I politely responded with a “sure.” My anxiety levels were through the roof.

How do I even share my testimony?

What will people think of me?

Is my story “too much?”

With a troubled and confused heart, I prayed and asked God to show me what to share and how to share it.

Ironically, Passion City Church had sent me a free trial of their new devotional called “Simple Pursuit: A Heart After Jesus.” Two days after I said that prayer, the title of the devotional that day was “Your Honest Testimony.”

How cool is God.

Through this, I was taught a couple of things

  1. I am not sharing my testimony to reveal all of my deepest darkest secrets.
  2. My testimony is not “too much.”
  3. Testimonies are for giving real examples of what being brought from death to life really means.
  4. They show how radical a life change in Christ can be.
  5. Our story is not meant to lie dormant.
  6. Reveal how he breathes life into us e v e r y d a y and how His grace is, was, and always will be enough.

Testimonies are stories of hope and redemption. It is so important to be honest- do not worry about covering ANYTHING up. Speak boldly and be enthusiastically proud of your rebirth in Christ.

He has chosen us for our weaknesses, not our strengths. This magnifies our need for Him. Our stories are meant to be told.

“But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they said, “It was required that God’s Word be spoken first of all to you, the Jews. But seeing that you want no part of it—you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life—the door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said, “I’ve set you up as light to all nations. You’ll proclaim salvation to the four winds and seven seas!” When the non-Jewish outsiders heard this, they could hardly believe their good fortune. All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God—they honored God’s Word by receiving that life. And this Message of salvation spread like wildfire all through the region.” Acts 13:46-48

I encourage you to share your testimony with someone. Ask Christ to give you the courage to share your story of being brought from death to life. If it encourages just ONE person, you are furthering the kingdom of God and that is wondrous.