Is it impossible? Say that it’s possible.
Middle child syndrome. I was born the 3rd out of 5 kids, whichever way you start counting. To gain attention, affirmation, and validation, I tried to become funny, witty, interesting, unique. Using my words, I reached and I grasped for scraps, hungry for a sense of belonging, power, and love.
When you do this for years, you get pretty good at it. As I grew in intimacy with the Father and He expanded my heart to begin seeing others with more understanding, my motives behind my words became mixed. Self-protection lumped in with genuine care. Self-promotion stacked against a desire to be generous. Sneaking in a few selfish needs while also still wanting to hear from the Holy Spirit. Compliments paid to others became humble, self-centered brags in disguise. When others recognize you for how great they think you are, I felt dirty because I was the only one who knew I was wearing a mask.
Fear. The belief that if I don’t strive, manipulate, or create a certain image of myself, I won’t be good enough. Doubt that what Jesus says He will do for me is sufficient. So I fight for myself, using words.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Driven by fear, I fight and I fight and I fight and I remain more bankrupt than ever. Because, so long as my words come from a place a fear, there is no room for love to enter.
Perfect love casts out fear. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Fearless. Unafraid. Unashamed. Words You speak over me into the new year. In 2018, I will repent of my unbelieving heart and trust that I am enough and You are better. I will choose love over fear. I will use my mouth to speak life and not death over your people. Instead of using words to defend myself or to manipulate and control others, I will use them to empower those around me. By Your love, my words will be fearless.
You see me, You know me, and You understand my heart in its every stage. You love me, and all my fear-built walls come crashing down, one by one.
Do not be afraid, just follow the light.
A lifestyle of joy.
James 1:18 – Lead with your ears, follow with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.
1 Cor 13: 13 – Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
Romans 8:14 – God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
Ephesians 5:4 – Thanksgiving is our dialect.
It’s not all about what you accomplish in life. It’s about who you become in the process.
If you want to impress people, share your successes. If you want to impact people, share your failures.
There’s life in everything, so find it. Your words have power. Make a choice not speak death over your city, over your season, over those people. You have a choice. Do you choose life or do you choose death?
It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh is no help at all. I am the most worthless vessel without the Spirit. Without the Spirit, choosing life ends up really being discouraging. It HAS to be through the Spirit. Your season may be hard but the Spirit can.
Relational, physical, spiritual death – they’re all real. We know death is a real thing. But it’s not going to last forever. God has other plans. The contrast is so in our face. You can’t talk yourself out of that.
Say yes. Say yes to choosing life. We need more life. There is life. You are growing something inside of us.
Yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. It doesn’t matter how dead we are – all we need is a scent of life and a scent of hope and it brings us alive. Because that’s how we were created.
Hope. It literally changes everything. A little drop of hope changes the conversation. Hope says, this is not the end. He has and he will continue to give us drops of hope like little drops of water.
As long as we are alive, we’re known by and loved by Him. You want to be a loved woman. A loved woman can do anything. That’s what He has for us.
God, help me do this on your timeline. The sequence of the events of my studying (or working, or anything) is what He ordains.
From the chains of a lesser love you set me free.
Generosity is about so much more than money. Generosity at its core is about love.
Generosity extends to when you’re behind the wheel of your car. When the person in front of you becomes a person, not an obstacle, not something that makes you uncomfortable. A person.
May we be people who erupt in Thanksgiving when we talk about giving. Thanks be to God! Because I know me without Him.
The grace of God is the gift of God. His gift is indescribable. We cannot give adequate words to describe it because it is amazing beyond our ability to articulate. This gift is beyond humble, beyond sacrifice, beyond generous. This gift gives me a new heart.
This gift is a Person. Love, Truth, and Grace have a name. This gift transcends all time, talent, and treasure.
Earn all you can. Money isn’t the root of all evil. The love of money is. The more you earn, the more you give away.
God’s generosity changed the world. Does God’s generosity shape the way you live? Powerful and generous people change the world.
By Christ’s poverty, He made us rich. How are you making others rich by your generosity?
Zaccheus – salvation came to the home of the oppressor. Zaccheus created injustice and was a part of the oppressive culture of his time. But to Jesus, lostness is lostness. Jesus goes right up to him and says, “My man”.
Woman at the well – Jesus went where His disciples wouldn’t go because people are lost and lost people need to be saved.
In evangelism, the social setting you create is very important because they need to trust you. Jesus sent His disciples away and talked to her alone because she was already too ashamed in social settings. He pulls back the curtain on the most shameful parts of her life but she doesn’t run away. Instead, she leans in to the conversation. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance.
Woman caught in adultery – Jesus was calling for justice. Justice ministry = evangelism. She was a victim and was being abused by religious leaders. He restores dignity to her.
The fuel for all your evangelistic conversations is you being loved by God. Intimacy fuels evangelism.
Saving people is above my pay grade. Loving people with the love of Christ is NOT. Crawling into their world and their mess is NOT.
People don’t go to heaven because they fear hell, they go to heaven because they find God’s love.
I Thes. 5:15-18: Rejoice always. A few of the biggest barriers to evangelism: grumbling, griping, and complaining. These are addictive and sinful behaviors. You’re either addicted to rejoicing or addicted to complaining. If you are grumbling, griping, and complaining, you are believing God doesn’t know what He’s doing in the general purpose of your life. How do you expect God to give you specific revelation when you’re not content in the general placement He’s given you?
Whatever is in you comes out of you when someone bumps into you. If you’re holding a cup of orange juice and someone bumps into you, orange juice spills out onto them. The same is true with love, fear, anger, etc.
I’m going on a date with some guy on Wednesday.
Saturday night, the same day after that guy asked me out, the pain felt so raw again. Like you had just broken up with me all over again. I curled into a ball in my bed and hugged myself. I didn’t cry; I wept.
I miss you.
Making plans to go on a date with somebody else means having to surrender that hope I have that maybe, just maybe, we aren’t over. It also means having to let go once more.
But I didn’t want to. I thought I had already let go plenty enough but now I had to do it again. It was really hard, more hard than most other times. It’s like all the recent progress I had made went out the window, but I really didn’t care because I was hurting that much.
Then I opened the little book Andrea gave me years ago:
I know you live in a world where many relationships come to a bitter end. But I am not man. I will never leave you or forsake you. I am with you wherever you are, and I will never abandon you. If ever you doubt I am here, just ask Me and I will reveal Myself to you in a very special way. You can trust your heart in My care. I will not let you down as long as you look up. [Sheri Rose Shepherd]
Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that – heaven country. [Hebrews 11: 13-16]
This is it. This is what it means to look up. This is what empowers me to be able to surrender my brokenness to You for the nth time. I can keep on believing because disappointment takes on a whole new definition. But seriously! My treasures aren’t here because my home isn’t earth. I am transient in this world. Therefore, these promises of wholeness God speaks over me are not limited to the here and the now. No, God’s promises find their ultimate home in heaven country. That is where I find hope.
Look up, oh heart, look up.
for grad school. lol. i didn’t even know what flip cup was. or how to play beer pong. i felt stupid. but hey – that’s not what Jesus says about me.
i’m actually becoming friends with “normal” white people who party. the kind who do so regularly like it’s nbd.
and it makes me feel like a bigger person. that’s unfortunate (not because i’m talking to and hanging out with the cool kids, but because that means my identity is tied to who i am associated with). also, B pointing at me approvingly after i did my speech was…new. the frattiest of frat kids affirmed, noticed and saw me.
1 Timothy 6:11-21
But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.
I’m charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn’t give an inch: Keep this command to the letter, and don’t slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. He’ll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He’s the only one death can’t touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He’s never been seen by human eyes—human eyes can’t take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes.
Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.
And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith.
Overwhelming grace keep you!
i was talking to Dom today about comparison. there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but sin steps in when i start comparing myself with others. with how i stack up. when i stop focusing on Your assignments for me because i’m too busy thinking about who i am standing in front of.
You didn’t preoccupy Yourself with the fact that You were standing in front of Pontius Pilate, the most powerful and feared man for hundreds and hundreds of miles.
You had a mission. Your eyes were on a target, on the treasure.
what was the treasure? redeeming and winning back the souls of man. You refused to let Yourself get caught up in the title, wealth, and power of Pilate because objectifying and reducing him to those things were to go against the very nature of what You were called to do. You didn’t dare let Yourself fall for what Pilate represented because Your treasure was His heart.
will You show me how to stand, unmoved, before both the kings and the most destitute of this earth – all while guarding the treasure i’ve been given. the gift of being able to go after God, do good, and be rich in helping others. to be the kind of friend to my classmates who sees them, not for what they can do for me, but as treasures whose hearts are worth more than anything this world can buy.
I live with a vision
I’m covered by the force of love
Covered in my Savior’s blood
I am no orphan
I’m not a poor man
The Kingdom’s now become my own
And with the King I’ve found a home
He is my Father
I do not wonder
If His plans for me are good
If He’ll come through like He should
Cause He is provision
And enough wisdom
To usher in my brightest days
To turn my mourning into praise
I am who He says I am
He is who He says He is
I’m defined by all His promises
Shaped by every word He says
He’s not just reviving
Not simply restoring
Greater things have yet to come
Greater things have yet to come
I had another dream about you.
I ran into you on the steps of meadows and I think in the dream you said you were ready to do this, so we started hanging out again. I can’t remember exactly what we did in the dream. But I do know the focus was on the fact that we hung out. We talked a lot and spent quality time together. That was the whole dream. Just two normal individuals, chatting.
Dreams are not normally things I want to relive or replay. But I woke up from this one wishing I could go back. In this dream, we were given something you and I never got in real life: time.
Time. Time to get to know your heart, to hear your little life stories and the big ones, too. To feel your pain as you recount the struggles you’ve lived through and celebrate your joy as you describe the victories. To discover the unique things that make you, you. To laugh at your weirdness. To be continually surprised by you every step of the way. To learn you and know you through and through. All things that required time; all things we were not meant to have.
- by trusting You with my unknown, i am actually just submitting to what You can see. all the things that scare me about the unknown are already known by You.
- Your goodness binds my wandering heart to You. not Your anger, not Your condemnation, not Your judgment, not Your disappointment. but Your goodness.
- my mantra when thinking about grad school this week: keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping. [1 Cor 16: 13-14]
There’s no comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.
Just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence.
All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life – a life that goes on and on and on – world without end.
now that school has started, all the studying i’m doing to make up for the studying i didn’t do in undergrad is forcing me to sit for hours at a time.
and it’s good because i get to think and process. i’m learning for the first time what it means to allow what i’m thinking and feeling to fully sink in instead of rushing to slap bandaids over anything i think i shouldn’t be feeling. this slower pace of life makes it easier to sort out the junk in my head and heart that isn’t truth or life-giving. it opens up space for His voice to be heard.
it seems like every week i get a new song from Him. this week’s song:
If I told you this was only gonna hurt
If I warned you that the fire’s gonna burn
Would you walk in?
Would you let me do it first?
Do it all in the name of love
Would you let me lead you even when you’re blind?
In the darkness, in the middle of the night
In the silence, when there’s no one by your side
Would you call in the name of love?
If I told you we could bathe in all the lights
Would you rise up, come and meet me in the sky?
Would you trust me when you’re jumping from the heights?
Would you fall in the name of love?
When there’s madness, when there’s poison in your head
When the sadness leaves you broken in your bed
I will hold you in the depths of your despair
And it’s all in the name of love
I wanna testify
Scream in the holy light
You bring me back to life
And it’s all in the name of love
and just like each of the other songs He’s given me this summer, this has been what my soul needed, just at the right time.
three months ago, i wouldn’t have dreamed of being okay with where i am emotionally today. i was obsessed with being carefree and happy and in control of where my heart went. subconsciously making myself believe i was always okay made life efficient and easy. i couldn’t imagine anything other than waking up knowing i could tackle the day ahead of me, just like i did yesterday and just like i would tomorrow. i judged others who didn’t operate the same way i did because i was convinced my way was the best.
numbness was my good friend. i hadn’t felt pain in a long time. and from what i remembered, pain was an outside evil to be avoided, not a feeling that crushed from within when no one else was watching. the heart is pretty dang good at protecting itself – so good that, before you know it, you don’t realize you’ve shut out everything that could ever hurt you, including the good things that must happen in order for your heart to come alive.
since he broke things off a few months ago, i feel like the physical heart that’s sitting inside of my chest has expanded by 3 inches all around. when i’m sad, it pushes against my sternum. when i’m aching, it suddenly gains 10 pounds and weighs like a ton of bricks on top of everything else inside me. when something happens that resonates deep within, my heart starts pumping blood faster and i feel it begin to throb frantically.
but the thing is, never in my life have i felt more alive. through it all, He really has been bringing me back to life and He is more real to me than He’s ever been before. it’s a scary thing not to be god of how i am inside but i’m beginning to actually like it. when Christians talk about God’s destiny for your life and how His plans for you are better than your own, i’ve always tended to imagine giving up external parts of myself. dying to myself meant a different career path, wearing different clothes, relating to people differently. which can all be true, but it also means surrendering the internal.
and for me, that means letting go of trying to control how i feel (or don’t feel). trying to contain God in my head doesn’t cut it; He wants to move into my heart. the first step to freedom is coming to grips with the reality of your ugliness – but how was i to know how my soul was doing if i had no idea what was going on with it ever since i stuffed it 30 feet below ground twelve years ago?
but now. He wants to show me how to stop lying to my heart and teach me to trust what He wants to do with me. and because He is God and i am not, He’s got something for me that’s better than boxing myself up inside an emotional island.
God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.
Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.
Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice?
The Messiah puts everything right for those who trust him to do it.
Say the welcoming word to God – “Jesus is my Master” – doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation.
it’s a weird thing for me to get to say, but: i kind of like this new way of doing things. it’s annoyingly uncomfortable at times, but it’s also freeing. you know how there are some things in life that make you think, wow that was totally supposed to happen because it just feels and looks right? well, this process of Jesus tuning my heart to look like His by leading me down a path of surrender feels right because it is right. my heart becoming whole is how it was intended to be. it’s a good feeling. it’s a great feeling.
Jesus, You are so good to me.
Can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy.
today was a good day for me. yesterday wasn’t so good, and neither was the day before it. it’s easier to find joy in what He says He’s doing within me on better days like this one, i know.
but Jesus – what i want is to be someone whose pursuit and ultimate reward are not your good gifts. i want to be a girl whose one desire is to be Yours and for You to be mine. when the brokenness inside me comes knocking, i want to be sitting up high with you. i want You to be my strong tower, my safe refuge, my green pasture. You, and not what You allow to happen to me. You, and not my circumstances, both external and internal. You, and not the memory of what was and the possibility of what could be.
You – because You and only You – are my beautiful inheritance.
Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him.
Always glory. Always praise. Yes. Yes. Yes.