The Last 24 Hours

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If you want to emulate Christ, you must know Christ. And so often, I think the American church has got it all wrong. I don’t think it is fair or right to point fingers and there are many Christians and churches who are doing it right. Ultimately, I think each of us must evaluate our own lives in light of the life of Christ. Are we seeking to live like He did? As I have blogged about quite a bit recently, the idea of hospitality and serving others seems to continue to be a theme God is pressing into my soul. I think it is because for so many years I have been so busy with so much, I have forgotten we are to be busy with a who, not a what. We are to be seeking Christ, not seeking tasks, projects, notches on a resume, or shiny awards.

The other day, one sentence in the book I was reading stopped me in my tracks. The author was talking about the last hours of Christ’s life and how He spent those last precious hours. He had the unique advantage of knowing He was going to die. We do not know when death will come. A study of the last hours of Christ’s life reveal what was important to Him and this is what caused me to stop. To evaluate. To think. To consider my own life in light of His.

The night before Christ was crucified, He broke bread with his closest friends. He didn’t travel to an exotic locale, He didn’t check one more thing off His bucket list, He didn’t make some grand spectacle out of his last hours. He simply shared a meal around the table with those He loved.  What a beautiful picture and humbling reminder this was for me. In light of the fact I have no clue how long my time on earth will be, how am I living out this principle? Am I spending my precious time with people? Am I inviting in those I love to eat around the table? Am I taking time for small moments? For ordinary events that I may never be able to write on a resume or put on an award application?

People were most important to Jesus. He spent time with them, He cared for their souls, and during His last moments before a brutal death, He fed them a meal, washed their feet, and comforted their souls.  This is the life we are called to friends. This is the good work.

But why oh why is it so hard? I will be the first to admit my schedule gets out of control. I have a toddler at home and a husband who works a lot so a clean house happens for about .5 hours a week. Some nights our “dinner” consists of sandwiches, leftovers, or eggs and toast because this momma is exhausted.  But in studying Jesus’ last hours, I realized I so often miss the point.  He didn’t expect perfection out of people. He met them in their brokenness, in their hurt, in their moments of need and shame and despair. He didn’t come to them in a spiffy business suit looking like he stepped off the cover of a magazine. He came to them with open arms and invited them in. He invited them to a messy life, to a hard life, to a life of sacrifice, and joy, and hope, and peace.  And with His last moments, He spent time around the table eating, drinking, and serving.

This is the good work we are called to do in this broken world. It is not to have perfect houses or perfect kids or perfect resumes. It is to spend our time sharing our brokenness with those around us. It is to open our messy homes and say come on over. It is to nourish the body and soul with food and hope. It is to love. And I believe in doing this, we will see a world transformed once again by the message of hope and love Jesus brings to us all.

 

 

Photo by Chelsea Francis on Unsplash

A Hug and A Quick Chat

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A few years ago, one of my dearest friends-we will call her M- moved to California. Her husband got a dream job and it was the right move for their family, but man, was it tough on me. We went to visit them shortly after they moved and a few weeks ago they were back in town for the first time since they left. (thankfully they have family here so every once in awhile they might come visit!)

We snagged a few minutes to chat over my lunch before they left town again and it was water to my soul. And a reminder of why I miss her so very much.  M is one of those people who just dives right in and ask the tough questions. None of this tip-toeing around “how is your day” type of stuff. She wants to know how your marriage is, how being a mom is, how your walk with God is going. She wants to truly know your heart and what is going on in the deepest corners of it. Perhaps beyond her ability to ask questions and be transparent with her life was her willingness to just be there. I have memories of countless hours spent just hanging out at her house in the middle of her 3 then, now 5 kids, chaos often ensuing around us. No matter, we would keep talking even if it was in stops and starts with interruptions to get water, a snack, mediate an argument, or put kids to bed.

A hug and a quick chat before she and her family headed back to the west coast both filled a void and increased an ache in my heart. While I love my millennial peers for so many reasons, I think we have lost the art of simply being together in community. It seems to often have to be an ordeal. Plans have to be made in advance because we are so busy, we fret about our houses’ cleanliness (or lack thereof), we need a reason-lunch, brunch, etc, or we just get so busy building our careers, resumes, communities, and social profiles, we just don’t have time to be. And even when we are together, transparency is often lacking. Every once in awhile in my circles, I will catch a glimpse of it, but often I find myself stuffing thoughts back inside because I don’t want to be the one whose marriage isn’t great or who isn’t always sure about this whole mom thing.

But the hour chat was the motivation I needed to clear my schedule, text or call, make the invite, and spend more time building relationships and less time building my resume. There will always be a meeting to attend, a cause to support, a fundraiser to give towards, but on the days when life is crumbling apart, it won’t be the organization or cause dropping by with a hot meal or a shoulder to cry on.

 

Big Hospitality

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The other day I was driving, just minding my own business and listening to the latest audiobook I had downloaded when BAM! out the blue I was sitting in my car, tears rolling down my face, wondering why in the world I ever thought listening to audiobooks was better than the mindless music on the radio. The book I am listening to is on friendship, apropos for the season of life I find myself in-both desperately needing community and desperately wanting to sit alone with my thoughts and without anyone clamoring for something. This specific chapter was on hospitality and I feel the need to listen to it 100 more times. I don’t often purchase the books I listen to, but this one is probably going to make the list.

The reason it hit me so hard is because I have felt this pull towards perfection since we moved. This pull to get my house in order before we invite people inside. We bought this house to invite people in and to build community. I have let things like paint colors and unopened boxes get in the way of opening our home. I have let dirty dishes and less than spotless floors and counters keep me from saying “come on over.” I have let Pinterest dictate what my house should look like instead of letting people inside.

Perhaps bigger, I have let the desire to present a completely put together self dictate my hospitality. Clean house, clean kid, well-thought out, healthy meals on appropriate dishware, and hair and make-up and clothes just so. I have let the pressure to act like I have this whole working mom-wife-community activist thing figured out. When the bigger reality is, what I desperately need is someone to come eat less-than-stellar food and chat while I fold the endless piles of laundry. Or someone to sit on my porch and drink a cup of tea while I ignore the corners of my house collecting dog hair and cobwebs. I mean, isn’t this what we all desire? Isn’t this perhaps the biggest tragedy of our busy lives? The loss of the habit of just showing up, uninvited and unannounced.

I have also let fine dictate my vocabulary. The author talked about how as women we need to give up fine from our vocabulary because none of us are ever really fine. We may be good or stressed or struggling or feeling like we are super mom for .2 seconds, but we aren’t really ever just fine. And we will never find deep, meaning connection in fine. We only find deep connection in the raw, honest moments.

So while my house project list is still endless, my focus for this season is on relationships and hospitality. We could also use a little more of both of those in our lives.

This Moment

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Blog writing comes in fits and starts for me. I get super gung-ho about it and write all the time or I barely post for months on end. This is not the best way to grow a blog or gain followers I realize and a lot of it comes down to my own insecurities. I get stuck in a rut feeling like I have nothing to say or contribute so I simply stop. Any writer will tell you this is something you absolutely cannot do. Over the past few months, I have done a lot of thinking, soul-searching, and self-development. I realized I was living from a scarcity mentality meaning if I saw someone else with the slice of pie I wanted,  I assumed it meant there wasn’t any pie left for me. And then I just gave up. Until this week happened. After some heartbreak both on the national level and on a pretty personal level, I decided to dust off the blog (figuratively speaking of course) and start writing. It is therapeutic for me and perhaps someone else needs to hear these words today.

Friend, there is room in this space for all our voices. And perhaps in this moment, there is an even greater need for voices of hope and light and love to contribute to the conversation. The world needs to know hope exists. Love exists. People do still care for their neighbors and communities. Good still exists in this world. For me, today, this realization hit me at home as I sat at our kitchen counter eating breakfast with my precious baby boy.

This morning I woke up my one-year old for the last time. Tomorrow he will wake up a two-year old. And as I have followed the loss of a precious two-year old this week, I have been sobered by the reality we are only given this moment. Life can change in a split second. I hugged him a little tighter this morning, kissed him a little longer, and let him eat my avocado for breakfast because he has this cute little dance he does when he asks for one. As I watched him across the table and thought about the world he is growing up in, I prayed he would grow to be a light and beacon of love and hope. I prayed we would grow as a family to love our neighbors and open our doors to those in need. And in the moment, I saw a little boy who knows nothing but love. I saw my sweet baby who had to say I love you to me, his dad, and his G (his affectionate name for his grandma) last night before he could go to bed. I saw a child who does not know hate or difference or cruelty. And I felt a weight of responsibility as I navigate parenting him and raising him to treat those around him with love, with respect, and with compassion.

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know what thoughts are running through your mind or what demons you are battling. I wish I could sit across the table from you over a cup of tea and talk about life. We need each other. We cannot do this alone and we cannot overcome hate and darkness by ourselves. But in this moment, I believe if we gather together, with our friends, our families, our communities, we can spread hope. We can share love. And we can change history for our children and grandchildren. Your voice matters. My voice matters. And we have to keep speaking.

 

Be a Cheerleader, not a Competitor

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Ever notice how sometimes themes tend to run through your life? Lately, a theme of running in your own lane has been weaving its way through several areas of my life. A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Q Conference in Nashville with a group from my city. Honestly, any other conference I go to from now on will be judged against Q. It was hands down one of the best conferences I have attended. Perhaps because over a period of 2.5 days, we heard approximately 50 different speakers. Talk about information overload! I am still trying to process it all.

Annie F. Downs gave a short talk the first morning and it hit me like a ton of bricks. She talked about how so often we live our lives like we are playing Chutes and Ladders instead of like we are playing Solitaire.  When we see someone else roll the dice and get to climb up the ladder we are jealous or envious and if we were honest, when we see others slide down the slide, perhaps there is a moment of where we think we aren’t doing terrible after all. We spend a lot of time and energy comparing everyone else’s lives to our own. We watch them succeed or fail and judge our own progress against theirs.

The thing is, as Annie said, our hands don’t look like everyone else’s. We were given a unique set of gifts and talents and entrusted with passions and skills. God has put a call on each of our lives only we can fulfill. And He knew what He was doing. (this hit me straight in the face). When we spend our time comparing or wishing our lives looked like so and so, we are doubting God’s perfect call on our own life. Perhaps we question why others have success and ours seems ever elusive.

For me, I struggled so much with watching other people seem to be living out their passion and doing things they love while I felt left out and left behind. This is not the life God has called us to live. We walked out of the room after Annie’s chat and were each given a card to remind us to play our own game. As I have been mulling over the card and her talk, I have come to a couple major aha moments.

  1. We are called for such a time as this. If you have ever listened to Ann Voskamp speak, you have probably heard her refer to the Esther generation and how we were called for such a time as this. As Christian women, I believe God has called us to the work of love and reconciliation and restoration.  This has to start with us. We have to stop competing against each other and start cheering each other on. We have to be agents of love in our families, our friend groups, our churches, and our communities. We have to stand up and say enough. My call is my call and your call is your call and guess what, there is enough room in this world for both.
  2. Her success does not mean my failure. This has been a tough one for me. It’s so easy to view life like a pie with finite slices. If she gets a slice, it feels like there is less for me. But the thing is, there is an endless number of pies. Instead of viewing others’ success as taking up some of ours, lets celebrate each other. Let us encourage and cheer and support and motivate. For much of the last couple years, I have felt so stuck. Unsure of what was next or what to do with the dreams in my heart. And then Annie told us to do the best with the life we have been given and it was like a light-bulb. I have felt stuck because I have been watching others tackle their dreams and felt like I was getting left behind. When God was simply asking me to put my dreams in His hands and trust He had a perfect plan for my life.
  3. We all need cheerleaders. After Annie’s talk, we were supposed to talk with the people we came with about what we felt our lanes were-where or what was God calling us? I told the two ladies I was with where I feel God is leading me and they were both so supportive. When we got home, one of them texted me and said ok, what now? How do we move forward? It was a moment I realized, we all need cheerleaders in our lives. And we all need to be cheerleaders in the lives of those around us. I mean, can you imagine what life would be like if we were all cheering each other on as we pursue our dreams? My dreams aren’t a threat to hers nor are hers to mine. Together we can encourage, cheer, and motivate each other towards the life God is calling us to live.

How can we do the best with the life we have been given? I believe it starts with running our own race and cheering on those around us instead of viewing them as competitors. I believe it starts with vulnerability and community and understanding the world is full of pies, waiting for us all to partake. It happens when we become cheerleaders to each others’ dreams. So friend, join me in cheering on those around you and enjoying pie all around!

Put Down the Expectations

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My word for the year was authenticity. And right now, being authentic means admitting to myself (and ya’ll) my expectations set me up for a dark dive into struggle.  See, buying your dream farmhouse with dreams to fix it up is very different from living in said dream farmhouse in need of fixing up. Pinterest boards full of Farmhouse decor are exciting, but ants covering your counters and bathrooms not working are not. I have spent hours aimlessly wandering or doing nothing because I am so overwhelmed by it all. Perhaps though the aimless wandering gave me ample time for much needed soul-searching. I realized in all this expectations can set you up for massive disappointment. Reality is often different from what we picture or what we see on other’s newsfeeds and Pinterest boards. And when your expectations and reality clash, it can all come crashing down.

As I have sorted through these feelings and tried to get to the core of it all, I realized so much of it comes from wanting the finished product without the hard work. It’s wanting to post a perfect picture of your pristine kitchen when the reality is three days of dirty dishes, unpacked boxes, and ants. It’s feeling like you need to fit into society’s version of acceptable instead of giving yourself grace because you just moved, have a toddler, and between you and your husband work outside your house 100+ hours a week. It’s carrying it all on your own when we were never called to those burdens. So here are three things I am working on as I reset my priorities and put my soul-searching into action.

 

  1. Accept help. Seriously, unpacking is the worst. But when your mother-in-law offers to help you unpack the rest of your kitchen, take her up on the offer. No one is going to take away your super mom status because you couldn’t do it all by yourself.  This has been really hard for me because I tend to be pretty independent, but I have had to admit I can’t do it all. I am still working on asking for help from others, but baby steps.
  2. Unplug from Pinterest. And any other social media site making you more overwhelmed. I gave up pinning farmhouse decor and stopped scrolling through my app aimlessly.  Someday my house may look like one of those pictures, but for now, it looks like a tornado came through and left a wake of empty boxes, random clothes, and nonperishable food which happens to be all over my kitchen.  There is no magic wand I can wave to make my house perfect and right now I have to be okay with the “character” of the house.  I have to settle in and live there and not feel like because the walls aren’t painted or the house isn’t perfect, I am somehow less than those around me. This is tough. Comparing our reality to other people’s highlight reels is oh so easy.
  3. Give Grace. As I mentioned, I have spent a lot of time soul searching as I have dealt with an onslaught of emotions surrounding our move. I am Type A to the max and grace is hard for me. It’s hard for me to accept and it’s been hard for me to give. I honestly think so much of my struggle comes back to beating myself up for not meeting some impossible standard I set for myself. But we bought a house in need of a lot of work and the work has humbled me. It has caused me to cry and to laugh. It has caused me to get on my knees and to realize the life Jesus is calling me to is so different from the life I have been living. Jesus doesn’t ask us to get our house in order first. He asks us to come to Him and rest. To accept His grace. His stamp on us says we are bought, we are covered, and we are redeemed. He says His burden is light. I preach this message a lot, but for some reason letting it sink into my own heart has been harder. The burden I have been carrying around felt like a ton of bricks. It felt like expectation and perfection and pressure and the need for my life to appear put together. The more honest reality is both my house and my soul are a disaster. They are both in desperate need of grace. One for physically being left empty for years and now housing 2 working adults and 1 messy toddler and one for spiritually being starved for years. Neither will get to their full capacity on their own. Both will require work and grace and patience and acceptance.

Friend, Jesus invites us to come to Him with all our burdens and weariness and He will give us rest. Are in a season in desperate need of rest? Do you struggle to give yourself grace in our picture-perfect world? Let’s trade our heavy burdens and Instagram filters for the burden of a Savior who is light and life and unconditional love. Seems like a better deal to me.

 

 

Stop Striving and Start Seeking

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Every once in a while I miss reading actual books because you cannot highlight and write in audio books. I am a highlighter of books. If you ever borrow one from me, they will have marks and double underlines and “yes” and “Amen” written in them. When I switched to the world of audio books because I have a toddler who refuses to sit still, I find I miss being about to go back and reference lines or quotes from the books. Occasionally, something hits me so hard, I hit pause, reverse, and hit pause again to write down a line. Near the end of one of my most recent “reads”, I did exactly this because the line the author wrote and was now reading hit me square in the face. The entire book, entitled “Breaking Busy” by Ali Worthington, was incredible. If you are an over-scheduler, Type A personality like myself, I highly recommend it.

“You do not have to strive endlessly to be good enough or to find God’s plan for you. When you stay focused on God, you will not miss your destiny. “

Oh sweet friend how those words washed over me like water on the ocean shore! As tears welled up in my eyes, I realized this was exactly where I had been all these years. Striving to be good enough. Striving to be worthy enough. Striving to fit in. Striving to reach a dream which felt so far out of reach. And in all my striving, I lost focus on the One who loves me unconditionally. Who died on the cross and opened His arms to me with no strings attached. Those of us who grew up in the church could probably quote Jeremiah 29:11 forwards, backwards, and in our sleep. It’s one of those verses we just like to call on for all variety of situations. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  But so many times we stop there. We stop with the promise – God has plans for us. And somewhere, we get all caught up in trying to figure out what those plans are and how to accomplish them. We add to our resumes, to our knowledge, to our calendars, all in an effort to pursue this ever elusive plan God has for our lives.

But what if we are completely missing the point? Perhaps the verses we really need to memorize forwards and backwards are the ones following Jeremiah 29:11. The next two verses say, “12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  God promised us a future, but it is not a future we are to strive for on our own. Our future plans come when we seek and find God, when we call on His name, when we spend quiet moments in prayer. He never intended for us to move ahead on our own. The verse doesn’t say I promised you a future and the only way to get there is to have the perfect resume, the perfect network, and the perfect wardrobe.

No, sweet friend, God is calling us to a different path. A path often unknown and perhaps a bit scary. A path which for me has been a struggle to find because it is a path I cannot control. I cannot work hard enough, hustle fast enough, volunteer long enough to get there. I won’t find my way on my own. My dreams will lay in shattered pieces around a broken soul, tired by the striving, until I sit at the feet of Jesus and offer Him it all. Until I seek Him with my whole heart. Only then will the path start to make sense. Only then will my feet begin to walk and skip and run again.

If you, like me, struggle to be quiet in a world calling us to strive harder, I encourage you today to start small. Sit in quiet for one minute. Reflect on Jeremiah 29:12-13. And together, lets stop striving and start seeking.

 

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You Are a Missionary

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Growing up, the term missionary was reserved for a group of people who left the comforts of America to go serve a foreign people group. I believe God calls people to serve in remote parts of the world and missionary is a very accurate term for them. As a church, we should support and pray for them and continue to send people around the world to serve. But this Sunday, the pastor at my church asked us to consider the fact we were indeed all missionaries.

If Jesus is Lord of your life, you are part of the mission of God. You are a missionary.  Over and over in scripture, we see God as a God of mission and purpose. He is on a mission to save the lost. And His mission is not reserved for a specific class of people. Matthew 28:18-20, often referred to as the Great Commission asks us to go and make disciples of all nations. Your community is very much a part of all nations and the charge to go and make disciples is not reserved for the few who go, but it is a charge for all who claim to follow Jesus.

Matthew 28: 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Maybe you are a missionary called to your children’s school. Or to your workplace. Or to your neighbors. Wherever God has called you to live and serve, there is your mission field. This is your “all nations.”  What would our communities look like if we all stepped into the role and calling of missionary?

The tough part of being a missionary is you must carry a message. A message which some find rude and ignorant. The message of Jesus is hope and love. But it is also one of condemnation for those who do not believe. John 3:16-18 paints this picture clearly,

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

 

Jesus is the answer, but how we communicate the answer matters. 

 

We did not get out of our condemnation on our own. We did not come to salvation based on our own merits. And we cannot carry a message with strings or requirements. I love how my pastor put it, “ Jesus is our ultimate motive, not our ulterior motive. Perhaps loving those around you means they never convert. This does not change our charge as missionaries carrying a message. This does not change the heart we are supposed to have for our communities. And perhaps if we loved people simply because we are loved by Jesus rather than loving them towards conversion, this would change everything.

What does it mean to look at life as a mission field? How can we be people of mission here? Perhaps it starts with the same ways we would propose to be missionaries in foreign lands. We begin to pray for those around us, for our communities, for our leaders. We build relationships with the people in our lives. We survey the areas we live and assess the needs. And then we bring the message to our mission field. We bring it through our lives, our love, our service. We bring it by dropping off a meal to the neighbors or working hard in our jobs or encouraging our children to befriend the lonely kids at school. We see the mom in the drop-off line who needs some extra encouragement today or the neighborhood that needs a voice to help it find its own. Can you imagine how our cities might change if we all viewed them as mission fields? If we stopped complaining about them and started loving them. If we stopped taking from them and started giving to them. I believe it would be revolutionary.

Will you pray with me today and ask the Lord how to live our mission right here? How to step into the role of missionary in our own communities and how to carry His love to those around us? 

 

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Love-Colored Glasses

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The other day I saw a post on Facebook complaining about how awful the city I live in is and several people agreed with the comment. According to the post, it’s a violent, drug-ridden town and you should be afraid to leave your house. Now, I will give you for instance, that our city has been on several top 10 lists for worst place to live, fattest city, most unhappy etc. While I am not entirely sure where this data comes from and am sure not everyone in my city is the nicest person you will ever meet, these lists and the above Facebook post are poor representations of the town I call home. And honestly, the post broke my heart.

Several years ago, I would have sworn up and down I would never settle in this town. I hated it. I wanted out and I wanted out bad. Then I fell in love with the most amazing guy and I began praying for God to change my heart and help me see my town through His eyes.  I took off my rose-colored glasses and put on love-colored glasses. I also started hanging out with a bunch of people who are working hard to make my city better. These are people fighting for progress, development, growth, and community. They are the people who could list off 100 things to do on any given night while others are complaining there is nothing to do in this town. They are the people in the trenches loving and working in some of the toughest parts of the city. They are people opening their homes to all manner of people, those like them and those completely different. And if you asked them, they would all express a sense of love for this dear town.

It’s a not a love springing from circumstances. Our town didn’t suddenly make some top 10 best places to live list. But they, like me, have committed to cultivating love for the people in this city. They are choosing every day to view our city through the lens of love.  We are praying for restoration and wholeness in our city. We are seeking to build community across religious lines, race lines, and socioeconomic lines. We are spending time in the dark places, the places with violence and drugs, we are moving into the neighborhoods and inviting others into our lives. It’s messy, it’s often tough and scary, but it is opening my eyes to how much Jesus must have loved me. He died for me. He gave up His life when I couldn’t care less for Him. He loved humanity-a humanity which would someday be full of drugs, and violence, and slavery, and all manner of evil. And yet, He still died. In His death, He called us to life and He called us to love.  He called us, those who claim to love Him, to love those around us. And each day, as I get ready for my day, I pray for His love to be part of my life. For love colored glasses to be the lens through which I view my co-workers, my friends, the clerk at the grocery store, the city in which I call home. And each day, it gets easier and easier to say with all sincerity, I truly love this community. I want to see it succeed and grow. I want to see it transformed and restored. And I will keep fighting for this because there are so many in our city who need someone, anyone to fight for them.

Friend, wherever you are, will you join me in praying for love-colored glasses? I believe this is the only way Jesus would want us to view our communities. If you live near me and want a practical way to show some love, check out City Serve Day on March 18th. Join a team to serve our community or add your own service project to the list. Let’s show others how much light can change the dark places around us.

We Have Given Up

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Dear American Evangelical,

It seems we have given up. A quick perusal of social media makes this point painstakingly obvious to some, but perhaps you are still not convinced.  For a minute, just consider what giving up might look like to others.

We have given up our missional calling for political pursuits.

We have given up being pro-neighbor to be pro-life.

We have given up the calling of the church for the calling of the state.

We have given up Christian first for Republican first.

We have given up the simplicity of the gospel for the complexity of dos and do nots.

We have given up kindness for rightness.

We have given up coffee with a friend for Facebook status updates.

We have given up true community for churches that meet our current wants.

We have given up intimacy with our Savior for intimacy with our screens.

We have given up God bless those who persecute you for God bless America.

We have given up Jesus for a president.

We have given up our humanity for political laws.

We have given up the beauty of following an unsafe Savior for the promise of safe borders.

We have given up the kingdom of God for the kingdom of the world.

 

You see dear friends, it seems we have given up. When the world desperately needs Jesus followers, we have become something else. When those around us desperately need love, community, and safe places, we have become outspoken political billboards. Perhaps this is harsh. And maybe it is. Some of you have not given up. And I am here to cheer you on. Keep going. Keep working in the trenches and on the edges and in the places no one sees. But for much of the “church” it’s time to give up.

 

Give up being right for being kind and listening.

Give up the Facebook status for a conversation over coffee.

Give up the harsh words for love.

Give up the sword for the cross.

Give up comfort for the Comforter.

Give up safety for the One who promised to never leave us.

 

It’s time for the church to pursue the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this world. It’s time for us to take up our crosses and follow a Savior who modeled a life of sacrifice, risk, and love. A Savior who died for others instead of bringing political revolution. A Savior who came in on a donkey. Who gave seats at the table to the outcast, the woman, the less than, the uneducated, the poor, and who chose an unwed teenager to be the mother of the greatest gift to humanity. You see, dear friend, if you want to change our land, it starts not in the White House, but in the lowly manger.