the day my true love died

1212536_open_bibleJeremiah’s been reading through the book of John for one of his seminary classes. Last night, he was thrilled to tell me all about what he was learning while I was cleaning up the kitchen. And I love that I get to be the one to glean from it. He then blurts out, “I’ve gotta watch the Passion.”

It’s a little late. It’s like 2 hrs. long and it’s not one of those movies you can just pop in and play. It takes mental and emotional preparation… is what I’m thinking. I thought about doing my own thing and not watching it with him, but I decided to get on the couch and join him.

It was my third time watching it (with the exception of a few scenes) and some thoughts came to my mind that have encouraged me today:

  • Jesus’ humanity– even though he was God, he came down to earth as a man and lived in our shoes. He experienced rejection, suffering, hunger, thirst, laughter, tears, and alienation from those closest to him. He understands the pain I experience today.
  • Jesus’ love– he didn’t have to go to the cross for us, but he chose to because it was his father’s will. It was the only way for man to be saved from the penalty of sin. His shed blood on the cross makes us free and alive today. The cross is the ultimate proof of his love for me today.
  • Jesus’ perfectionJesus came as a man but he was holy and perfect in every way. YET, He took on our sins for us so that we didn’t have to pay the debt. No matter where we’re at today, he invites us to come to him in all our sin, brokenness, junk, hurts, habits, the whole 9 yards. What Jesus did 2000 years ago, requires a response from me every day that I live.

After getting my pride behind me, I was really thankful to be reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice and I know it will probably be a while until I watch the Passion again.

And I can’t help but think of Phil Wickham’s song True Love:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gU-ejQxEXk&feature=player_embedded]

The love of human praise

3289021645_10d019069cA friend and I were having lunch yesterday and she revealed a struggle with an idol in her life- putting her faith, time, and acceptance in successful or popular people in order to attain some type of status or “coolness” in walking alongside those people. Even at the sacrifice of other friendships that were more meaningful.

I was actually in shock to hear her honesty. Who would really admit that? I never have.

Hearing her point of view was huge especially because she’s in a small group at her church that consists of some very successful and influential Christian leaders in our city.

Throughout Scripture, the disciples craved human praise. Sometimes they craved it so much that they didn’t believe Jesus’ words at all. And it’s safe to say that all most of us, in some form or another, call out for human praise today. While it might not be evident outwardly, it is inwardly.

John Piper says that the love of human approval is at odds with faith because

1. …true faith in Jesus gives all glory to God and none to ourselves (Romans 4:20), and

2. …true faith is a drinking of living water for the satisfaction of our souls—and the well of that water is the glory of Christ.

He goes on to say that when we place our satisfaction in Jesus and not in others, “the enslaving power of the craving for human glory is broken. Broken by the power of a superior satisfaction.”

I pray for a spirit that is broken enough to see that I don’t need the praise of others for my satisfaction. I’m thankful for my friend’s vulnerability that has helped shed light on some idols in my own life. Hopefully through a process, I’ll begin to put all my faith, time, and acceptance in my Creator God… and in Him alone.

Why I’ll never be a member of ashleymadison.com

976672929_4d8cac191cA few weeks ago, my husband was driving down the road and saw a truck advertising AshleyMadison.com. The slogan “Life is Short. Have an Affair” was written across it in big letters. They were  taking a tour through several cities to market what they have to offer. Their site boasts over 4.5 million members.

Noel Biderman, President and CEO of AshleyMadison.com states, “I don’t think a billboard is going to convince you to commit adultery. It just makes you aware of our service. People come to us because we offer them a lack of judgment. Step back and look at marriage and divorce rates. Monogamy is obviously up for debate.”

My heart breaks that monogamy is up for debate. My heart breaks that there is a lie out there that says you’ll be happy if you just… have an affair.

I’m also reminded by the fact that I am by no means immune to an affair. No one is- No matter how wonderful your marriage is. The lie is out there and wants to choke the life and joy out of every marriage.

We all know the alarming divorce stats and have been impacted and devastated by divorce either directly or indirectly. We can’t hide under the sheets and pretend that divorce is “no big deal.”  I’d like to proclaim first of all that marriage is worth fighting for.

It is worth fighting for because God’s will is for marriage alone and not for adultery. In Exodus 24, God established a decree and said, “You shall not commit adultery.” This law was established out of love and protection- not to put binding shackles on our feet or to keep us from fun.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.”

God has designed marriage so that my body doesn’t belong to me but to my husband. Therefore, the “owner” of my body is my husband and God.

There is a dark, subtle lie that is capturing the hearts of 4.5 million people and it might be capturing yours or already has- I don’t know. But God always offers forgiveness and is deeply concerned with the matters of your heart. He is always in the business of restoring what has been lost.

It’s no doubt that life is short… but it is not found in having an affair to satisfy a deeper need.

Have you seen the billboards and TV slots? What do you think?

Video: Kids Marshmellow Test

My pastor did a series on temptation called The Way of Escape. For one of his messages, one of our video guys put together a creative little illustration on the topic. It’s gone viral and was shown on The Today Show last Saturday.

Some of our friends’ kids are in the video and they are just too cute. Enjoy![youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWW1vpz1ybo]

Marriage: Built to Last #2

marriageI used to think I was perfect- until I got married. Okay so not perfect, but maybe close to perfect.

And it’s hard to believe in December we’ll be celebrating four years of marriage. It’s truly a gift from God and today, I respect and love my husband more than on the day I committed my life to his. He’s my best friend and soul-mate, and I couldn’t live with without him. But I’d be lying if I told you that our marriage isn’t hard work. And that it doesn’t require living intentionally and loving biblically.

Well for a while now, at Bluefish TV, we’ve been working on a small group bible study series called Marriage: Built to Last that I wrote about a few posts ago. We got the kit back from the manufacturer last week and I’m blown away by how well the stories, teaching, and spots have come together.

What I love most about what we’ve produced is the stories from real-life couples. They are transparent to the core and share about real life issues like expectations, communication, conflict, and sex and intimacy. I also say “to the core,” meaning that these couples get down to the dirty, ugly details of their marriage. Some of them expose their pride, anger, pornography, past baggage, affairs, control issues, spending habits, unhappiness and more.

I’ve never really seen such brutal honesty. But it’s so neat to see that through that authenticity, God can really work and it’s evident He has in their marriages. He can replace that pain and brokenness with joy and life and put couples on the path that leads to a marriage built to last.

Head on over to Bluefish TV and watch the trailer to get a sneak peak into the series. Thank you also to my friends Zech and Kim Lumpkin and Chase and Elizabeth Hammon for sharing your stories with couples across the country.

I want to be ready

6a00d83518d15e53ef00e54f9278908833-800wiOn our way home from our community group last night, we were driving down 75 and passed a guy in a suit broken down on the side of the road. He had set up bright orange reflectors several feet away from his SUV so other cars could see him in the distance. He was talking on the phone, most likely to get help.

I looked over at Jeremiah. “Man that guy was prepared. Why don’t I have those cool reflectors in the back of my car, ready to pull out when I need them?”

A few months ago I had already experienced running out of gas on 75 during rush hour. And it wasn’t fun.

I then started to think about being prepared in my own life and more specifically in my faith. Sometimes I live each day forgetting that I am on mission and that I’m a part of a much larger story that God is writing. I forget that one day, I will meet my King and Savior face to face. Sometimes I forget to be about His business, and not my own. And way too often I forget that the only way I can prepare is to trust in Him to direct my steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Because I know that one day he’s returning or either I will meet him before then, I don’t want to waste my life on things that aren’t a part of his plan. I don’t want to be caught twiddling my thumbs or arguing over petty things. Because when it’s all said and done, none of that will matter anymore. The only thing that will matter is knowing Jesus and making his glory known. And one day, I’ll be held accountable for how I choose to spend my time here on earth.

I want to be ready.

I’m sure eventually the business man on the interstate was able to get on the road again. And I’m sure the motive behind his readiness was not for the sake of being prepared, but so his life would be preserved.

Video: Bethany Allen- Outrunning Breast Cancer

Just a few years ago one of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ll never forget the day she called me telling me the news. I remember sobbing with her on the phone and doing all I could to lift everything up in prayer with her. She told me on the phone that she was still going to run her marathon she’d been training for. It was only in a few weeks at Disney World.

I booked a flight and headed to Florida to surprise her. I’ll never forget her face! I watched her finish her race strong, and not only that but finish her last year of law school while enduring multiple surgeries, taking shots every day, and battling the pain of chemotherapy and radiation.

Last year, I asked Bethany if she would share her story for an upcoming series we were working on that dealt with prayer. The series is called The Sacred Echo with author and speaker Margaret Feinberg. When Bethany flew out for my baby shower last Septermber, in one tightly packed weekend, our team at Bluefish shot her story.

The link to Bethany’s story is here. I hope it encourages you in whatever trials you’re facing today and that ultimately you’ll put your hope, faith, and trust in God alone.

the best kept secret

2785596455_848c54e8beIt’s been cloudy and raining here in Dallas for four days now. By now, I’ve heard plenty of comments about the weather and I too, wish the sun would come out again.

Contentment. I’m learning a lot about its meaning lately. God is doing a lot in our life as a family. We’ll be moving in less than two weeks from our 1200 sq. ft. apartment to a 780 sq. ft. apartment! We are ending our 2 year commitment as a CARES Team serving the residents in our apartment community through meals and events. We’ll be entering a new season of living on campus at Jeremiah’s seminary, Dallas Theological. It’s really going to be a good move for our family and there will be lots of young families to interact with who are all pursuing full-time ministry.

A lot of change is happening really soon and the temptation can be to worry and not be present in the moment. But I really want to be content. To not compare myself to others with what they’re doing or where they’re at, to not wish I had more money or more things, to not wonder how great it would be to be somewhere else, or to not wish John was older or I was younger.

The apostle Paul said,

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:11-13.)

Paul was no different than us. A lot of people put him on this huge pedestal, but he was simply a normal, imperfect man touched by a divine, perfect God. He allowed God to infuse his life.

So what exactly is Paul’s secret to contentment? He learned it. It didn’t happen in his sleep or in a few short days. God put circumstances in his life to teach him to trust and to depend on God. So whether he was rich or poor, well-fed or hungry, he gave glory to God because his joy and happiness didn’t depend on life’s happenings.

This gives me great hope today- that I can learn to be content too as God works in my heart.

Well on my way to work sitting at a stop sign, a car behind me laid on their horn for 10 whole seconds!  I was waiting for the right time to turn and I guess that wasn’t good enough. Maybe the rain and clouds were getting to that guy too. I couldn’t believe it.

Oh well. He probably needs to learn contentment too.

Josh Wilson: Savior, Please

I’ve heard a lot about singer/songwriter Josh Wilson lately. This song has been so refreshing and is a powerful reminder of who I am not, and all that God is and how he continues to save me day by day.

I hope you’ll listen to these lyrics and be encouraged by God’s love for you today.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diUhGip85U8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.journeymanproject.org%2Fpage%2F2%2F&feature=player_embedded#t=250]Savior, please take my hand .

life without fear?

29_NewsPGMPHovIn less than one month, my brother-in-law Paul who is a Navy Chaplain will get on a plane and head to Afghanistan to serve our country. He will say goodbye to my sister and four-year-old nephew for six whole months. Because of what’s going on over there, I have my share of worries and fears when it comes to Paul’s safety and God’s sovereignty.

But I’ve been encouraged today in reading Chapter 1 of Max Lucado’s new book Fearless. I downloaded the PDF off of The Fearless Times, a site that’s all about the book and is a great marketing tool for it.

In almost 25 years of writing, more than 65 million books filled with Max Lucado’s words have been sold. Max is so gifted when it comes to words that you’d think he was Jesus. But he’s not. He’s a human being with fears just like you and me.

Here are some of my favorite lines from Ch. 1 that I hope will tease you into heading over there and reading it for yourself:

“Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.”

“Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and, as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm; an unstirred Christ.”

“Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. We begin to wonder if love lives in heaven. If God can sleep in our storms, if his eyes stay shut when our eyes grow wide, if he permits storms after we get on his boat, does he care? Fear unleashes a swarm of doubts, anger-stirring doubts.”

“And fear feels dreadful. It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state, and drains us dry of contentment. We become abandoned barns, rickety and tilting from the winds, a place where humanity used to eat, thrive, and find warmth. No longer. When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life.”

“If we medicate fear with angry outbursts, drinking binges, sullen withdrawals, self-starvation, or viselike control, we exclude God from the solution and exacerbate the problem. We subject ourselves to a position of fear, allowing anxiety to dominate and define our lives. Joy-sapping worries. Day-numbing dread. Repeated bouts of insecurity that petrify and paralyze us. Hysteria is not from God. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7).

I have always loved 2 Timothy 1:7 in that fear is not from God. Fear can make us do all kinds of crazy things.

As we get closer to Paul’s deployment, I know that God wants me to continue to trust that he’s in control and he’s directing Paul’s path no matter where he goes. The issue isn’t really about Paul going to a dangerous place, but whether I will trust and have faith in God that He is good and is sovereign over everything in life.

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