Mommy, Are You Afraid to Tell Others About Jesus?

May 31, 2017

I had just slipped my foot into my right shoe when my oldest daughter came around the corner and asked to sit on my lap for a minute.  I began to brush her hair and make sideways piggy tails per her request. We talked for a minute and I explained to her that I would be home late since I was going to speak at a church. 

“Mommy is going to tell others about Jesus.  Isn’t that cool?” I said as I pinned her favorite bow in her hair.  

“Yeah it is.” She said.  

But then she paused for a moment as if she had something else on her mind. 

Mommy, are you ever afraid to tell others about Jesus?”

Her question flabbergasted me for a moment.  I wanted to answer with an immediate “No, absolutely not! Mommy is never afraid to tell others about Jesus!” But this was a teachable moment, and one I wanted to be honest with her about. And so I answered her the best way I knew how.

“Sometimes I do get little butterflies in my belly when I talk in front of others because I am nervous, but I love telling others about Jesus and His love.  But yes, sometimes sweetie, I do get a little afraid because it isn’t always easy to do that.”  

She turned towards me with her signature crooked smile. 

“Yeah, well when I tell others about Jesus, I’m only a little afraid too.  But only a little.” She said as if she speaks to crowds of people all the time.  She ran off to chase her sister with her sideways piggy tails bouncing behind her and I sat back contemplating the weight of what she had just asked me.

I have to tell you friends.  That simple question from my four year old has weighed heavily on my heart for weeks now.  The truth is that sometimes I am afraid.  Sharing our faith with others, and explaining our relationship with Jesus, can be hard sometimes.

Often, things like fear of rejection or judgment or uncertainty hold us back from telling others about Him.  Maybe one of these statements rings true for you:

I don’t know the Bible as well as I should. 
I might get asked something I don’t know. 
I might be judged for sharing too much.
I make it clear I’m a Christian so they know how I feel about Jesus.
I don’t want to offend them; it might turn them off for good.

I get it friend.  You see, it’s a lot easier for me to stand up in front of a group of seasoned believers and preach a message of encouragement and hope in Jesus.  It’s safe there for me.  It’s comfortable.  But could I do this with someone I’ve just met? Someone I don’t know?

I cringe at the thought of how I hesitate at that.  

You see, I want to raise girls that are warriors for Jesus.  Girls that are fiercely protective of the Kingdom of God and its people. Girls that aren’t afraid to stand up for the lost.  The broken.  The devalued. The forgotten of society.

And to walk Jesus strong, they’re going to need an example to follow. My conversation with my oldest daughter led me to a stark realization.  It’s time for me to warrior up and stop wasting time by not telling others about my love for Him. 

Listen sweet friends, moment of hard truth.  We don’t have time to spare.  I say this with urgency because people need Jesus and they need Him desperately. They don't even know how much they need Him, but they do.  And we need to be the ones to tell them about Him.

About His mercy. His grace. His forgiveness. How by His blood we get to live a blameless life. 

We get pulled into a thousand directions every day.  The world promotes a gazillion and one methods for finding peace and hope in the midst of a chaotic world.  

But there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that will replace the peace Jesus gives us.  

There is not a marketing tool or product that can dispense the hope we so desperately need like Jesus. 

He is my answer.  He is the answer.

I am nothing without Jesus.  I am nothing without His love.  I am nothing without His grace or mercy.  I am nothing without His forgiveness.  For because He paid it all, all to Him I will forever owe.

And I will fight tooth and nail so that others can know this too.  I don’t want to be afraid to tell others about Jesus.  I don’t want to hesitate when it comes to showing others who is my all in all. I won’t choose comfort anymore.  I will not stand back and watch the world teach my girls who they are created to be...who I am created to be. 

I will not allow fear to dwell within me any longer.   

We can spend our days worrying about offending people or getting their approval or waiting for the perfect time to talk about Jesus, or we can start sharing about His love in any way we can.  

Now is the time to testify.  Now is the time to warrior up and make known whose Kingdom we serve.  We serve a mighty God who is still alive.  Who still works miracles.  Who still redeems.  Who still reaches out to us for a personal relationship.  A God who is calling for His people to rise up and make His name known. 

You don’t need to be a missionary in a far off land to tell others about Jesus. Our mission field is where God has planted us in our current season of life.  Our work places.  Our homes. Our churches. Our neighborhoods.

Telling others about Jesus isn’t about walking up to them and shouting the Bible at them.  It comes in showing others who we are in Him and what He’s done in us. 

Let your life be your testimony. Practice an attitude of thankfulness in every situation. Tell people of the miracles He’s performed in your own life, big and small.  Tell them of the chains you’ve been freed from.  Tell them about His goodness.  Tell them about the God you love and the Son who went to the cross for you.  For them. For us all. 

My daughter’s question sparked a change in me.  My work as a mother has a clearer vision now and a clearer purpose.  I want them to watch me as I grow in my faith and know that they have a mother who loved Jesus with everything she had and wasn't afraid to tell others about Him. A mother who was never fearful or ashamed of The Gospel message.  

May my life, and yours, be reflective of Acts 20:24:

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned to me by Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Forever yours Jesus, Amen. 

It’s Okay that You’re Not Okay

May 18, 2017

Hey friend,

I know you’re trying so hard to hold it together right now.  I know it seems like everything is falling apart and you don’t know which way to turn.  I know that it all seems out of control and grasping at straws is how you live your life nowadays.  Can I tell you something?

It’s okay that you’re not okay right now. 

It’s okay that life seems restless and chaotic.  Topsy turvy even. That doesn’t mean it feels good.  I know it doesn’t.  It’s draining. It’s daunting. Sometimes even down right painful.   

But friend?  

Just stop. Stop pretending right now. You don't have to fake it another minute. You don’t have to pretend that it’s all okay or that you’ve got everything under control. You don’t have to keep trying to figure out what is coming next. You don’t even have to pretend to like your current circumstance. 

I know the guard you’ve got up. Hell-bent on trying to prove to others that you’re holding it all together, that you’re taking it all like a pro. That you can handle anything that is thrown at you. 

But the reality of it friend? We can't. We can't handle any of it without Him.

You don’t have to always be okay.  Because it’s during the times of being unsettled and restless when we will continually seek God.  We will probably seek Him harder than we ever have before.  And we should.  We should chase Him down because He is the only hope we've got to get through it.  

It's during those times of not being okay when our prayers are prayed in desperation and sometimes hopelessness.  And all of that works together for our good in the messiest and most beautiful ways. 

Friend, just hang in there. 

This is where God often does His best work.  Oh yes.  The times when you're on your knees in desperation and complete surrender. Unsure of the future. Even downright burdened and overwhelmed with the current circumstance. Stuck in the ick and can’t get out.  This is where we draw close to our Creator.  The One who goes before us and knows our every need. 

This season of not being okay is temporary.  You need to know this.  I know that right now it doesn’t feel that way.  I know that right now you can’t see an end to it all and you’re wondering where in the world God is in all of this and what you’re supposed to do next.  

How can God redeem this?  How can He bring good from this?  

Oh sweet friend, you just watch.  

I know it's hard, but it’s okay to release those things to Him. The things you want to hold so tightly to, but know you can't.  Your children. Your marriage. Your dreams. The things you don’t understand in this world.  You can release it all to Him.  You can stop worrying about whether or not God will come through on His end.  He will. Because He’s the same God He’s always been.  He hasn’t changed.  

The same God that provided manna each day for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness is still the same God we serve today.  The same God that walked in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and allowed them to come back without even a hair singed still lives today.  The same God who took the widow’s two mites and blessed them still reigns.  And the same God who came down on this earth in human form is alive and wants to be Lord of your life.  

So get desperate for Him.  Be hungry for His word and His promises. Wait with expectation that He will do something in you.  Something only He can do.   

It’s okay that you’re not okay today friend.  Maybe tomorrow you will be okay. Really okay, not the fake okay. And maybe it's next week. Next month. A year from now. At some point you will be okay again.  

Until then, know that in the stillness of waiting, God is there with you. He will not give up on you and He will most certainly not fail you. You can let go.  You don't have to pretend with Him.  He's got you and He's not letting go.  

Need a little extra encouragement today?  Try this friend

Hope for the Overburdened Leader

May 10, 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately.  I’ve been thinking about your service and how you’re chasing hard after your calling as a leader. I’ve been thinking about the way you handle everything as well as you do.  The way you care.  The way you love the people you serve.

I see your passion.  I see your perseverance.  I see that sometimes, even when you don’t want to admit it, this leader thing in its finest and truest form can become too much for your soul to bear.

I’ve been thinking about how you pour your heart and soul into your small groups, your ministry projects, your family, and even your dreams. You want to give everyone and everything your best. You’re giving it all you’ve got, letting your passion and heart for the Lord push you from one thing to the next.

It’s all good work, right?  That’s what we tell ourselves.

We convince ourselves that we’re doing all this good work for everyone else, but we never stop and think about how it affects our own souls.

I see you, friend.  Called to lead.  Called to mentor. Called to give of yourself in mighty Kingdom ways.

But if you and I were across from each other right now, sipping on our favorite beverage, maybe a chai tea for you and a mocha for me, and we were brutally honest with one another, we would say the words we’re afraid to say.  We’re afraid to say them now because it might affect how we’re perceived as leaders.  Afraid that by voicing the very thing we’re scared to say, it might mean we somehow don’t care.

If we were to put our drinks down for a minute, look one another straight in the eyes, and say that brutally honest thing to each other, we would say this:

Head over to More to Be to read on friend.  

How God Redeemed Our Birth Story

May 4, 2017

"Erupt with thanks to the Eternal, for He is good
and His loyal love lasts forever.
Let all those redeemed by the Eternal—
those rescued from times of deep trouble—join in giving thanks."

Psalm 107: 1-2 (VOICE)

This past weekend my youngest daughter Georgia turned two years old. The time has gone by quicker than I ever imagined it would. It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years since we spent those days in the hospital waiting for her to come. Days filled with lots of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation at what life with two little ones would be like.

You see, both of my girls are miracle babies. Just in very different ways. Before you read any further, I would encourage you to start here. Years ago I wrote about Brooke’s birth story and it will help you better understand the miracle of how God redeemed our birth story the second time around.

My pregnancy with Brooke was high-risk. I developed Cholestasis of Pregnancy, or ICP, during my second trimester. ICP is a liver disorder that effects the flow of bile and cells in the liver. It is extremely dangerous because if not diagnosed, there is an increased chance of still birth. There is no cure (besides delivery) but it can be managed with medication. The main symptom of ICP is moderate to severe itching. I spent hours a day clawing at my hands and feet. To sum up, it was not fun. You can read more about my experience with ICP in Brooke’s birth story and I will include some resource links at the bottom of this post.

I say all that to say, this is where God’s redeeming work began. He redeemed our birth story long before we ever set foot in a hospital. During my pregnancy with Georgia, God healed my body of ICP. Let me explain. You see, there was no medical reason that I should not have gotten it again. Statistics show that with each pregnancy, a mother’s chances of developing ICP only increases if she’s had it in a previous pregnancy. Let's just say the odds weren’t in my favor.

Every few weeks I would have my doctor test my blood work levels. I waited in fear for the itching to begin. I waited for the sleepless nights of clawing at my legs and arms. I waited to feel the fear of a high risk delivery again. I waited and waited.

I knew I couldn’t hold onto the fear anymore, so one night during my second trimester, I prayed fervently over Georgia in the name of Jesus for healing. I prayed that He would not let my body go through what it had before. I prayed that there would be no trace of ICP during this pregnancy. Tears fell as I released my body to Him. To this day it’s still one of the most powerful prayers I’ve ever prayed. A prayer prayed out of desperation and release.

I felt God’s peace flood over my entire body. I knew I didn’t need to worry about ICP anymore. God was in control and He had healed my body. The itching never came. My blood work came back at normal levels every time. No ICP. No early delivery. No high risk pregnancy.

Already God had redeemed our story, but He was just getting started.

The time had finally come for us to check into the hospital to have Georgia. As we checked in, the nurse led us to the corner room just on the other side of the nurse’s desk. I paused as she motioned for us to come around the corner and get settled in. Please, no. Not that room. I thought.

For it was in that room where my first baby had to fight for her life. It’s in that room where I saw panic come across Brian’s eyes as he watched his wife and baby girl face obstacle after obstacle. Nothing in his control and nothing in mine.

It was in that very room where my daughter came into this world not breathing. That room. That room was not a source of joy for me. I remember emotional pain, worry, despair, hopelessness, and an exhaustion I’ve never felt since.

No, God. Don’t put us in that room. You know the trauma and awful memories this room holds.

As the nurse handed me a dull blue hospital gown I felt God’s presence. Do you know my power child? I’ve got you. Do not worry.

As the day progressed, several of the same issues we had with Brooke’s labor and delivery happened again. They had trouble locating Georgia’s heartbeat and I spent much of my labor time moving from position to position trying to get a heartbeat read. I was terrified that we were going to repeat the same birth experience.

But God.

God knew that my heart’s desire was to have a positive birthing experience with Georgia. He knew everything that happened with Brooke because He was there through it all. He was there as the team of doctors and nurses rushed around her to keep her alive. He was there in the moments afterward when my body was utterly give out from exhaustion. He was there on the empty hallway when my husband broke down sobbing on my father in law’s shoulder as we waited for doctors to confirm whether or not Brooke would need to be air lifted to a children’s hospital.

God was there. He never left us. His healing power saved my first daughter and I believed He would do it again.

God absolutely redeemed our birth story. After she was born, she went right up on my chest, perfectly healthy. Perfectly redeemed. There was no respiratory team or anyone that took her from me. God gifted us the moment I had wanted for a long time. Just me, Brian, and our new healthy (and pink!) baby girl. Georgia Hope. Yes, the middle name was very intentional.

We were able to take our time with her, take in every one of her features. When Brooke was born, I had no idea what she looked like until I saw her hours later in the NICU. But not this time. God showed us His power and His love by giving us the sweetest moments after Georgia’s birth.

We spent a few days in the hospital, not because of Georgia, but because of me. Because I had hemorrhaged a few weeks after Brooke’s birth, doctors kept a close check on me throughout our stay. I was ready to leave the hospital but also a little nervous at the thought of what the next few weeks might bring. What if they missed something and I hemorrhaged again? What if this time was worse than the last?

But I knew God was with us and this was an experience He was going to redeem to the end. Weeks went by and I never hemorrhaged. Glory to God.

I spent some time thinking about why it’s taken me so long to write this story out. I think in part, it’s very difficult for me to go back and relive the trauma of Brooke’s birth story. I've spared a lot of the details here, but the experience was a difficult one. God healed her, Praise Jesus, but the experience left an emotional scar that is hard for this mama to open back up. But I needed to open it up, because opening it up allows me to look at both my girls and realize that they are both miracles.

Writing this story of redemption has been very healing for me. I am so very thankful for all of God’s mercies and His protection over us. We had a wonderful team of doctors and nurses during both experiences and I praise God that with each birth, He put the people in place that I needed most to be there.

Nurses that prayed over me and my babies, a doctor who took me seriously when I had concerns that my ICP was back a second time. He obliged me with each blood test I requested, even though the results came back negative each time. Nurses who were encouraging and patient and comforting as I shared with them the experience of the first go round and how I was scared out of my mind we would repeat the process. None of it an accident. Each person placed there so God could continue out His redeeming work. I find it simply amazing that God would pay that much attention to the little details.

Georgia’s birth healed me of the trauma I had experienced during Brooke’s birth. God took every fear that had remained there since Brooke’s birth and delivered more over.

And that fighter baby, the girl who spent time hooked up to wires and machines that helped her breathe the first hours of her life, she’s four now. She runs and plays and throws the most Oscar worthy tantrums I’ve ever seen. When I look at her now, it’s hard to believe where she started. But that is the power of our God. She is a walking miracle and testimony of God’s faithfulness and love to us.

And my Georgia Hope never ceases to amaze me. From the moment we found out we were expecting her, God’s hand has been all over that child. Through her, He has given us such immense joy. He has repeatedly shown us His power through her.

Credit: Mallory Kate Photography 

Let me tell you something friend, God is still a God who redeems. You need to know that. Whether it’s a birth story, a marriage, a prodigal child or a diagnosis that seems hopeless. He is still the God who redeems.

"This is why I keep telling you not to worry about anything in life—about what you’ll eat, about how you’ll clothe your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than fancy clothes. Think about those crows flying over there: do they plant and harvest crops? Do they own silos or barns? Look at them fly. It looks like God is taking pretty good care of them, doesn’t it? Remember that you are more precious to God than birds! "

Luke 12:22-24 (VOICE)

Friend, if you think God has forgotten you or you’re worried about a situation, find comfort in these words from His Son. “Remember that you are more precious to God than birds.” God is still working. Trust in His power. Trust in His timing. Trust in His faithfulness.

ICP Resources:

What is ICP?

Signs & Symptoms

ICP Care Facebook Page

When I Think of What You Did for Me

April 11, 2017

My sweet Jesus, I've been thinking about you a lot lately.  It's not that I don't think about you every day, because I do.  But it's just that in light of the season that's upon us, there are a few things I must tell you.  I wanted to make my words eloquent and greatly poised for you, but I realize you don’t care about fancy words and carefully crafted sentences.  You care about my heart and my obedience.  My willingness to follow you. My openness to your workings. 

I realize I've never said these words to you before and I’m a little nervous as to how it will all come out.  I want to say it right because words carry weight and I need you to know just how much I've thought about this. 

I cast my mind to Calvary
Where Jesus bled and died for me.
I see His wounds, His hands, His feet.
My Saviour on that cursed tree.

I try to place myself there with you on the moment you uttered the words “not my will, but yours be done” (Matthew 26:39).  I try to imagine you there in the Garden of Gethsemane, surrounded by your own creation, knowing what is to come.

I try to imagine your face as you made the decision that affected the rest of eternity.  The decision that crushed the enemy, that allows us to spend forever with you. 

Jesus, when I think of what you did for me, my heart can hardly bear it.

When I think of the betrayal you must have felt from your own men, and how it must have pained you to hear people mocking you as you proclaimed you were The King. They had already decided who you were long before they pinned you upon that cross.  Your own men turned their backs on you and denied you, and yet you continued to love them.

When I think of the burden you bore as they pushed that crown of thorns down onto your head, I can do nothing but weep. I imagine the thorns piercing your head, and tearing flesh off of your face and it sends a shiver down my spine.

When I think of the heaviness of the cross you physically carried up the hill; the hill that saw my sins taken and my freedom born, it makes my heart ache. You must have felt the relentless weight of the wood and of our sin with each gut-wrenching step.

I wince at the thought of the nails being driven into your hands.  It makes me nauseous to think of the pain you must have felt as the sharp nails pierced your skin and veins.  And it was just the beginning.

You continued through the crowd’s blasphemous claims that you were no king, no one special. You looked down with forgiveness and love towards them.

You were still ministering, still accepting followers up until the last moments.  You barely had any breath left and yet you spoke The Truth to the criminal who was hanging next to you. You were always about us and for us, even in your last moments.

When I think of how you must have felt as the sky went dark and you thought Your Father had forsaken you, I must wipe the tears away.  For it was too much for Him to bear.  He could not watch you die, He could not look upon the sin you took for us.

I think of the sour wine they held up to your mouth to help nourish you in those final moments and how those that loved you and truly knew you must have looked on in horror and felt hopeless.

I can hardly contain my tears when I think of how your mother, Mary, looked on as it all happened.  Your earthly mother, the mother that nursed you, kissed your tiny infant hands and held you close, had to watch her beloved Son take the sin of the world.  The world that rejected Him, mocked Him, and never wanted Him to be their Savior.

I try to place myself there and imagine this as it is happening and I simply can’t.  Because when I try to think of what you did for me, I can’t stomach it.  It’s too much. 

I come undone when I think of the spear that pierced your side because the guards wanted to make sure you were actually dead and that it was all over. But you had already muttered your final words, it is finished, and your mission was finally complete.  

How could you do this for us? My human mind can’t fathom it, can’t dream up the reasons for you becoming our Lamb and taking it all for us. Except that it was Your Father’s plan from the beginning.  And God is so very good and so very purposeful. 

When I play this scene over in my mind as I read through the scriptures and think of what you did for me, it just makes everything else seem so small.

It makes the desire for approval from others seem minuscule.  Because my identity is rooted in You.

It makes me want to love others better and offer more grace.  Because that it was you have shown us over and over through your life and ministry.

It makes me want you over the earthly things of this world like money, status, and social media comments.   Because the blood you shed for me is worth more than all of it combined. 

My Jesus, I can never repay you for what you did for me, for all of us.  But I can pledge my allegiance to you.  I can give my all to you by spreading the truth of the sacrifice that you gave. I can only utter these words over and over again.  

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you for taking my place.
Thank you for bearing my sin.
Thank you for rising again.
Thank you for being The Light among the darkness.
Thank you for being mercy and grace lived out.
Thank you for freedom.
Thank you for a personal relationship.
Thank you for your sacrifice. 
Thank you for your love.

You are The Light to the darkness. The Victor over the enemy. The Risen One. The Chosen One.  The King of Kings.  You defeated death on that wooden cross and then rose again.  (John 20).  It is an honor to be Yours. 

I love you Jesus, and because of what you did, I will spend eternity praising Your Precious Name.  

O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead!

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Jesus Paid it All 

You can read about the death of Jesus and His crucifixion in The Gospels below:

Matthew 27    Mark 15     Luke 23    John 19

Let's Stop Playing it Safe

March 30, 2017

For most of my life I’ve played it pretty safe.  I’m usually the girl on the sidelines watching others make brave, bold moves.  You see, I’m not a natural risk-taker.  I’m a risk-weigher, if there is such a thing.  In every situation I weigh the risks and possible outcomes for each decision.  Sounds exciting right?  Yeah, not so much

I’ve watched friends journey to the other side of the world as missionaries to share Jesus with those who don’t know Him.  I’ve watched women be unafraid to pursue their God-given callings.  I’ve seen friends write books and launch new ministries and love on people that others pass by on a daily basis. Through all of it I find myself wishing I could be as brave as they are.

Seeing all of this inspires a bravery I desire, but I’m not sure I have in me.  But I desperately want it.  I want to bravely love Him.  I want to say yes when He calls me to the scary waters.  I want to radiate freedom because that’s what He’s given me through His Son.  I want to walk in His Truth so the enemy has no claim over me, because he has already been defeated. I long to be brave and risk it all for God like others seem to do, but something about full surrender to Him just makes it all too scary.

Over the last year I’ve been pursuing a deeper heart change.  The more I get closer to God, the more I realize that I’ve been playing it safe for too long.  Safe with opportunities.  Safe with relationships and really loving others.  Safe with Him. 

Frankly, I want to stop playing it so safe.  I want to push the boundaries and feel my knees knocking in the way they do when you know something is scary but also worthwhile.  I want to stop being so afraid that I will take a misstep, because I know, like we all do, that sometimes missteps are necessary to get to the more honest place with Him and the bigger calling inside of us. 

I’ve had to step back and ask myself a really hard question. Do I really want God?  I know that I need God.  It’s not a question of need.  It’s a question of want and desire. 

Do I really want God?  Do I want Him enough to be called out of my comfort zone? To go outside of the church walls and love on broken people? 

Am I willing to give up things for Him?  Things that make me happy, things that make my life easier? 

Am I willing to surrender fully to Him?  To His will?  To His calling on my life?  To release the people that I hold the closet to my heart?

Do I really want God enough to follow Him into places I would not normally go? 

Am I living a life that wants God?  Do I want Him over comfort? Over the approval of others?  Over material things and worldly success?

The honest answer to that is no.  I’m not so sure I’ve been wanting Him badly enough to feel uncomfortable.  I don’t think I’ve been desiring Him enough to strap on my boots and really do scary Kingdom work for Him.  To love people that are different than me.  To trust Him in a fearless way.   I think I’ve been living a very comfortable Christian life.  I obey God as much as I want to, but I don’t ever fully surrender myself to Him. 

I recently immersed myself in Acts 28:30-31. 

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.  He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

Those last few words about Paul have not left me since I read them.  With all boldness and without hindrance.  Paul taught about Jesus with boldness and proclamation.  He didn’t care what others thought about him. He didn’t care about his comfort or likeability. He cared most about God.  I could take a note or two from this. 

Really what I admire most about Paul is his brazenness for the Gospel.  He didn’t hold back when it came to church conduct or how we should treat one another as believers.  And he most certainly never held back from proclaiming what Jesus had done for him once his life had been changed by Him.

Moment of truth?  I know what it is that holds me back from being more like Paul.  The truth is I’m more afraid of how God will use me if I’m truly set free than if I were too stay comfortable.

I say I want this unhindered life, but I don’t really want to work for it.  I don’t really want to walk it out in faith.  Because what if living a life unhindered and desiring Him above anything else meant giving up a job I love, or relationships, leaving church roles, or moving?

What if all that seems scary because the life God calls us to live as His children is one of complete and utter trust and surrender to Him, and that is something that deep down, we lack. We doubt if God will really come through on His end so we hold tight to the things we need most to let go of.  Relationships. Dreams. Jobs. Our marriages and children.

And we tell ourselves that we’re just being protective. We want God to use us, but not enough to feel uncomfortable or sad or scared.  We want Him to use us just enough to feel like we’re doing our part, but we don’t ever let Him really do His.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live with a Plan B.  I want to know that at the end of my days, I’ve given Him everything I could possibly give Him.  I want to know I ran the race with every ounce of courage and determination that I could.  (Hebrews 12:1)  And yes, that will mean giving up things for Him and surrendering it all and yes, that scares me. 

But I don’t want to do it safe.  I don’t want to hinder myself when it comes to God.

And I get the feeling that deep down, you don’t want to do it safe either.  So why don’t we both just go for it?  You jump, I jump.  If we fall, we fall.  But we won’t fail.  The only way we fail is to keep playing it safe, keep daydreaming of a life unhindered but never getting up our nerve to say “Yes God, use me.”

God gives us free will to choose and ultimately the choice is ours friend. Do we want safe?  Do we want comfortable?  Or do we want God?

I confess, I used to judge the rich young ruler in Matthew 19.  I used to read his story and get so frustrated with him. I would sit there and think my gosh man, Jesus is right in front of you!  How could you not follow Him?  Why couldn’t you just leave it all behind?  Don’t you see the personal invitation you’re getting?

I used to judge him until one day I realized that I was just like him.  Afraid to give it all up and terrified to have to be uncomfortable for Jesus. Scared that He’ll ask me to do something that defies all logic.  Fearful of what others may think. Hesitant to think of what a life lived fully for Him really looks like.

Because it doesn’t look like comfortability friends.  It doesn’t look like logic or approval from others. It means we don’t always know what’s next.  We don’t have the control we often crave. It looks like a life of being unsettled in all the very best ways because when He moves, He moves in mighty ways.

Jesus extended a personal invitation to the young ruler.  His command was simple. In verse 21 He says,

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

“Come, follow me.”  I have the same personal invitation as the rich young ruler.  You do too friend. 

He can’t change his decision now but we can change ours.  We can say yes to the invitation of following Him, no matter the cost and change our course for eternity. The rich young ruler played it safe.  He didn’t want to give up his wealth (vs.22) or his comfort.  He didn’t want to give up the life he was living.  And man, did he miss out.

I don’t want us to miss the same invitation friends.  Let’s stop playing it so safe and let’s start being brave enough to let Him have every last ounce of us.  Let’s get off the sidelines of our faith and want God more than we ever have before.

What do you say?

An Open Invitation to Release

March 13, 2017

I sit with my head cupped in my hands on the back row of the balcony overlooking the seats below.  My eyes scan the crowd of women with their hands lifted high in praise and hope.  Some of them are desperate to know you.  Some of them are struggling to hear your voice, to feel you.  But you are there with them. 

Some women lend their arms as encouragement as they physically pour themselves over the others.  These women know you well.  They have seen your glory.  They have seen your love drip down from the cross onto them and they know the importance of this moment.  They encourage the others to embrace your love.

This is the moment for many, when they will finally know you.  When they will acknowledge that all of them needs every bit of you.  And I’m supposed to have my head bowed and my eyes closed.  Because this moment, it’s so very intimate and personal. 

And yet I watch. I cannot tear my eyes away.

I watch them unhinge their chains.  I watch them cry out in release.  I watch them accept their new identity.  They are Yours. They are made new.

The speaker continues the invitation by inviting those of us who already know you to release the things that hold us back from wanting you more.  I try to hear your voice over the piano that’s playing softly, yet the sound magnifies on the strings of my heart.  She invites us again to let go.  To release.  To give the thing over that we hold so closely.  The thing we put above you.

I know what the thing is.  You know it well too.  Women all around me are releasing their chains to you, and yet I sit frozen.  I sit chained to my seat, chained to my sin.  Chained to my past.  Chained to the things I know keep me from chasing you harder.

I do not feel you and yet I know you are there.  I cannot hear you but I feel you press in on my heart.  I think I feel you telling me to wait.  That this isn’t the place you want to meet me at.  You want me to let the thing go, but it’s not the time. And so I don’t.  I cling to it tightly because I know that soon you will ask me to do the hard thing and let you have it. 

And so for these last few moments I hold onto it.  I hide it in my heart.  I know it is coming.  I know that soon you will call me to the scary waters, and it’s not a place I want to go willingly.

Later I am at home.  It is quiet.  It is peaceful.  There are no fancy stage lights and no decorations.  Just you. 

I check on the girls one last time before grabbing my bible and meeting with you on the couch.  At first I feel silly.  I don’t know where to start and I think I have heard you wrong.  I open up my bible to the psalms because that’s where I always go if I don’t know where to go.  The scripture I read doesn’t make sense to me at first.  It is all about David’s sin and confession and the pledge for you to take it away from him. 

He has slept with Bathsheba.  He has killed Uriah.  He is in a bad desperate place.  And I wonder what I’m supposed to do with this.  This isn’t right I think.  This was nothing like the moment at the conference earlier. 

But you keep at me.  You tell me that I’m missing it.  To dig deeper. 

And so I do.  I don’t know what I’m doing or what you’re trying to tell me but I know it’s something.  Something big.

I start talking to you out loud.  I hardly ever do this.  I try to be quiet because I don’t want to wake the girls up.  But the pain of the thing I can’t seem to escape and your quiet mercy has tears pouring down my face and me lifting up your name in praise. 

I know that it’s the time.  Here is where you wanted to meet me.  In the quiet.  In the dark place.  In the honest place.  No music.  No pressure.  No one else but you and me.

And you direct me to a scripture that absolutely blows my mind.  I have read it many times before but tonight I notice something different.  Something brand new.  I feel you there.  Revealing to me that it’s time to start trusting you more.  Time to start living the life you’ve called me to live. 

Suddenly I put two and two together.  You show me through your word that I cannot keep pushing past you and going before you.  You reveal to me that I need to let go of the thing in order for you to heal me and in return help heal others. 

I understand.  My breath can hardly catch up with the tears as I confess to you that I have no idea what I’m doing.  I want this thing, this chain taken from me, so I can move forward and do the scary kingdom stuff with you. 

I speak life to the thing you are showing me and I ask if I’m right.  Is this what you’re telling me?  Is this the healing that needs to happen first?  I don’t hear verbal confirmation.  I hear the silence and the distant buzzing of the baby monitor. 

But I am confident I have heard you correctly.  That now, after the acknowledgement comes the hard work, the healing work.  And you show me that this is how you do things.  You take ordinary people and reveal the hard places in our hearts, the things that keep us from you, that hold us back from a life unhindered in you and you make them beautiful. 

This is scary.  This is exciting.  I feel relief.  I feel like you’ve let me in on a secret.  But it’s not a secret. It is your love and how you reveal yourself to us time after time.  I immerse myself in what you have revealed to me.  I ask you to confirm it.  So I am sure.  I tell you that if this is not from you to close the door.  Don’t let me think about it anymore. 

But if it is from you, if this is really the answer to what I’ve been asking you for, I ask you to not let me shake it.  I tell you not to let up on me about it.  I hear no audible voice or strong confirmation.  I only feel your presence telling me that you will hold up your end.  You will let me know.  And for the first time in a long time, I feel absolute peace.  I feel complete trust in you. 

I close my bible and go to wash my tear-stained cheeks.  I take a deep breath.  Breathing in every last ounce of you in this moment.  God you are goodYou are so very good.  I want more of these of these honest, raw moments.  The invitation is open.  It is mine.  I am ready. 

Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs