Church, Meth, & the Gospel

“The church I grew up in was hypocritical,” my waiter said after I asked him about his church background.

“I’m from east Texas- you know the Meth capital of the world. So people would do Meth and then go to our Baptist church on Sunday,” he said with a somewhat frustrated voice. “They acted so religious too.”

Not being from Texas, I didn’t know east Texas was famous for that.

“Do you go to church anywhere now?” I asked.

“No, I work Sundays and everything… and… church just isn’t for me.”

“Yeah I understand,” I said.

Where’s the life and joy?

My husband chimed in and shared about the ugliness of hypocrisy he saw at times in his church growing up.

Our waiter listened, gazing at the glasses that needed to be filled in the distance. As they conversed, I took some bites out of my steak, completely annoyed at where we stand as “the church” today.

I remember times growing up in the church and putting on my Sunday best. Singing those hymns, smiling, and shaking hands with people, but feeling like I was swimming in a sea of dead people. All I wanted to see was life and joy. I didn’t want to see hypocrisy.

When I went to college, I began to see God’s love like never before through his people and his Word. I grew in intimacy with him as I was surrounded by other Christ-followers. I started to look to God, and not at other people. Since getting married and moving to Dallas several years ago, I’ve been learning a lot about true, biblical community at our church. I’ve experienced what it means to be authentic, confess sins, and share struggles and it’s been life-changing.

The Church isn’t a Building

It’s the gospel over and over again- broken people coming to Jesus. But how come the church is missing it- they’re not even on the map?

I think we all have to face the fact that there is nothing great in us apart from Christ. We are all, in a sense, hypocritical people. That’s why we need a Savior. We need him to help us navigate the rough waters of isolation and pretending.

We have to realize that the church is made up of real people who are supposed to love God and others. It’s not a building. It’s the bride of Christ, put here on earth to reflect his glory.

The Gospel’s Transforming Power

Well my husband wrapped up what he was saying to our waiter and then invited him to our church, handing him a card with info on it. I sensed that he thought we were a little weird (Okay, maybe foreign), but that somehow he appreciated us chatting with him.

It’s my prayer that one day he can step foot in the church again and see how the church was really meant to be. That he would see the power of the gospel transform all forms of hypocrisy.

Are you emotionally available?


One of the greatest things I’m learning as a mom are the many things that try to compete with the time and attention I give to my almost 15 month old son.

This past Wednesday when we were at lunch at Panera, I held John in my arms while we ordered soup, salad, mac & cheese, and chocolate milk. The cashier ladies made faces at him and he smiled back so excited. I loved seeing his new teeth come through and how his light brown hair was getting a little longer. At the table, my mom and I talked about life while we tried to feed John the macaroni he didn’t want. He was always on my mind and he was right there with us, just speaking his own language.

When we came back for his nap, even though I had a little work to do from home, I kept thinking how grateful I was to be his Mommy. Even though he was a little grouchy when he woke up, I hugged him and rocked him whispering in his ear, “I was once a grouchy little girl too.” And it came to my realization that I wanted him to know that I was not only physically there for him, but I was there emotionally too. And that I would be as long as I was his mother.

Many of us play a lot of roles as Mommy, Dad, husband, wife, aunt, uncle, friend, sister, brother, etc. And I think it’s safe to say that sometimes we’re just not always there with the people we love. I’m not. But, I’ve been really challenged to make sure that I’m finding “quiet” in my mind so that I can be all there. For me, that means first caring for my soul spiritually. Then…

Nourishing my marriage.
Taking care of self.
Pursuing a simpler life.

I’m definitely not perfect at this and never will be, but I really want to strive for it. When John is old enough to understand, it will be so critical for those emotional needs of his to have been met and it’s amazing how it all starts with me.

Why Haiti hasn’t escaped my mind


I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one feeling this certain tension.

Since the day we were awakened by the tragic news of Haiti, my heart has been burdened by its devastating horror, the countless babies, children, and people in distress, what our nation needs to offer in terms of aid, and what my family and friends can do to help. But it’s also been filled with something else.

If “Haiti”- all hell breaking loose, suffering, pain, and the deepest agonies ever imaginable, were to enter my life here in America, would I still trust God?

I have never known suffering like the Haitian people are experiencing at this moment. I want to trust that God is good all the time, but sometimes I just really fear suffering. I’d rather put my security in comfort.

Oh, but is that really all there is?

There is T E N S I O N because I know that as a follower of Christ, it won’t always be an easy road. I’m figuring that out as the hands on the clock get faster. I think we have to come to the point in our relationship with Christ that we will love him, trust him, serve him, and surrender to him regardless if we experience his blessings or not.

I don’t know if I can say that I’m there right now, but I want to be. And while I question God and wonder what in the world He’s doing at times (especially right now), I have to lean in on the truth that He is a good God and is worthy of my life in times of suffering and in times of joy.

He’s got the whole world in his hands, even Haiti.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalm 46:10

Video: UCLA Student Undercover at Planned Parenthood

As followers of Christ, we’ve been called to help protect those who have a voice, but who are rarely heard.

Those who are Vulnerable. Weak. And Innocent.

We live in a deceived culture that says “Save the trees (Go green), but kill the children.”

Yesterday while searching for youth stories for an upcoming project we’re doing at work with Max Lucado and Thomas Nelson, I stumbled upon UCLA student, Lila Rose, who is fighting for truth through creative media. And I am so inspired by her boldness.

Lila Rose and her pro-life student group, Live Action, have been hard at work the past three years uncovering the medical lies and manipulative counseling offered at Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain.

The video above is the first in Live Action’s “Rosa Acuna Project,” a multi-state undercover audit documenting Planned Parenthood’s abortion counseling. This video was filmed with Lila while she was undercover in the clinic for the purpose of asking a few questions.

Take the time to watch the video above (it may need some time to load), share it with others, and support Lila and her team with your prayers as they continue their new media movement for life.

* You can check out more undercover videos on the Live Action site, including her appearance on the O’Reilly Factor.

Whiter than Snow

Last week, while we were eating out I gazed out the window and snow started sprinkling out of the dark sky, covering the sheet of snow on the ground. It was heavenly. So clean. Fresh. Pure. I could almost taste it. I laughed and smiled like a little girl.

I was reminded of the verse in Isaiah that says: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isa. 1:18

Sin stains. It’s dirty. Evil. Wicked. It breaks the heart of God. It has separated all of us from His love. Its pathway leads to death.

Sin doesn’t deserve to be made whiter than snow.

But because of Jesus’ suffering on the cross, his resurrection, and our repentance and belief in Him, we’re made clean again. The crimson stain is blotted out because of his shed blood- as if we’ve never rebelled at all.

Today, even though there’s no blanket of snow keeping the ground warm here in Dallas, I feel like a little girl leaping for joy that my sins are forgiven, but also perplexed why God chooses to save us?


2 Things I really want for 2010

I have a few goals I’ve written down for this year. I gave you a little glimpse of them a few posts ago. I’ll write a few I’ve landed on:

1.) Spend more than 20 minutes in the Word daily. 2.) Exercise intensely 3 or more times a week for one hour. 3.) Write book proposal by July 23, then begin process of sending to agents. 4.) Pray for my husband and son daily for God’s will in their life. 5.) And… go see Avatar this week because everybody else is doing it!

I am happy with these goals as I feel they’re realistic for the season I’m in. BUT, something even greater stuck out to me while I was on vacation. A light-bulb turned on as I meditated on this verse:

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Prov. 3:3).

Steadfast love and faithfulness.

I want my life to be marked by these two things  in my relationship with Jesus and to others. And I sense the urgency in this verse to protect these things by binding them around my neck and writing them on my heart.

I think God is really saying something to all of us here. Perhaps that this wisdom can be easily lost and forgotten. I know people who have lost their love and faithfulness to God and it scares me because I’ve seen the devastation of what it can do. I too, have had times where my love for God is not as vast as the ocean like His love is for me. And it’s evident in how I treat others.

Proverbs 3:4 goes on to say, So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”

I definitely want success in my goals for this year. I think we all do. But more importantly, I want the success that comes from loving God and loving His Word.

What about you- Is there anything you really want in your life for 2010?

Top 20 Posts for 2009

I wanted to take the time and list the top 20 posts for 2009. Excited for what God has in store for all of us in 2010. Happy New Year!

1. Michael Jackson’s Dash

2. Who He is- what i’m not

3. No, Mr. President: John Piper’s Response

4. Running for Sunrise

5. Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly

6. I am Second

7. Marriage: Built to Last

8. A Passion for Marriage

9. Marriage: Built to Last # 2

10. Why I’ll never be a member of ashleymadi

11. To Twitter, or Not to Twitter?

12. Are you a trader?

13. Giving Respect

14. Fighting Complacency

15. What stirs your affections?

16. Truth on a Starbucks Sleeve

17. RightNow Conference Highlights

18. Have you thought about Self-Publishing?

19. Marriage: why it’s hard work

20. Give Me Prudence


Blogging Break for 12 days

Hi Friends,

I’ll be taking a little break from blogging while I’m away on a much needed vacation. I’m so thankful for each of you this Christmas. Thank you for reading and interacting on my blog. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a little bit about you in the past few months.

I’ll be back it at it, Lord willing, around the 2nd week of January. If you need to reach me or just want to say hello, feel free to email.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday spending time with those you love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

In Christ alone,

Samantha

When it’s just plain hard… to walk in the Spirit

Last Thursday on my way home from work, I noticed something dangerous in the left turn lane. One lady had hit another lady’s bumper. They were handling their insurance info, but their lights weren’t on making it difficult to see them. The one who got hit was frazzled and angered and the other looked humiliated.

As I drove by, I rolled down my window and yelled, “Excuse me… Put your flashers on!”

I didn’t think they heard me so I yelled it again: “Put your flashers on!”

Then all of the sudden, the woman whose car got hit turned around and yelled: “SHUT UP!” really annoyed at me.

By that time, I was too far ahead to respond. But I thought, I’m just trying to keep you safe lady. I understood her frustrations and I probably sounded like I was nagging  but I really was out for her good. They would have been in really bad shape if another car hit them.

I feel that little situation was a good picture of the Spirit’s work in my life lately. There have been several times I’ve sensed the Spirit telling me: “Put your flashers on!” (or that sin is really going to hurt you and others).

I forget that every day I’m in a battle from the time my alarm goes off. Satan wants my heart, mind, and soul. My flesh wants to be critical, impatient, unloving, angry. It wants to steal my joy and keep me from singing (and writing.)

And I admit that some days are just plain hard to walk in the Spirit. I am so selfish and sometimes it seems like the more I try to grow in God’s word, the harder the struggle is.

But I’m trusting that God is doing something. He’s disciplining me. He’s teaching me to yield in obedience, instead of saying “shut up!” He’s letting me know that with God’s power, I have the ability to be led and controlled by the Spirit any time and any place.

I’m not sure if those ladies ever turned their lights on or not, but they reminded me of something that day.

Do you ever feel like walking in the Spirit is like taking one step forward and two steps back? Any interesting crazy holiday traffic stories out there?

What are your goals for 2010?

On Wednesday, I’m taking a 12 day Christmas vacation to visit Jeremiah’s family in Michigan. We have a lot planned and I’m really excited to get away, reflect, and think about some goals for 2010. Then before the ball drops in Times Square, I plan to write them down and Commit.

I have a history of setting goals that are tangible and realistic and some that are vague and unrealistic. Regardless, I love to set goals because it gives me something to aim for. Goals help keep me from being mediocre. And I always love a good challenge.

It’s not even Christmas yet so I haven’t thought really hard on my goals, but here are a few I have in mind:

  • Run a race in the Spring. 15k or more.
  • Utilize the margins in my new Bible (the ESV that Santa’s bringing me) to take notes and write prayer requests.
  • Pray for my husband and son daily.
  • Start a book proposal (start typing it in Microsoft Word)
  • Work hard with my husband to be debt-free by December (one car payment to go)
  • Try harder to have more common sense in the simple things

Since I’m not committing until the ball drops, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any goals (silly or serious) brewing in your mind for 2010?

There’s a chance I might have to borrow what you’re thinking about committing to.

If you don’t have any yet, don’t feel bad.

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