Friday, February 26, 2010


In a world where many of our relationships are via Facebook, Twitter, Gchat, and more, we’re faced with truly identifying with one another. In our “busy” lives, we find it easier to push those friends and family members away, rather than inviting them into the struggles of our lives. Spending some time with the Lord this morning, I realized how easy it’s become for me to rely on technology for furthering my relationships rather than face to face communication. Living with one another in brotherly love has been replaced with living with a computer or a television. Even people that live in the same house or apartment are disconnected from each other. In my own life I find that if my roommate can’t hear me from the next room, I’ll call her up rather than walk the 10 feet to the room she’s in. How ridiculous and LAZY of me!

As I read a daily devotional this morning I recognized the sin of avoidance in my own life. The sin of refusing to serve those around me. In Mark 10 it says, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many". Christ himself came to this earth to serve. And how can one serve if they’re completely disconnected from the community that surrounds them? We’re too busy with our Blackberry’s, our TV shows, our Facebook status to really see the needs of those that are standing right beside us. What if a smile from us or a kind word completely changes someone’s outlook on life? The fact of the matter is that as Christians, we should be living as Christ in every circumstance. Impossible as it seems, inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives to help us see and meet a need of someone around us is powerful and at work today. What we need to remember is that we, in our messed up lives, may very well be the only Jesus someone sees in a day, a month, a year, or ever – so we better do it right.

What does serving others look like? It’s as simple as a smile or holding the door for someone. It’s turning off our cell phones when we’re meeting someone for coffee or hanging up the phone when we’re paying for our groceries. It’s starting a sincere conversation with the person on the other side of the table. It’s offering (And following through) someone the help they need when they’re moving. It’s taking care of someone else’s kids. It’s picking up a mess that isn’t yours. It’s listening attentively when someone is hurting. It’s rejoicing in the blessings of others. It’s showing love and grace when all you want to do is hate the person. It’s sacrificing your time and energy for the betterment of someone else. It’s giving away the money you have and the things you own. It’s giving a hug. It’s inviting the neighbors over for dinner. It’s anything and everything that will bless, encourage, and serve someone else.

This whole idea is crazy hard to fall in line with. In a world of demands and pressure, we often forget or get too distracted to see the person sitting right beside us. We get so wrapped up in our own minds and lives that we have the blinders on for anything but us. There’s a challenging, yet great book that I’m reading called The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. It shows how satan uses little distractions in our life to prevent us from doing the work of God. How he infiltrates our brains and hearts with doubts and questions, leading us to believe that we’re the most important thing in the world. Well, if each human has that mentality, it’s no wonder people don’t care about those being abused in front of them. It’s for this reason that we need to be extremely aware of our thoughts and ask Christ to hold them captive, and ask for us to keep our eyes on His desires for us.

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down a be a servant.” – Matt. 23:11

Now, ask for the Holy Spirit to direct you towards the needs of someone around you. Then do your best to meet them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


If I’ve learned 1 thing, I’ve learned 1000. Over my lifetime I’ve faced again and again decisions and struggles within the relationships of those closest to me. Whether it’s repairing a distant father-daughter relationship or just keeping up with my best friends, I find that each day presents another set of obstacles to face and growth to acquire.

Recently, both of my best friends have come to me about how much of a people pleaser I am. I seem to have everything under control at all times, planned, orderly – you’d never guess that inwardly I fight daily to keep myself “together”. Transparency has always been a sign of weakness to me, yet my dear friends have challenged me that as true friends we give and take together. It doesn’t work if it’s a one sided relationship – resentment surfaces and the pressure to “keep the peace” abounds. And I’m reminded throughout the Bible we’re told to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6) or to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”(Romans 12). If we’re not in community with fellow believers, living life together, then how are we to do what we’re commanded to? Why can’t we seem to be “real” with those closest to us?


Yup, I said it. I don’t want people to know that I struggle with “little white lies”. I don’t want people to see how tired I get. I don’t want people to realize that I avoid or run away from commitments because I’m too afraid to face them. I don’t want people to know that I’m terrified of committing to anything because of the failure that I’m sure will result in the end. I don’t want people to know of the past mistakes I’ve made with boyfriends. I don’t want people to see my flaws, my sin.

What I want is for everyone to like me -for everyone to see me as the “well-rounded” girl that has a good head on her shoulders. I want people to see that I’m diligent, dedicated – able to master any and every obstacle that comes my way.

But the freeing truth behind it all is this: when we confess our struggles, our fears, our deepest secrets and sins to those who love us (James 5), we’re suddenly set free from the all-consuming pressure to hide. All of a sudden, someone knows and understands where we’re at in life, what we’re facing. Someone knows how to pray for us, how to encourage us, and how to hold us accountable to the obstacles we face. Suddenly, we have a tangible, earthly source that’s able to speak truth into our lives and build us up, as Christ calls us to do. “Build each other up, just as you are already doing” (I Thess. 5).

A line from an article hit me to my core, “…I don’t want to be dependent on God and His people. I don’t want to have to humble myself and accept help from others. I want to be able to provide for myself, to not have to rely on others, to be independent, self-sufficient, and make it in this world BY MYSELF.” (Kevin Mo-Wong)

Independence is EVERYWHERE in our culture today. I’d go as far as to say that it’s one of the biggest struggles Americans face. The thought that we can go through life alone, not relying on the community of friendship, but doing it all ourselves is completely absurd. Biblically speaking, we’re called to community, we’re called to invest/build into one another’s lives, we’re called to mentor/learn/grow with those within our community. Yet, we fall short. Simply put, our pride and fear always leads to the fall and failure of our “perfect” lives.

I leave you with this: what are your secret struggles? What are the temptations you face daily? Who is your community, the people Christ has brought to you to “do life” with? What things do you need to give up or grow up in (pride, addiction, maturity, past abuse, etc)?

For the full quoted story, check out: Solidarity

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just checking in

A friend of mine passed along the below list of questions yesterday and I've found them to be eye opening as I went through the list and found that even when I think I'm okay, I still have struggles, I'm still human. Enjoy!

-Are you regularly with a person of the opposite sex in inappropriate situations?

-Are you completely above reproach in all your financial dealings, including your taxes?

-Do you expose yourself to explicit sexual material?

-If you have a family, do you invest sufficient time with them?

-Do you tell the truth? How often do you lie (don't forget to count the little white ones)?

-How quickly do you say "I am wrong; I am genuinely sorry" when you have said or done something that hurts another?

-Do you hold grudges?

-Are you knowingly compromising in some area of your life, refusing to acknowledge the consequences that you will surely have to face?

-Have you formed a habit that is detrimental to your health or your job or your walk with Christ?

-Are you proud, selfish, arrogant?

-Have you taken credit for something that someone else did and should have been rewarded for?

-Do you return things you borrow?

-Have you failed to confess something to someone who should know of your wrongdoing?

-Are you abusing your mate or your children---physically or emotionally?

-Do you allow abuse to happen without seeking help?

-Do you regularly spend time in prayer and in the Scriptures?

I met a man...

I met a man far different than those I've come across thus far. A man of real life spiritual discipline. A man of character and integrity, with Christ's light and workmanship making itself evident in every area of his life.

I met a man funny and charming. A man diligent in his work and study. A man eager for great things in God's Kingdom, for His glory and honor. A man who came through the valley of the shadow of death, to the mountain of God's glorious grace. A man outwardly "harsh" and handsome, yet inwardly righteous and just.

I met a man broken, yet redeemed. A man with a past of hurts and regrets. A man with an unshakeable future in Christ. A man decisive and determined to push through the obstacles that he would surely face throughout life. A man kind and compassionate.

I met a man with a heart of gold, but with a world of influence. A man fighting daily for what is right, while battling the pressure of the world around him. A man of valor and strength. A man able to face any challenge with confidence and surety. A man fighting for the right choice, waiting for direction, desiring God's desires.

I met a man who challenged me to my core. A man who pushed me to think beyond myself. A man with a child-like faith in the One and Only. A man who lives his life as an open example of how Christ meets anyone, anywhere. A man of simple yet determined, black and white faith. A man proving the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through one's life.

I met a man who changed my life. A man I'm extremely proud of. A man who defends and protects, patiently persevering. A man I'm glad to call friend. A man who loves openly, lives honestly, and listens attentively. A man who blesses not harming the one he loves. A man who does what's right, even if it means his own pain. A man deserving of respect and honor.

I met a man...incredible, true, unwavering.

I met a man.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Disciplined Life

The disciplined life is not an easy road to follow. In fact, living a life of discipline may cause arguments, frustration, persecution, and plain ol’ drama. When we choose to live a life differently than those around us, we’re daily faced with the challenge of practicing what we preach. Whether it’s our addiction to the internet/cell phone/social networking, our battle between being healthy and wreaking havoc on our bodies, the struggle of relationships and making them work, or even just the fight to keep our quiet times with the Lord steady and focused – dedication to the commitments we’ve made is one of the biggest battles we face. Why is it so easy to fall into the trap of laziness or the “I’ll get to it later” mentality? Simply put, because everyone around us is doing it and there seems to be a lack of follow through on our decisions. The world is constantly knocking - waiting for us to follow suit... but should we?

As I've been reading through the book of Proverbs (my all time favorite book of the Bible), over and over the call to gain wisdom, understanding and live the disciplined life keeps screaming at me. I'm the type of person that commits to something only to turn around and break the commitment "just this once". Well, "just this once" has a peculiar tendency to transform into "oh it doesn't matter" inevitably leaving the discipline behind and failing, yet again, to finish something for once. I am so that person, even down to the books I read - I just can't seem to finish anything. And I get frustrated with myself and throw everything that was a temptation away only for it to somehow resurface in another form a week later.

However, over and over in scripture we see how blessed the lives of the disciplined are. Those who diligently keep their promises, even when it hurts and causes them to stretch and grow in a way they never have before. Proverbs 8 is a good example, "Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career. Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don't squander your precious life. Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day's work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God's good pleasure."

Discipline, my friends, leads to finding life, real life, that only God can give. At this point in my life, my lack of discipline lies in my health and eating habits, for one. I've got quite the sweet tooth and so I'll start down the path of eating better, yet still find a way to track down that stash of chocolate deep within the cupboards. Or, exercise. Now there's something that I get just plain bored of. I hate repitition, the same thing, over and over and over again, to the point that I'd just prefer to not do it. But the fact is that I feel better and am healthier by doing so. And these two examples are the LEAST of my worries, yet I can't seem to figure out how to discipline myself enough to actually follow through on them.

The story only gets worse as I take a deeper look at myself and the inner workings of my soul. I'm the people pleaser, I'm that girl that says "yes" to anything while thinking, "what the heck is wrong with you??!!? Why did you just commit to that?!?!" So I go to the opposite extreme in an unfortunate attempt to make myself more grounded - and say no to everything. How does that solve the problem? I have no idea... but it's discipline, right??

Then Proverbs 5 just throws it at me again, "You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones, Saying, "Oh, why didn't I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? Why didn't I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? My life is ruined! I haven't one blessed thing to show for my life!"'

Man can I relate to that, each day it seems that I find something that I regret doing or not doing (the sins of ommission and commission). Yet, instead of relying on Jesus for my strength and asking Him to make me grow and become better in certain areas of my life , I decide to just take things into my own hands. And every single time, He reminds me that if I want to succeed in my life, He has to be the center of it. Without Him, I'm nothing. And He even gives us ways in which we can grow in our character and being able to follow through on issues - being disciplined in everything. Through simply having good friends who speak truth into our lives, diligent mentors that pull us back to reality, or His still small voice in the quietness of the morning - He gives us the tools to choose the disciplined life. If it's that easy, then why don't we? Simply put - we hate being called out. And so we beat around the bush or make up excuses, but what we really need to do is put our pride to the side and start asking for discipline...

Ask and Receive.

Ask God to remind you of the ways in which you need to grow. Ask Jesus to illuminate paths for you to escape the temptations of this world. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt your heart to desire more of His power, than your own. And receive peace that transcends all understanding, power to overcome the dauntingly impossible, and perseverance to live the disciplined life each and every day.

I'll end with this. Discipline is not the only answer, in fact it's just a simple piece of God's growing puzzle. Discipline, although necessary, is a portion of what we're called to be and do as Christ followers in today's world. We're called to have good character, to learn more, to be patient and kind, to be generous, to build into the lives of those around us, and most of all to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE others - even those that are the hardest to love. With Christ - ALL of the above is possible, and more. We just have to dedicate to living the disciplined life of waking every morning with the Word and prayer, living as Christ's ambassadors on earth, and desiring/asking for His desires to become our own - that His road would be the road of our lives.

"So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books." – II Peter 1

Monday, February 1, 2010

Forgotten God

As of late, I've been completely intrigued by Francis Chan's latest book, Forgotten God, which discusses how Christians today call on God the Father and Christ the Son, but often forget about the incredible power and gift for our lives on earth, the Holy Spirit. So often, as Christians, we sense that God is somehow distant, far away, and unattainable or that we have to live by certain self-induced rules to gain His favor. Chan shows how generous and caring the God we serve is, by teaching us the power of the Holy Spirit. If allowed into every section of our life, the Spirit of God has the power to do incredible things in and through us.

However, we often forget that our bodies are the Spirit's temple. The world around us begins to dictate our actions and decisions. Instead of living by the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5, we become the opposite (frustrated, prideful, mean, selfish, rude, self serving, etc). We doubt, we question the power of the Spirit, thus placing ourselves as some type of "godhead' of our own lives. This, I believe, is why we don't see more joyful, Spirit led, confident, courageous Christians changing the world. For we cannot serve both God and man - we have to choose, and far too often we choose the latter.

“if all you want is a little Jesus to ‘spiritualize’ your life, a little extra God to keep you out of hell, you are missing out on the fullness of life you were created for.” –F. Chan, Forgotten God, Pg. 122

Amen! But how do we even begin to get out of the box of spirituality and into the unyeilding surrender to God's control of our lives? Simply put... by daily asking for the Spirit's guidance, by disclosing our struggles, and facing the obstacles that so often get in our way. And it's different for each of us, to some it's our job, to others our families, other's may struggle with food or financially, while other's have a paralyzing fear that often prevents them from even moving at all. Baby steps. We don't change overnight, living with God as the center is a process of growth and continual surrender. As it says in Forgotten God:

“each of us has a strong tendency to attempt to wrestle control from the Spirit and ‘do’ this life on our own.” – F. Chan, 131

It should no longer be a question of what I need to do to control my life. Because my life is not mine to control. No, it’s a matter of what God wants me to surrender to Him in my life. What needs to be done for me to release the securities that the world offers, for the eternal security of Christ?

"Perhaps you don’t need fire from heaven, but peace. Perhaps what you need is wisdom to know which decision to make, or courage to do the right thing, even though you might lose your job. Or maybe you need love because you feel alone. Or you want people with a similar vision to journey with and support you along the way. Whatever you need, the point is that God is aware of you and your circumstances, and He knows what you really need. He is able to bring these things, people, and circumstances in your life… He wants to completely transform us.” F.Chan 145-146

And how does this transformation happen? With prayer, time, and accountability. Pray fervently, pray radically, pray courageously believing that God will come through. And remember that to God a day is like a 1000 years and a 1000 years are like a day. To us time means no answer or that God is no longer there, but to God time means instilling patient perseverance into the lives of His children.

So let’s stop living the safe life, the planned life - where we decide what we will do and where we will go, and let’s start living lives of complete surrender asking the Spirit to lead and direct our paths right into the situations He’s intended us to be in. Who knows, the drive home may require an “unnessesary” stop along the way that changes someone’s life forever. The ringing phone may be someone desperate to know someone cares. And the prompting to “go” in our hearts may just be the very thing to break us of our comfort and push us into the life of daily trust in the Spirit for everything we need. God did not call us to a life of comfort, at least not this side of heaven. Christ has called us to daily pick up our cross and follow Him, wherever He leads, whatever He wants, needs to be our complete determination daily.