Who He is- what i’m not

Lately, I’ve been realizing just how much I don’t care to be known in the world. (Don’t worry this won’t be a depressing post.)  Don’t get me wrong– it would be really amazing to be on TV or have my name written across a book (especially because I want to author my own book one day) or to be rich and famous. But I’m guessing that somewhere down the road, I would end up empty. So while I know my flesh desires those things here and there, I can honestly say in my spirit that I just don’t care.

What I do care though is about making Jesus famous. It’s a worn out cliche among the Christian bubble, but what it really means is desiring to reflect who Christ is in all of life. It’s no easy task to figure out exactly who He is, but He’s given us His Word to help guide us.

In the Bible, I see how beautiful, perfect, loving, tender, merciful, gracious, and faithful He is. I see his humility in the way he dealt with people. How he not only healed the sick and the blind, but cut to the core of a person’s heart. I see how he rebuked pompous religious leaders and people in his day who were self-righteous. I see how much pain he endured on the cross to save us. I most importantly see His love for all people and how he met them right where they’re at.

Jesus’ life also wasn’t about making a name for himself, but for his Father. He didn’t manipulate people to get what He wanted. He wasn’t concerned about the affairs of this world, but about doing God’s will. I’m so challenged by his life that sometimes it’s overwhelming. I’m so messed up (most of the time).  I struggle with attitude. I struggle with pride. My thoughts aren’t always pure. I don’t always love people. I often want my way only. All in all, I simply love me. It’s a total tragedy.

But I wasn’t created to make myself glorious. No one stands in front of the Grand Canyon and says, Wow. I’m so beautiful.

I was created to make God glorious.

I think that when we truly grasp what we are not, and what Christ is, that we fall on our knees in humility and wonder why in the world we keep trying so hard. We let him take the reins and work through us. I think that’s what He was getting at when he said:

I am the vine. You are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

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A Father- the Family Shepherd

1123144_walk_on_pierI’ve heard it said that a father is the family shepherd of the home. I just love that title. By God’s divine order, the father is head of the house. His role is to tenderly lead and guide his family like a shepherd would for his sheep.

The great truth however, is that a family shepherd isn’t perfect. He’s an imperfect man who follows a perfect God. He isn’t afraid to confess his sins or when he’s screwed up because his ultimate goal and desire is to love and fear God. His ambition is to genuinely live out his faith in front of his wife and children.

When I first got married, my husband asked me one day, “How’s your heart?” Those words really caught me off guard—I’d never been asked that before or at least asked in that way. But knowing that my husband cared about my heart meant the world to me. Three years later, he’s mentioned his desire to make sure our newborn son John, will know in the future that he can bring his whole heart before his father. And that John will have that security knowing it will be protected.

Proverbs 20:5 says, The purpose of a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out (ESV).

It’s the business of a father to draw out from his wife and children the deeper matters of the heart. While this takes time and some humility, his role is to draw this out so there will be healing, love, respect and harmony among his family.

If you’re a Daddy on this Father’s Day, remember that you are the family shepherd and what an awesome role that is!

Thanks for all you do and Happy Father’s Day!

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Romance and Realism

It might seem cheesy but I’m listening to my Pandora Radio and Bryan Adams just started singing “When You Love Someone”… you know the song that goes “you’ll shoot the moon. Put out the sun… when you love someone.” It popped up on my Josh Groban radio and all the sudden it’s playing romantic songs. (I didn’t think I was a hopeless romantic… really). But you know there are times when my heart longs for romance. A definition of romance, out of the many is:

to invent or relate romances; indulge in fanciful or extravagant stories or daydreams.

I romance about walking on the streets of Italy, breathing the air, tasting the food, and experiencing a different culture. I dream about being somewhere different than here- on the turquoise blue ocean, basking in the sun. I daydream about peace and living in a world that is perfect. I create stories in my imagination of what heaven will be like and the house that Jeremiah will live in next to mine. I often allow the beauty in music to wash me away to an unfamiliar place.

Romanticism though, is the opposite of realism. The world as it is- Imperfect. Sinful. Ugly. Struggling. Destructive. Relationships as they are- sometimes hurtful, filled with conflict and strife. Not really the world we want.

But I know God gives us glimpses of what our hearts truly long for. Because He wants us to see there is something more than this life- It’s a life lived in perfect harmony with Him. A life lived with him forever where there will be no more tears, pain, and war.

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.   – Revelation 7:17

When I start daydreaming again, I want to be more reminded that God is enough and that one day, those things will be attainable. But for now, they’re on hold… until He returns. And when I daydream of what my heart craves, I’m ultimately longing for the one thing my heart was created for… to love and worship God.

Well now my Pandora Radio is on to playing Michael Buble’s, “Dance for Me.”

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My Surrender Anniversary

Today is what I call my “surrender anniversary.” The story goes like this… as a young girl growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, my Mom brought my sister and I to church every Sunday (my Dad at that time didn’t want anything to do with “religion” at that time). So she was faithful in bringing us and when I was six years old, our pastor Jack came over to my house. His purpose was to tell me more about Jesus- that He died for me and that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. If I believed and accepted him, I would have eternal life and would be saved from a life spent in hell.

In that moment sitting in our living room, I remember it as clear as day and I accepted “Jesus into my heart” that day. I truly understood that God was Creator and that I had some sin issues (ie. I stole a few lollypops from Eckerds drug store). I needed him and I desperately wanted to go to Heaven. That day I truly believed.

BUT… still being so young and as I headed into my elementary and middle school years, I kept thinking I had to do “good” and that if I messed up, God would be mad at me. I didn’t quite get the relationship part. I’m pretty sure I rededicated my life about 10 times at youth camps and Sunday services.

High school came and I dabbled in a few things that were keeping me from having the life God wanted. There were sins blocking my path and I knew it. One summer as a sophomore, I took significant trips back to back (that my parents graciously gave to me) that were milestones in my life. One was to Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista Colorado with Young Life and one was to Panama City Beach, FL with my youth group. Both trips showed me so much about life and God. One night in Florida, a youth speaker at our conference spoke on “Surrender”. I had never heard the word and didn’t know much about it, but the words he was saying shot straight to the depths of my heart.

So I asked my pastor David and he explained it me like this, “It’s giving God everything in your life and letting him take full control. As if to say, I’m done. I surrender.” At that moment, I got it. I knew I didn’t have a surrendered life. Jesus was not LORD of my life (He was just there). But I wanted him to be. So that night I allowed God to take my mess and turn it into good. It’s not that I wasn’t saved or didn’t believe at age 6, it was just all a part of this process that God was doing. And it wasn’t like I was going to be perfect right away. God just knew what my heart’s desire was and He was going to help me in this idea of making him first in everything in my life.

That was June 16, 1998. The date is marked in pink in my Bible to this day. Every year, I try and take the day to reflect on what God did in my life and to see where I’ve come from. His grace changed my world and the lens in which I saw him. And today my love for him is wider, as I see all that I am not and all that He IS.

His grace extends to all of us, no matter where we’ve been. And his grace holds us for future things to come.

Thank you Lord, that you are an awesome God.

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Give Yourself Away

One truth I have learned for the last 10 years or so is that to truly find your life, you have to give it away. In a culture that is intensely focused on the individual, it’s a foreign idea to get your eyes off of yourself and onto other people. But this is the life we’re called to live. And it’s not the easy road. It costs something. And more often than not, something great.

Jeremiah and I have served with Apartment Life for almost 2 years now. We spend 70 hours a month organizing and planning dinners and events for our residents in order to build community and relationships with them. The platform we have is then an opportunity for us to share our lives with them (the good, bad, and the ugly) and for them to do the same with us. Our hope in turn is that we can share Christ’s love and hope. God has given us some awesome stories of life-change. Seeing hard-hearted friends who were burned by the church and wanted nothing to do with God, start to soften and embrace Him. And to finally see Him as their loving Father.

Experiences and stories like that give me great joy in helping fulfill the command to be on mission (Matthew 28:19-20). I have found joy like no other in seeing lives radically changed because of the gospel. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no greater joy than making others glad in God. That is what I think it means to give yourself away.

No man is an island. We were created for real-life relationships and community with other people. That means living life among those who are not like us and loving them where they’re at. This is what I’m being challenged with and it’s changing the way I see life and the purpose I was created for.

How can you give yourself away and help others become glad in God?

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Man on the Street: Who is Jesus?

crossFor Bluefish, we recently did some man on the street interviews here in Dallas. The interviews will go into our upcoming youth series about the tough questions we have about Jesus with David Nasser. I’m working on host copy (the words that our host will say to introduce segments in the series). Mac Powell with Third Day is going to be our host (I’m a big fan). Mac and David are good friends and have done a lot with the Glory Revealed album together.

Here are some of the comments we got off the street:

Our question: Who is Jesus?

I don’t really have an opinion of Jesus I believe that religion was created to control the masses.

He was a dude lived back in the day pretty awesome he had a beard.

Jesus is a person that existed that continues to enrich the lives of people everyday.

I think that he is a pretty cool guy he had a peaceful philosophy I think he’s misinterpreted by a lot of people.

He is the Savior of this world.

I don’t know because I don’t really believe in him so I don’t really think anything of him.

I mean he could have been a real person I mean I am sure he was I mean I am sure he was just good at what he did or something.

I kind of feel that Jesus is a modern day scapegoat.

Jesus is God I think, yeah, I just learned that.

Jesus was a man from what I figure.

He was just kind of a guy with a really unique positive message that kind of gave a lot of people a lot of hope.

He probably existed but I don’t believe he was the Son of God or anything.

Who is Jesus? is the one question that we all must come to terms with. Our destiny depends on who this figure in history was. What sets Christianity apart from any other religion is the Resurrection. If all Jesus did was live on this earth, claim to be God, die on a cross, but never rose from the dead (to prove He was God), our faith would be pointless.

The resurrection proved that He was God. Josephus, a Jewish historian, wrote about it. Archeology proves it. Over 500 eye witnesses after his resurrection proves it. Disciples who turned from cowards to courageous leaders for the gospel proves it. Prophecy upon prophecy fulfilled proves it. The list goes on.

We just simply cannot get away from dealing with Jesus and what he means for our lives. He was either a Liar, a Lunatic, or was Lord as C.S. Lewis coins it and it’s a choice we have to make. Is Jesus fully God and did he die on the cross for me to save me from my sins? Do I believe that God loves me unconditionally, right where I’m at?

Who do you say that He is?

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Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly

haugenGary Haugen, CEO of International Justice Mission, spoke at my church yesterday. I couldn’t believe this man. He was so humble and real. And God has used him to do So much in helping those who cannot help themselves. He has freed countless lives around the globe from oppression, victimization, sex and human trafficking, and the list goes on.

What spoke to me the most was his authenticity in saying how every day he wakes up he thinks about “me” and battles self. Every day he has to choose to go outside of himself and do something bigger. I kept thinking, Man, he struggles with this too? It’s Gary Haugen!?

Then I realized we’re all pretty much the same and we all battle the “me” within us. Because we’re so consumed by “me”, many of our inadequacies keep us from doing God’s will. We simply don’t believe in Him. We believe too much in ourselves. Gary encouraged us out of Matthew’s gospel to give God the fish and loaves, so that He can multiply. Clearly, this is what Gary has chosen to do.

One way we can do this is to obey God’s word by tangibly seeking out ways to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. We’re called to do it as Christians. There’s no way around it. I’ve been challenged more than ever to be involved in these critical affairs on a world-wide level and to encourage others to do the same.

And I’m so thankful that all I have to do is give God my loaves and fish, so that He can feed the people and so that His glory may be revealed. And not my own.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

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What’s Inspiring Me of Late

cannons1Several things have been inspiring me of late:

1.) Jesus- of course. all the time. without him, who in the world would I be? enough said.

2.) My husband Jeremiah– his constant encouragement, accountability, and unconditional love for me.

3.) My son John– watching his brown eyes stare into mine. his laughter and joy. He makes me want to be a better mom and woman.

4.) My job– I love working with a team of highly creative producers, writers, and graphic designers. We have a great time together. My boss is solid and loves the Lord. Bluefish is impacting so many lives and I love just being a small part of it.

5.) My church Watermark. Spurring me on to authentic community and loving this city. Gary Haugen with International Justice Mission will be speaking thus Sunday (can’t wait).

6.) Matt Chandler (his podcasts). I appreciate his constant focus on Christ and boasting in Him alone. My coworker Lonnie said he’s going to connect me and Jeremiah to Matt for coffee one day (yay!)

7.) John Piper. I’m almost through his book Don’t Waste Your Life. It has challenged me like no other book. And is causing me to do some deep soul searching (or perhaps sin searching).

8.) Musicians: Phil Wickham, Brandon Heath, Chris Tomlin, Fernando Ortega, Meredith Andrews, Laura Story. Some old. Some new. These are just a few but their artistry stands out among the rest. Their focus is obvious. God has used them to inspire my writing. Meredith lived next to me on dorm 19-1 at LU. I’m extremely proud of her and how God is using her.

Who or what’s inspiring You?

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Get out Your Gifts

tightropeWhat would be the one thing you would do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? I was challenged with this question in college and for some reason I was reminded about it yesterday.

I think this question ties in with the gifts God has given us and how we choose to use them. So maybe it would better read, “What gifts that God has given you would you use, if you knew you wouldn’t fail?”

I’ve seen different gifts really shine in my community  group for example. There are five of us girls including me.

Ashley T.- She works as an Admin. Asst. for Josh McDowell and she’s gifted in administrative work. Yet she also has another side of her that explodes with creativity. She loves photography and has an eye for capturing life and beauty. She’s humble when she relates to people and easily makes friends.

Jen- is highly hospitable- she brightens days with home-made desserts and dishes. She put on a home-made spa night for us once with edible (yes!) spa treatments. She’s gifted in organization and at performing tasks. She works as a children’s nurse and has a heart for kids. She’s truly one of a kind.

Julia- You would never guess by meeting her that she makes six figures! She’s a Physician’s Assistant who spends a lot of solitude time in serious heart surgeries, yet she’s bubbly and loves meeting people. She’s an amazing artist, painter, and is skilled in crafts. She has a way of putting “life” into people with her contagious joy.

Ashley C.- She’s our world traveler as a flight-attendant for Southwest Airlines. She frequents Italy and other amazing places around the world. With the resources God has given her, she’s blessed our group with a free Time Share together, gifts from her travels, and free plane tickets. Ashley has the sweetest heart and is just plain fun to be around.

I’m so humbled to see my friend’s gifts at work and how they’re  being used for God’s glory. So my question to you and that I’m asking myself is, How are you using your gifts now to further God’s kingdom and what gift would you start using if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

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Healing Faith

grace_candle_logoWhen God wants to show you what human nature is like apart from Himself, He has to show it to you in yourself.

I read these words out of Oswald Chambers this morning. It really hits home to me especially in the last few months where I’ve seen ugly parts of my sin. I’ve heard it said once that the closer you grow towards Christ, the more you see your sin.

Sometimes I think I’m naturally good on my own. And that I can do life on my own. Even as a Christian who knows where my identity lies, I still sometimes struggle with the latter. It’s interesting the way God works in how he shows us the nastiness of our sin. While the news will show us the depths sin can take a person (like the recent murder of the abortion doctor or a major collapse in the economy due to frivolous spending),  as Oswald said, it’s often that God will show it to us in our own hearts… (however scary that might be!)

To show us we really aren’t so good after all. A little lie. A little gossip. Anger. Pride. Selfishness. Greed. Vanity. The list goes on…

But the good news is that God’s Grace covers over all of it! That’s why He came. He died on the cross to heal us from those sins and to give us new life in Him. It’s solely by grace that my sins have been covered- nothing I could ever do on my own. And thankfully he came too so that the more I love, enjoy, and delight in him, the less I sin or desire unsatisfying things that are not of Him.

So the next time I get a sneak peak inside my soul and see the sin that’s really in there, I can thank God and praise Him all the more that He’s healing my brokenness and He’s restoring me into His image day by day. And he won’t leave me where I’m at.

That’s what I thanked him for today.

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