Sunday, July 31, 2011


I'm a quitter.
Yesterday I attended a conference in Nashville that ended up being some of the best, most insightful, God-honoring, hilarious 8 hours I've spent: The Quitter Conference. Jon Acuff (of the hilarious "Stuff Christians Like" fame) wrote "Quitter" -- his book about having 8 jobs in 8 years and being the perpetual quitter because of the tension between what he was doing, and what he was hungry to do with the gifts and talents God had given him.
But in the sea of all that quitting, he began to glean some insight. He realized that when you're waiting to do what you really, really feel called to do, you don't have to see your current circumstances as prisons from which to escape. They can be platforms from which to jump. And you can--and should--hustle while you're waiting. He talked about how to pursue a calling while honoring God, your spouse, your family, even your current employer.

One of his excellent insights--and one worth sharing--is the idea that "discovering" what you really want to do isn't so much an act of discovery, like some a-ha/lightbulb/walking-down-the-street-and-I-suddenly-realize-I-was-meant-to-be-a-beekeeper moment, but rather an act of recovery. So rather than the overwhelming "What do I want to do with my life?" question, we can start to ask, "What have I done that I've loved?"

I am passionate about being a wife and mom and communicator of truth. My heart longs to be the wife Justin deserves, and the mom who makes much of Jesus in such a way that it's real for my kids. And if being a wife and mom was all there was to my life, I know I would never look back and say, "That's all there was to my life?" This part alone is so precious, so real, and it matters so much. I'm passionate too about speaking truth in a way that brings clarity and stickiness to the truth of God's word. Getting to do so makes me feel like I am really using all God has given me, kind of like someone who had spent their life in a wheelchair dreaming to walk, and then one day getting to stand and take steps. It would feel like, for once, they were getting to use all of the parts God had given them. That is what I feel like when I write and speak. The amazing thing is that what I am doing right now IS connected to what I want to do long term. I am a tutor, and I use all my gifts to make information clear and memorable to students. What a blessing to have the awesome privilege of serving my tutoring students while practicing making it clear and making it stick for all God has in store for the future. Awesome! All I'm saying is that what you're doing right this moment probably does have tie-ins to your future dreams, even if you've never yet been able to make those connections. I love how our God is a tie-it-all-together God; There's peace in knowing that none of this waiting time is wasted time.

God has woven these longings and gifts into you and to me to use for His glory. It's about choosing to be a faithful steward of these things by using them, and giving them back to Him as an offering.

But it's more than just a "do what you love" thing. It's an obedience thing to use what God has given you to use! For a long time I've been compelled by the story of the talents in the gospels. Jesus told of a man who entrusted talents to three of his servants. When the master returned, two had used them and had returns on their investments. The third buried his talent. And his master did not take that lightly.

This parable compels me to write teachings before I'm booked to speak. It compels me to write blog posts even when I wonder if it matters. It compels me to pray for favor and opportunities, and for the diligence to pray and prepare in the meantime. It's what I can do now. I can't speak before I'm asked--but I can get ready. And I really feel called to get ready.

Why would we not, and how dare we not intentionally consider how God has so wonderfully and purposefully made us? Imagine Him fashioning and forming you in your mother's womb with great intentionality and purpose. He did so that you might use those things to point to Him. If you love photography, why not use that talent? If you love writing, why not write in response to the gift He's given you to do so? If He has gifted you to teach, why not teach?

Consider your life as it is right now. Are you doing what makes you feel like you're getting to use all of you? If your current job situation is not in line with the gifts and passions God has given you, by no means should you turn in your 2-week notice tomorrow. But you should--today--consider making individual actions and taking individual steps to prepare you for when God calls you out. Our days are numbered. Why not live them using our talents?

I'm a quitter, too--a quitter of an ordinary life void of the use of my God-given passions and talents. And I think this sign I saw in the snack room yesterday really summed up why:
So what would YOU do? If the bills didn't have to get paid (and yes, they do have to get paid), what would you want to do? Would you still do what you're currently doing?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Yesterday I had 7 root canals.

Oh, wait--no. It just felt like I had 7 root canals. Because apparently a deep tooth cleaning following a 10-year hiatus from the dentist also feels as though you're delivering a baby, sans epidural, out of each one of your tooth sockets.

On the way home I stopped by Chick-fil-A to order the one thing I could eat--a "Sawberry Mipshape" (That's the only way I could say it after the gallon of Novocaine they injected into me). As I drove home, attempting to drink my "mipshape" through my half-numb lips, I couldn't help considering this one truth:

NEGLECT ACCUMULATES. And eventually having to deal with the accumulation is really painful.

There was no reason for me to have to go through the horrendous procedure I endured yesterday. Normal people who aren't ten-steps-beyond-terrified of the dentist usually go in every six months and get their teeth polished, collect their free toothbrush and floss, and are on their way.

Oh, but not me. I have severe dental phobia and decided to let things go for a solid decade. I went with the "Have someone scrape the ever-loving heck out of your teeth" plan. I took the "You'll need nine (yes, NINE!) shots of novocaine just to be able to survive this" route.

Why??? It didn't have to be this way.

But neglect accumulates.

Neglect your marriage for a day or a week? Probably no biggie. But neglect your marriage for any sort of a stretch of time, and you'll find yourself having terrible, tearful conversations and working tirelessly to rebuild trust and put the pieces back together.

Neglect your children for weeks and months, and you'll wonder a decade from now why they have no interest in really opening up to you.

Neglecting housework. Neglecting family relationships. Neglecting work responsibilities. Neglecting our health. Over time the neglect accumulates and it all eventually catches up, and the fall-out isn't easy to deal with.

Then there's neglecting your relationship with God. Neglecting His Word. You probably won't notice any trouble with this at first, but neglecting His will over time is to practically invite the painful consequences you'll face.

The price to be paid for neglect is painfully high. I will say it again--The price to be paid for neglect is painfully high!

What area of your life needs your attention--right now? Consider that one area. Pray over the part you've been neglecting. Maybe it will be painful to recover what has fallen through the cracks, to make that phone call, to spend that time that needs to be spent, to get up for that workout, or to make that appointment.

"You can't cram for a great marriage. You can't cram for a relationship with your kids," Andy Stanley said. It's true. There are certain things that simply have to be maintained a little bit over time. If I had spent every moment of the day leading up to my appointment incessantly brushing and flossing to try to compensate for not going to the dentist for the last 10 years, it wouldn't have helped. I had let things go for far too long.

Why do we live as though we can neglect the critical areas of our lives--and then cram to make it all up?

Father, You want us to be diligent and attentive, not lazy and neglectful, with what You've entrusted to us. And it's for a reason: The fallout is too great, and the price is too high. And You want to keep us from having to deal with the consequences that come with neglect! Let Your Holy Spirit speak to us, right now, about the areas we're neglecting. Show us, day in and day out, what it looks like to deal with what we've neglected, and to begin being busy about the things that really matter. Amen.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Last week I attempted to roast a whole chicken for the first time ever. I'm a decent cook, but somehow the ability (or courage) to cook an entire chicken has always eluded me.

So I made a lemon-thyme chicken and hoped for the best. The oven timer beeped, and I couldn't wait to see how it had turned out. I pulled a delicious-smelling, beautifully golden chicken out of the oven. It looked great, but having zero whole-chicken experience, I knew I needed some expertise on this one. I asked Justin if it looked ready. He wiggled its legs and poked at it a bit and said, "Looks ready to me."

So we sat down to our dinner table, ready for a taste. But after a few slices into the bird, Justin furrowed his brow and said, "I think it needs a few more minutes in the oven." In Justin's defense, it really did look ready--in fact, I couldn't believe I had cooked a chicken that looked so downright Martha Stewart-y! But I hoisted the chicken back into the roasting pan and popped it back into the oven. It was a bit of a let-down, especially since we went through this scenario like three more times before we actually got to eat the thing, and by then we had filled up on broccoli salad and mashed potatoes!

As ready as the chicken appeared to be from an outside assessment, it wasn't really ready for us to enjoy. And I'd venture to say that some of the awesome, glorious, good things God has in store for us are still cooking right now.

Even David was anointed, consecrated, set apart, chosen by God to be King--and then things kind of came to a halt. At least from a circumstantial standpoint, the way it all went down seemed kind of--well, anticlimactic!

The LORD revealed to Samuel that David would one day be King, so Samuel anointed David with oil, and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. No small things! Can you imagine?

Aaaand then right after that, he was right back to tending sheep, working as an armor-bearer, playing harp for Saul, and delivering lunch to his brothers. Riveting stuff--especially after the high of being chosen and anointed to reign as King.

Yes, he was still the anointed one, set apart for God's purposes. But it wasn't yet time for the big-guns stuff of taking down Goliath or wearing a King's crown. He was just hanging with the sheep, playing the harp, and running errands. The ordinary stuff of his life.

You'd think that he would've been ready at the moment he was anointed. You'd assume it would be full-steam ahead from the moment they poured that oil over him.

But as ready as things may have looked at that anointing ceremony, it wasn't time quite yet for God's call on David's life to be on display. But God was busy displaying HIS power to David. As a shepherd, David had to defend his sheep (and himself!) against lions and bears, and He saw God as His deliverer in every one of those instances.

And then when Goliath finally did enter the picture--even more waiting!--the giant showed up for forty days, taunting and tormenting the Israelites, before the big David vs. Goliath event went down.

And when it finally did, David was READY. God had readied David. And it was the God he had come to know as his Deliverer while doing the menial task of tending sheep whom David trusted when he needed a Deliverer once again:

"The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine, Goliath," David proclaimed (1 Samuel 17:37).

In this life we go from glory to glory and strength to strength, and it can be a bit of a letdown to get a taste of glory and then have to return to the unspectacular stuff of life while we wait for the next glory, the next strength. During these in-between, pre-ready seasons some of us are in right now, I believe God is currently revealing to us all we need to know about Him. And I also believe that what we come to know of Him in these days of waiting are the very things we will need to know about Him for our victory when we really are ready. We will be able to refer back to what He made known to us about Himself in these watching-sheep, delivering-lunches, uneventful days, and KNOW who is with us when it's time to go forward.

The things God has us up to now may seem mundane, even disconnected from what we believe to be the call on our lives. But isn't it interesting that a man who held the unimpressive job of shepherding a flock would one day shepherd the hearts of people when he reigned as King?

Maybe you think you're ready. Maybe you're getting close--maybe not. But we can trust God to show us who He is along the road to readiness.


Recently my friend Jill thought it would be interesting to send out one verse a week to a handful of women, and ask them to write what God had communicated to them through that verse throughout the week. It's been really cool to see how our personal-relationship God communicates His living word in both similar and unique ways to His children!

Check it out at Communication is Key For Us --


Thursday, July 21, 2011


A few years ago I was driving through Atlanta, singing along to this song that has always made me think of my husband:

Something brought you to my mind today

I thought about the funny ways you make me laugh

and yet I feel like it's okay to cry with you

There's something about just being with you

that when I leave I feel like I've been near God

and that's the way it oughtta be

You've been more than a friend to me,

you've fought off my enemies

and you have spoken truth over my life

and you'll never know what it means to me
just to know you've been on your knees for me

Oh, you've blessed my life more than you'll ever know.*

And as I drove along I realized I had lifted my hand up like I sometimes do when I am caught up in worship. I hadn't realized what I was doing, but before I knew it, my hand was lifted up. "Well, that's odd," I thought as I dropped my hand down and kept driving.

But the more I thought about it, the more a connection between marriage and worship isn't really too far a stretch. Because a marriage living out as God intended really is a sacrifice of worship to our God. And it's not only that, but also a picture to a watching world of the love between Christ and the church.

LORD, thank You for these ten years as Justin's wife. You know where I've done well as a wife and You know where I've fallen short. You know how you've used Justin to buff out rough edges, to speak truth, and to show me love and grace as You've done. When I think of what I thought I'd have for my life, it makes me shudder. I'm grateful that what I thought I wanted wasn't all there was. Instead, what You held in store has far surpassed my grandest hopes and dreams, even when I thought I was dreaming big. Please bless Justin with great measure for the love he has shown me.

Mr. and Mrs. Justin Nelson * July 21, 2001

*"More Than You'll Ever Know" (Watermark)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


What would you do if you didn't know you were supposed to be afraid?

My little girl is a daredevil. She's this tiny, fearless, jump-in-with-both-feet, do-crazy-stunts-without-batting-an-eyelash kind of girl. And she's always been this way! She wasn't even a year old when she started climbing this horse and not just riding, but standing up on the back of the horse like she was riding in the Kentucky Derby! She'd bounce along enthusiastically as though gravity somehow didn't apply to her.
Meanwhile, we were terrified! We kept taking her down off the horse, until about 20 times later we finally realized she was fine. I mean, really fine. She had this super-tenacious hold on the horse and just bounced away, grinning from ear to ear. Sure, we put pillows on the floor all around the horse, but not one time did she fall. She didn't even waver, that I ever saw--and believe me, I watched her like a hawk.

I think maybe this tendency to be totally unwavering was there because she was not afraid. Not at all. I don't even think she realized she should be! It's like she never got the "fear" memo. And without fear on the table, she rode with joy and abandon. It was amazing to see.

For us as followers of Jesus Christ, it goes beyond not realizing you should be afraid, like a tiny 11-month old should be when they're riding a horse standing up.

We are commanded not to fear.

When we live to pursue the Kingdom of God, we are not supposed to be afraid, and are in fact commanded not to be. As we invest and build and speak and minister to others and wait upon Him, we are not to have a spirit of timidity, but the one of boldness we've been given in His name. And when we really get onboard with this idea, that's when we can ride without the fear of falling.

It's a family peacefully waiting for the provision of a job.

It's a couple who leaves their comfort zone to go minister to people half a world away.

It's writing the tithe check when money is already tight.

When we're called to do the things of God, we are enabled--by God--to do the things of God.

So pretend you never got the "fear" memo; It's not from God, anyway. Act like gravity doesn't apply to you. Ride with abandon.

So rather than asking what you would do if you didn't know you were supposed to be afraid...

What will you do since you know you are not supposed to be afraid?

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


A few weeks ago I went to the dentist for a cleaning. For the first time in--Well, let's just say I've missed the last, oh, twenty cleanings. You do the math.

My saving grace with my teeth is that I am very, very meticulous about brushing and flossing (so as not to HAVE TO go to the dentist, of course)! But I knew that with all my efforts, it was time to go have a professional take a look.

I'll admit, I was more terrified to go for a dental cleaning than I was to give birth. Seriously! Sure, I was worried about pain and the sound of the drill and being told every tooth would need a root canal.

But the number one reason I was scared to go back was that I was sure I would be chastised and judged for being away so long.

Oh, I had my reasons for not going--no dental insurance for part of the time, and a history of being yelled at by the hygienist as a child. Good times. So either I couldn't go, or I had legitimate reasons for not wanting to go. It just got to the point that staying away somehow felt easier than returning.

And I was sure they'd make me feel rejected. They'd see me as a patient, of course, but really, why wouldn't they--Surely after so many years away I was sure I had, as they call it, "Lottery Mouth." But they'd judge me, I was certain. They'd smile their (shiny white perfectly veneered) smiles at me but inside would wonder how on earth I could stay away so long.

I felt like the Prodigal Patient.

I thought back to the son Jesus described to His disciples who had asked his own father for his portion of the inheritance, only to go off, live a wild life, and fritter it all away until he was penniless. To get by, he fed pigs and found himself eating out of the feeding trough because he was so famished. He wanted to return home, but surely questioned how warm the reception would be for someone like himself. Finally, he headed home, fully prepared to beg his father for a servant's job in the home. But while he was still a long way off, his father (who had been watching for him) saw him and went running. Running. He plowed into his boy with the warmest embrace. He brought him home, called for a celebration feast with the best meat and a ring for the son who had willingly left him. Such celebration for the one who was long gone, but had finally come home.

When I arrived at the dentist's office a few weeks ago, I was met with warmth and understanding. Nobody seemed to condemn me for being away so long. The hygienist just said, "We're just glad you're here today."

Grace, grace, grace. I had to smile.

Yes, I have a few cavities. But the report wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be (maybe my floss addiction might not be a bad thing). There's some work to be done. But I was shown grace.

How desperately we need grace. We willingly leave and do our own thing, and mess up in epic ways. We knowingly chase a life we were never meant to have and refuse the things that will introduce us to the Living God. We want what we want from Him, but we don't want Him.

But then one day, we find ourselves broken, penniless, and shoveling pig slop into our mouths. We realize we could have so much more, if only as His servant. But He's watching, waiting for our return. He's got His running shoes on, ready to race out and meet us on the return trip home. He has a fattened-calf feast and a robe and a ring in which He longs to adorn us.

"My child has returned!" Cheers and celebration all around. No condemnation. Just rejoicing over our return.

Grace, grace, grace.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Life is just high-maintenance.

Just as you fold the last piece of laundry and tuck it into a drawer, somewhere else in the house another piece of dirty laundry is being dropped into a hamper.

Moments after scrubbing the toilet to a sanitized, glistening shine, your young son with "questionable aim" has to use the bathroom. Back to Square One.

The just-emptied dishwasher quickly gathers many a newly-dirtied dish.

Cars need oil changes, houses need fresh coats of paint, lightbulbs and batteries need to be changed.

The maintenance is never done, and won't be until we breathe our last.

Even the second law of thermodynamics says that things are constantly moving from a state of order to a state of disorder (That's a little shout-out to my science teacher husband, and quite possibly the most academic statement I've ever used on this blog!!).

And it's the case in our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It takes zero effort to drift away from Him. He doesn't move away from us, but when we forego what it takes to maintain an intimate relationship with Him, we find ourselves far from where we want to be.

It takes zero maintenance to realize we haven't prayed in a week. Or two.

It requires no effort on your part to go a month without opening your Bible.

It takes nothing to end up thinking, speaking, deciding, acting and reacting like this world does.

But is that what we really want?

We were created for an intimate, life-altering relationship with the One who made us. But it takes maintenance.

Praying. Reading the Word. Serving as He did. Being in fellowship with other followers.

And while it takes investments of love, sacrifices of time, laying down our lives, and taking up our cross daily (read: a lot of work!), we were made for the abundant life that results from the maintenance of our relationship with Jesus.

There will be a day when we breathe our last and the laundry and errands and dishwashing and obligations will all end.

But this relationship with our God will go on and on. For we were also made for the eternal life that results from a relationship with Jesus.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


What makes you cry?

Weddings and funerals? Lifetime Original Movies? Chopped onions?

Yesterday I cried over something that has never moved me to tears before.

I'd had a block of time to myself (Thank you, Sweet Husband!) and had finished the last words in the book of Genesis. I closed my Bible and just kind of sat there and shook my head in awe, reverence, and just plain love of the words I'd just read.

I began to pray to thank God for His Word. And before I knew it, I had tears rolling down my face as I expressed my deep sadness over what seems to be a prevailing problem:

Many, many, many Christians just don't seem to see a need to consistently take in the Word of God.

Oh, they'll receive it in spoon-fed form from their pastors on Sunday morning. They're okay with a few verses sprinkled into a book they're reading. Maybe they're even prayer warriors. But as for spending time reading the Bible? " Meh."

I don't say this from any sort of a high-horse--Believe me. Because not so long ago, I was the president of the "I'm-Just-Kind-of-'Meh'-About-the-Bible" club. I loved God and prayed consistently and felt convicted about not reading His Word, but I had come to the conclusion that it was just a dry read.

When I was single, I read my Bible. A lot. While my friends were getting married and starting their families, I had the Word of God. I have notes in the margins dating back to '96. But then eventually I got married, got busy, and somehow got the impression that reading God's Word was something I really should do, but no longer wanted to. Looking back, I'm grieved at opportunities lost and truths overlooked. I don't live under condemnation for it, but I have to acknowledge I did miss out. And I bet others around me missed out because I wasn't truly seeking the LORD. Our actions (and inactions) rarely affect just us. And while I don't want to dwell in the past, I want to glance back to decide what needs to be different going forward.

After years of hit-and-miss, extremely sporadic Bible reading, I got into a Bible study 3 years ago and was reminded of what I'd known to be true in the past:

The Bible is real! And exciting! And convicting! And moving! And relevant! And awe-inspiring! It brings guidance and gives direction and breeds hope and turns our feet from traps and tells us how to relate to others. It is GOD-BREATHED. Really! How can we think that the very breath of God is boring?

But the number of unread Bibles in Christian homes just seems to be epidemic. I mean epidemic! And the thought of this very thing reduced me to tears yesterday. I felt--and feel--absolutely broken about it.

It's not that I look with condemnation on anyone whose Bible is collecting dust. First of all, been there myself. Second of all, I am nobody's judge. But I am deeply concerned about what we as believers are missing out on and who's missing out as a result of all we're missing. What lives are not being impacted? What truths aren't being spoken--and what lies are? What hope isn't being nurtured and what pits are people falling into? What directions are being missed, and what grace is going unrecognized? It's hard enough to live in excellence when we are walking in the instruction of God--how can we expect to live with any sort of excellence apart from it?

I have days that come and go when I spend zero time in Scripture. And I have to come back at myself with one question: Why not? How did a full 24 hours go by without me making that a priority? And what did I decide was more worthy of my attention in those 24 hours?

Maybe we're getting by. But I am terrified we're missing out.

Holy God, I am literally crying out for a stirring in our hearts to love Your Word. We talk at You and tell You what we need and never crack open the book through which You have already answered. We make foolish decisions that Your Word clearly addresses, and then wonder why You didn't try to stop us. We live our lives in pits when Your Word proclaims freedom and release. Husbands aren't looking to see how they're supposed to lead, and wives aren't seeking Your ways as they relate to their husbands and children. We say we want You but then refuse what You've said! Please bring a revival in our hearts for Your Word. Draw us to it. Let it so satisfy us that we can't go without it.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Ever thought maybe--just maybe--God got it wrong?

"Of course not. His way is perfect!" Well, sure it is. And thank you for that Sunday-School-Answer reply.

But are you sure about that? How about this then:

Have you ever attempted to manipulate His hands to try and remedy what you thought just might be a mistake?

You're not alone.

Jacob was dying and asked his son Joseph to bring his grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim to him so that he could speak a blessing over each of them. Manasseh was the firstborn, so Jacob should have put his right hand on him and given him the greater of the blessings.

But he didn't.

Instead, he CROSSED HIS HANDS and put his right hand on Ephraim, the younger son, and administered the greater of the blessings to--well, in Joseph's mind--the wrong son.

"When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim's head, he was displeased; so he took hold of his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. Joseph said to him, 'No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.'

But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know" (Genesis 48:17-19). Jacob went on to say that Manasseh would be great, but Ephraim would be greater.

If I'm honest, I know there are times in my life when I thought the Creator of the universe needed my intervention, almost as if He had acted inadvertently and I was swooping in to fix the situation.

I mean, clearly that job was meant to be MINE, right God? Did You drop the ball on this one? What gives?

Oops, I don't think You got the memo that we were reeeeally hoping to be pregnant by now, LORD. Now we're going to have to read every blog post about increasing our chances of conceiving because You messed up here.

Didn't You plant this dream in my heart, God? Well, You kind of seem to be dragging Your feet in bringing in about, so now I'm gonna make it happen, Cap'n."

We grab hold of the hands that fashioned us and formed the heavens and try to manipulate them. We assume He's just messing up the blessing.

But can't you just hear the words "I know, my child. I know"? They are the reassurance of the One who is all-knowing and all-seeing. If His hands rest somewhere to give a blessing, it's because He knows. If His hands are seemingly too still, it's because He knows. There are no errors in His ways, no messing up the blessing.

He knows.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I cannot sleep with a fly in the room. Can't do it.

So sometimes (read: last night) I run around my bedroom at 11pm with a fly swatter, trying to rid the room of all those pesky buzzing things so that I can rest. My husband, bless his heart, just doesn't get it. He'll put the pillow over his head and say, "Just open the bedroom door and let it fly out."

Oh, no. Then it'll just buzz around in some other room of the house and resurface to bug me later. Nope, I don't want to relocate the fly. I want that thing gone. And I'm getting rid of it.

1 Peter 2, Ephesians 4, and James 1 all speak to things of which we are to RID OURSELVES:

moral filth

I think sometimes we can try to justify, relocate, or repress these things, but that doesn't mean they're gone. They're just buzzing around elsewhere, waiting for a chance to resurface.

Pretending we're not all that upset when we've got a pot of anger simmering inside is to deal with a boil-over later.
Acting like we're happy for so-and-so who got the thing or the opportunity we wanted doesn't mean we've rid ourselves of envy.
Sharing hurtful words about others in the form of "prayer requests" doesn't mean we've eliminated slander from our lives.
Telling half-truths or omitting truth doesn't mean we've purged ourselves of deceit.
Writing a blog post about ridding ourselves of these things and then not living it myself? Well, that's just a bunch of hypocrisy buzzing around.

Sure, anybody can figure out a way to a temporary fix. But I doubt there will be any kind of real rest in you or in me until we RID OURSELVES of them.

Was there something on that list with which you are currently struggling? Bitterness? A form of moral filth? Picture that very thing as a fly that is buzzing around your head, keeping your soul from rest. Consider what things--what practical, applicable, day-to-day things--need to happen to make that thing get gone.

Maybe praying for patience and understanding with so-and-so is how you'll rid yourself of anger today.
Maybe skipping that movie is how you'll keep moral filth from your mind today.
Maybe praying Psalm 141:3 ("Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; Keep watch over the door of my lips") is the practical thing you'll do to rid yourself of slander today.

Whatever it is, don't just shoo it out of the room to deal with later. In His name, do whatever needs to be done--today--to get that thing gone!

Rid yourself. You won't be able to rest until you do.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


We took the training wheels off my son's bike recently, and he was loving being able to ride on his own. But a few days after his triumphant, training-wheels-free first ride, I found him riding around the driveway on his old tricycle. I told him I'd get out his big bike for him, but he declined. "This one is just easier for me."

Well, sure it is. But it's not exactly fitting for a 5-year old to be scooting around on a tricycle when he is more than able to zoom around on his big bike.

Oh, riding his big boy bike will mean falls and scrapes now and then. But it will mean freedom, too.

How we love our safety and comfort and ease, don't we? We love hearing stories of others living their lives with abandon, fully surrendered to the twists-and-turns path of the call of God. We see them zipping around with the wind in their hair while we dare not pick up enough speed for things to get precarious in our own lives.

And we really miss out.

Some of us need to get off our tricycles. Sure, it's safer. Yes, it's easier. And to get on the big bike may mean bumps and bruises that we wouldn't get riding on the tricycle. But to live in abandon to the call of God is to experience unmatched exhilaration.

Please, please take 3 minutes to watch this funny but powerful clip by Francis Chan. I see myself in this a little bit. You'll laugh, but you'll probably see yourself in this, too.
* Fast forward to 55 seconds in and start watching from that point.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Monday was just a very different kind of 4th of July. This time around I smiled at hearing words like "liberty" and "freedom" -- words that have really kind of been lost on me in the past.

Yes, I'm very thankful to live in a free country, and I know not everyone has it the way I have it. And I have been forgiven of my sin, but I don't know that I've ever been especially mindful of my desperate need to be freed, until recently. And I think that perhaps until you've been helplessly trapped and then set free, maybe you don't really get it.

I know I didn't, anyway.

I was trying to explain to my kids what it means to be set free--and that it suggests that you've been un-free at some point. I said, "It would be like if someone locked you in that bathroom (our tiny powder room) and it was dark, and you were trapped and you couldn't get out on your own, no matter how hard you tried--and then finally after 3 days, someone finally unlocked the door and let you out. How would you feel?"

You'd feel free. FINALLY FREE. And you'd have a new love for words like "liberty" and "freedom."

You'd begin devouring and reciting aloud the words of Scripture that talk about being in a slimy pit, and being lifted out by gracious and able hands.

You'd stand in your living room crying out to God in worship with your hands literally raised up, calling out for rescue from your pit, and being totally in awe when you were aware that He was answering your cry for help.

You'd jump to attention at the slightest threat of being thrown back into that jail cell of a pit again, and begin declaring the Word of God about how He has set your feet on a rock and given you a firm place to stand.

You'd smile at the sound of that song on the radio that speaks to being set free, because you've lived it.

You'd start singing that new song He put in your mouth, the hymn of praise to our God.

And you would want to shout *LIBERTY!* from the rooftops. You'd want it for others. You'd be desperate to declare *FREEDOM!* for captives once you'd tasted of it yourself.

I have read through many of these next Scripture passages many times, but they have only recently come to be stitched into my heart--and they're my passion now. My heart has been tendered through terrible brokenness to those in captivity, because I've walked a mile in those shoes, and now I know there is nothing like being set free. Fetters falling off, chains clanging as they fall to the ground, prison doors swinging wide open.

Beautiful freedom. Sweet liberty.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives,

and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Isaiah 61:1

I waited patiently for the LORD;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire.

He set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth--

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear the LORD

and put their trust in Him.

Psalm 40:1-3

I will exalt You, O Lord,

for You lifted me out of the depths

and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

O Lord, my God, I called to You for help

and You healed me.

Psalm 30:1-2

Saturday, July 2, 2011


So....I've started running.

I'll pause for a moment while y'all either die of laughter or fall out of your chair in disbelief, for those who know me well.

I'm building up to it, though. I've been doing an interval training program called C25K (um, dare I tell you that this stands for "From Couch to 5K") that involves walking for a few minutes, then running for a few minutes. There's even a phone app to alert me when it's time to run and when it's time to walk. I hear a little *beep* and my phone flashes a green light when it's time to go--time to run. And then a few minutes later, there's the *beep* and a blue light flashes to tell me I can stop running.

Most of the time I'm waiting anxiously for the blue light, just pushing myself harder until I hear the *beep* and see my signal that it's time to walk again and I can rest a bit. Love me some blue light!

And there are plenty of times when I've just settled into a nice, restful walk when--*beep*--that green light starts flashing, and I know it's time to go again. Darn you, green light!

But every now and then, I'm ready to run but it's not time to yet. It's mostly because there's a big downward slope in the road followed by a steep incline, and I want it to be time to run so that by the time I hit that upward part, it'll be time to walk again (You can see I'm really dedicated to this whole running thing when I find myself planning out the easiest way to get through it)!

But while I'm out there on my morning runs, just waiting on my blue lights and green lights, I keep thinking of how God led His people in the desert in a similar way. Nope, they weren't staring down at a Blackberry waiting for the next alert. Instead, they followed a cloud. The LORD led His people with a cloud.

Whenever the cloud lifted, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the LORD's command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD's order and did not set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the LORD's command they encamped, and at the LORD's command they set out.
Numbers 9:15-19, 22-23

I have to imagine that there were times when they had hardly finished setting up their tents when that cloud started to move ahead. Maybe they wished for a longer break in between their travels (I hear ya, Israelites). Maybe they'd been there long enough to have grown comfortable where they were.

But it says there were times the cloud was still for as long as a year. Now, I wasn't there, but I have to imagine that at some point God's people had to get a little antsy, a little "Alrighty, any time now," a little "Let's get this show on the road." But if that cloud wasn't moving, then neither were they.

As for me, I'm ready to run. I am. I am itching to go. This is a metaphor, of course, because I'm never actually all that ready to run in the literal sense. But I feel like there's an area in my life in which I am positioned at the starting line, just waiting for the starting pistol to fire. And I'm sitting here. And waiting. And that thing won't fire! The cloud won't move! No beep, no green light...

No go!

It's tough. Because I've had a taste of the "go," and it was sweet. After a long time of waiting, I got the GO. I ran. I breathed it all in. I gave what God gave me back to Him as an offering with all I knew to do. And then the cloud stopped.

And it's still stopped. I don't dare try to start going before the pistol fires, before the cloud moves, before the beep and the green light. As much as I feel like my heart is going to beat out of its chest if I don't get to go soon, I don't dare go where He doesn't lead.

And so I stay poised, watchful, ready for the "GO." Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you can see the cloud forging ahead and you're just not sure you're ready to follow it quite yet. I don't even pretend to have the answer to why you and I are staring at a moving cloud or a still one at this season in our lives, but His plans are perfect. His way is flawless. He is not slow in leading us, nor does he call us to set out unnecessarily. His timing is right.

And whether moving cloud or still cloud, He can be trusted.