Write 31 Days

Lie #9 I Can Fix It

I fall for this lie all the time. I want to believe I can fix problems so badly.

Here’s the truth.

I usually can’t fix it.

The situations I can fix are extremely rare. Not only that, most of the things I want to fix are frankly none of my business.

Instead of trying to fix it. I need to be fixing my eyes on Jesus and my purpose — the race set before me and the prize I am racing towards.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
— Proverbs 4:25 ESV

Wanting to fix situations limits my ability to listen to others. Instead of really listening to what I’m hearing, I’m thinking ahead to problem-solving solutions. Listening is usually the kindest thing you can do for a friend, so I should focus completely on just listening.

Thinking I can fix things puts myself on a different level than the person with the problem. Instead of being peers, I put myself as a fixer who is higher than the one with the problem.

When I think I am supposed to fix situations, and it turns out reality dictates I can’t, I have unnecessary shame. If I think I should be fixing it, and I can’t, it can make me want to avoid a situation or the friend with the unsolvable problem.

In short, trying to fix it often pushes me farther away from others instead of bringing us closer together.

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Fix it, Jesus.

Lie #8 Certainty Is Possible

One of the ways I know I’m not doing well mentally is that I am waiting for certainty to move forward or I am wanting certainty from a situation where it isn’t possible.

When I am wanting to be certain of an outcome, what is going to happen in the future, or wanting certainty in what someone else is thinking, their thoughts behind their actions, I am wanting something I can never have.

I can’t know these things.

I can get stuck wanting these things.

I have been stuck wanting to know the future. I have bee stuck wanting to understand other’s thoughts and actions.

If we want to move forward with our lives, we have to accept that we just won’t have all the answers.

Not knowing can put you in two very different places. It can put in a place of paralysis, full of fear. Or it can put you in a place of bravely facing the unknown, otherwise known as having faith.

We aren’t suppose to have all the knowledge. We aren’t supposed to see all the steps and pieces in this life. It doesn’t work that way. It never has and never will.

There are things we can be certain about as Christians.

Knowing those things about God’s relationship with us is what we hold onto as we deal with these uncertain, difficult times in our life. Searching out these truths brings freedom, not fear. It will never bring you to a place of feeling stuck, but it will bring to a place of open hands and surrender.

Surrender isn’t a comfortable place, but it is the best place.

If you find yourself stuck, ruminating uncertain situations or confounding people in your mind, step away from wanting certainty. If you find yourself stuck facing a decision, and you think you can’t make up your mind without every ever-loving fact, step away from wanting certainty.

Let go of the absolute words about your life right now or your thoughts about yourself. Stop using: should, shouldn’t, never, always, everyone, no one, everything, nothing, must, and ought.

Embrace: maybe, trust, possibility, surrender, imagine, adventure, brave, and hope.

So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus.
— 2 Timothy 1:8-10 The Message

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Here’s a song for you today.

Lie #7 You Have To Say Yes

In my early twenties, I was a young, new mom. I went out in search of mom friends and friends for my little girl who loved to talk by joining a few playgroups. I was very insecure because of my age. I wanted to get the parenting gig right, and I had no idea how to do that. I wanted to be liked. I didn’t want to be criticized. So I thought I had to say “yes” to every opportunity to prove to the older, more-experienced moms that I was responsible and capable.

I said “yes” to many things that might be parent adjacent like baking cookies, organizing crafts, and whatever else was needed. I said “yes” to things that had nothing to do with parenting and, in fact, probably took time away from my children like being treasurer of the homeschool association.

My motive was probably a high percentage towards wrong on a scale of pure to neediness. In many ways, I wanted to prove my worth by volunteering and knocking that task out of the park.

I don’t regret those yeses. I learned things and grew as a person by serving others.

I also said “yes” out of a fear of being overlooked the next time. What if they never ask me again? I wanted to be needed and well thought of. I wanted to seem capable, cool, and smart to the older women I was making friends with.

As my children were older, I was able to be more involved with our church that is really more of a children’s ministry than a church. It had lots of outreach to under-resourced neighborhoods: feeding programs, free camps, and Bible classes. I started saying “yes” to all I could in our ministry too.

My motives were a little better when it came to these yeses. I had lost my brother to suicide, and life felt so much more urgent. I wanted to love these children and make sure they knew about Jesus.

I ran heavy and hard at ministry. The undercurrents were that neediness of my soul wanting approval, seeking to prove my worth.

I had to burnout to learn the lesson that I could say “no.”

I had to realize how protecting my times of quiet and rest was crucial to ministry longevity. I needed to protect my time for the “yes” I should say, and I would bring God glory by serving out of a place where I was secure in His love instead of needy for others’ approval.

Saying “no” is still hard for me because of the bad habit of people pleasing, but I am fighting that lie that I have to say “yes” every time I say “no” when I should.

Have you believed the lie that your “yes” is required? What is something you know you should be saying “no” to in your life?

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A song for you today.


Lie #6 I'm Too Much

My thoughts are too much.

My ideas are too much.

My feelings are too much

I take everything too seriously.

I care too much.

I make people uncomfortable because of my excess of thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

These are all the lies I believed about myself centered around this idea of being too much. And these lies aren’t just lies. They are shame. I believed there was something wrong with me. I constantly censored myself around people because I believed they couldn’t handle it if I let them see the real me — hear what I was really thinking, share all my ideas, or show what I was really feeling. I’ve been censoring myself for so long that I don’t know if I will ever be comfortable enough to stop completely.

If I cry, I’m being too emotional. If I laugh, I’m being too flippant. If I talk, I’ll probably be disagreed with. If I don’t talk, I’m being too quiet.

This is really hard to write about. I’ve been dreading sharing this because this place in me is still raw. I don’t have it all figured out. I’m still changing this lie to truth in my thought patterns.

But I know so many of you have this same lie haunting your thoughts and actions. I know so many of you shame and censor yourselves too.

Let’s make a deal. Let’s quit believing this together.

I’m not too much.

You are not too much.

You know how I’m beginning to see the light of the truth about us? I’m beginning to see a fuller picture of who Jesus is and knowing that allows me to shine a light on the truth about us.

Jesus is the Great Acceptor.

He did not come to earth to point out our flaws. He came to earth to bridge the gap between our possibility of righteousness without Him to our possibility of righteousness with Him. He came to bring us life, not tweak our personality. He came because he loved us — who we were created to be, not to dim or censor our personality to be less.

God sees you and knows you, and He doesn’t think you are too much because you are not too much.

God loves you and likes you, and He doesn’t ask you to censor your thoughts, ideas, or feelings because He already knows them anyway.

Here’s the thing that makes being yourself hard. There are people that will reject you when you share your thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Guess what? It’s ok. You are not any less of a wonderful creation because a person doesn’t like you.

The work of fighting these lies also requires the work of letting go of needing acceptance from other people.

I already have the only acceptance I need from the Great Acceptor.

It is all I need. (Well, it is all I want to need. I have yet to let go of that addiction to people pleasing completely, but I am fighting for that freedom because I need it to be healthy.)

You already have the only acceptance you need from the Great Acceptor.

He knows you, sees you, loves you, and likes you.

Quit shaming yourself. Allow yourself to be you. Share your ideas. Show your true feelings. Quit worrying about people’s reactions.

Use common sense as you do this. There are unsafe people in this world, and you may need help figuring out who is a safe person to share your feelings with.

In safe situations, be you.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
— 1 John 3:1 ESV

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A song for you today.

Lie #5 You Are Either Good At This or That

In seventh grade, my math teacher suspected I was too good at math to be in the regular class I was in. She gave me a test, and apparently, I scored well enough to convince the school to let me skip pre-algebra and go straight into algebra. 

There was a lot of left-brain, right-brain talk going on in the early 90s. Somehow I got the idea that if I was never going to be good at Language Arts because I had been dubbed a math person at that point. (Never mind the fact that I devoured books all through my childhood and I don’t remember not being able to read.)

My junior year of high school the English class I would have been in didn’t fit my schedule. I convinced the advanced English teacher to allow me to join her class instead. My motivation wasn’t purely academic. My two best friends were in the class. Even though I made good grades in the advanced class and was able to stay in the advanced class my senior year, I would have told you I was good at math and bad at language arts because I had put myself in that box in seventh grade. 

Even after I dropped out of my pre-calculus class my senior year, I would have still told you that I was a math person.  

I choose accounting as my major in college because I was a math person.  

Even though one of my favorite college class memories was talking about The Awakening in my sophomore English class, I would have told you I was a math person. 

I loved a lot of my college business classes, and I even to an upper-level math class called set theory for as an elective for fun. 

The truth is that I was good at different portions of math and I was good at different portions of Language Arts. It wasn’t an either-or situation.  

I’m good at reading and writing. I’m awful at spelling. I’m good at algebra and theory. I’m awful at doing math in my head and geometry.

If I had embraced what I was good at, I might have studied something different in college. I might have started blogging and writing sooner.

I think we have a tendency to look at spiritual gifts the same way. If I’m good at teaching, I must be bad at hospitality. If I’m good at prayer, I must be bad at evangelism.

Or sometimes we don’t know what our gift is because we are too afraid to try.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
— 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV

Don’t put yourself in a box. Try serving, even in areas that are uncomfortable.

Spread your wings. Allow God to paint your story outside the lines.

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Lie #4: What You Do Is Who You Are

I easily fall into the trap of achieving. In my flesh, I strive for approval through achievement.

Accomplisher is not my identity. Writer is not my identity. Mom is not my identity. Teaching is not my identity. Wife is not my identity. Podcaster is not my identity. Friend is not my identity. My local church is not my identity. Homeschool mom is not my identity. My IQ is not my identity. My bank account is not my identity. My hobbies are not my identity. My home is not my identity. How I look is not my identity.

What we do is not who we are.

It can get confusing because we get introduced as or called these things, but this is not who we are.

Our identity is established in eternal facts about us. Who we will be in Heaven should be how we define ourselves now. How God sees us is how we should train our brain to see ourselves.

A beloved daughter of God through faith is my identity. Covered by His blood because of grace and mercy is my identity. Who I was created to be at my soul level is my identity. Being seen, known, loved and liked by God is my identity. Disciple of Christ is my identity. Being called friend of Jesus is my identity. Adopted heir to the kingdom is my identity. Chosen by God is my identity.

What we do is good, but what the Lord has done is who we are.

You are not what you do.

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
— Galatians 3:25-29 ESV

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A song for you today.

Lie #3: All Checkboxes Are Created Equal

I can get the same sense of satisfaction from finishing a tv show as checking off a box in my planner. I feel as accomplished when I add another finished book to my Goodreads account as I do posting a blog post.

As someone who enjoys finishing tasks, I take enjoyment when I check off a box that I’ve accomplished something.

But not all checkboxes are equal or accomplish the same thing in life. I can fool my brain into thinking I did something at the end of the day. I can believe the lie that I’m accomplishing what I should be doing with my life by watching a tv show.

There are survival accomplishments: buy the groceries, pay the bills, file the taxes, do the dishes, wash the clothes, and read yo’ Bible.

There are make-life-better accomplishments: go to that doctor’s appointment, take my kids to the dentist, Target runs, organize that closet, buy some flowers, water the plant, meet with the insurance agent, and/or actually put up those clothes and dishes you washed.

There are entertain-your-brain accomplishments: binge the show, read that mystery novel, listen to the music, or maybe Wednesdays we PopCast.

Then there are the accomplishments that actually are long-term, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life accomplishments.

I can get bogged down in the weeds of just finishing survival accomplishments with a side of entertainment accomplishments and never actually accomplish the things I want to do in life (especially when my mental health isn’t the best.) I heard a podcaster call it “running the errands of life.”

I have goals that will never get accomplished if I never put time towards them. These goals require me doing things that I don’t always feel like doing. I want to be a better writer. I want to study my Bible with intention. I want to publish a book with a traditional publisher. I want to disciple my kids. I want to have a marriage I enjoy. I want to see a book I wrote on the shelf at Target. I want to really know God. I want to fulfill the Great Commission to the best of my ability. I want to make life better for other people. I want to enjoy my family and love them well.

What will my life be known for?

What will your life be known for?

Are there things you want to accomplish that get pushed to the back burner? Have you believed the lie that all checkboxes are created equal?

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us.
— 2 Corinthians 6:1 The Message

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Song for you today.

Lie #2: "You're Too Quiet" = Something Is Wrong With Me

I heard it again today. A woman leaned over to me and whispered, “You’re too quiet.” I had tried to interject a thought during a discussion, but the group leader who was leading the discussion moved on without hearing my comment.

I want to make it clear that the leader and woman didn’t mean any harm, and I didn’t take offense.

When I heard, “You’re too quiet,” I physically shook my head “no” and I was honestly surprised to find myself refuting her words with my head shaking back and forth. My body had responded before my brain knew what was happening.

The next thought I had was to see the humor in hearing these exact words today when I knew I was writing this Write 31 Days Series.

And then my next thought was that I realized I wasn’t disagreeing that I was not quiet, I was disagreeing that I’m too quiet.

That little word — too — changes so much.

I’ve heard it all my life, and I know the words were often spoke to fill awkward silence. I can’t know the intention of the words, but I know the message my heart received every time I heard them.

I heard, you should change because the way you are is wrong.

I am quiet. If you met me in person and then had to try to describe me to someone else, I think you would probably use the word “quiet” in your description. I know I could not change this fact about myself if I tried.

The other thought I had as I was shaking my head “no” this morning was, what I’m hearing does not mean that something is wrong with me.

As I’ve worked hard to fight negative self-talk this year, I’ve learned that the other side of this spiritual battle is liking myself by embracing the exceptional way God made me.

Embracing this quality, quietness, in myself was a fight because I didn’t know how to see the positive attributes around my quietness when I had focused on the wrongness of my quietness for so long.

Here’s what I learned to appreciate about my quietness. I know my quiet allows my soul to dig deep, ask difficult questions without fear, observe my world, and notice the other quiet humans who often go unnoticed.

I’m not sure I would choose quietness if I could change myself because outspokenness is applauded in our culture, but loving myself requires I appreciate this quality.

What quality to you struggle to appreciate about yourself and what does that attribute allow you to accomplish in life?

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
— Exodus 14:14 ESV

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Here’s a song for you today. I hope I didn’t shake my head this crazy this morning. Ha!

Lie #1: Everyone Berates Themselves in Their Thoughts

As long as I can remember I’ve had critical, shame-filled thoughts about myself. I thought everyone did.

It went beyond correcting myself when I did something wrong. 

An example of a correcting thought might be, “I knocked off the cup. I need to be more careful next time.”

An example of a shameful, berating thought might be, “I always knock off things off. I’m so clumsy and awkward. I have no coordination and I take up too much room. Other people aren’t like this. What is wrong with me? I’m the worst.”

After a retreat leader brought up my negative self-talk at a ministry retreat we attended last fall, I asked my husband about his thoughts toward himself.

“Don’t you have these types of thoughts?”

The retreat leader had me list out all the negative thoughts I had about myself. I was on my third page, and I wasn’t done yet.

“No,” he said emphatically. “I don’t think that way about myself at all. It worries me that you do.”

I tore myself down in my thinking, and I was shocked to find out that everyone didn’t do the same.

I’ll be sharing some of those negative things I thought about myself this month because all of the things I allowed my brain to repeat to myself in my head were lies. I reinforced those lies by repeating them and believing them in that invisible space no one can see and hear.

The effect of berating myself and believing those lies was not invisible though. It spilled out into my life in so many ways. It affected the speed in which I could slip into anxiety or depression. It affected my ability to be objective about my relationships with friends and family. It pushed me into perfectionism. It enabled my people-pleasing to continue because I if I could get approval from others then maybe I could prove the voices in my head wrong. It made me wear shame-colored glasses that changed how I viewed everything in my life. I was constantly on the warpath of striving to prove my worth.

For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
— Proverbs 23:7a NASB

It was daunting to think about changing the way I thought. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t think that way about myself.

Realizing that not everyone had pages and pages of negative self-talk gave me hope.

Not everyone rakes themselves over the coals in their thinking, and I didn’t have to either. 

If you need to hear this because you believed this lie too: Not everyone lives with negative self-talk. You don’t have to think that way. You can change the way you think. You can stop berating yourself in your head.



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Here’s a song for you today. John Ortberg says that the soul is needy like Bob from What about Bob. That’s accurate.

To All the Lies I've Believed Before

A Write 31 Days Series

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Introduction:

Life as a Christian is filled with spiritual warfare, and the harshest warfare for me has been an internal battle — lies from the enemy and negative-self talk in my head. The great accuser’s currency is lies. These lies are like arrows thrown where we are most vulnerable.

For the next 31 days, I’ll be sharing lies that I believed, how those beliefs based in fallacy affected me and my ability to follow Jesus, how I decided to quit believing the lies, and how powerful embracing the truth can be in our lives.

I know there will be some overlap in some of the lies you’ve believed with some of the lies that I’ve believed. Join me, and I hope we can find some truth and freedom together.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one
— Ephesians 6:16 ESV

Table of Contents:

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Book Review - Holy Hustle

I first was introduced to Crystal Stine when I signed up for my first Write-31-Days challenge back in 2015. She was our host, encouraging participants to keep going on our challenge.

This week, I was thrilled to read Crystal’s first published book that released today, Holy Hustle: Embracing a Work-Hard, Rest-Well Life. 

I’m here for the rest. This is a lesson I’ve been learning the past few months. After some serious burnout, our church sent my husband and me to a week-long retreat specifically to help us overcome our ministry burnout. The majority of our week was spent learning why proper rhythms of work and rest were extremely important in ministry. I had already begun learning some of these lessons as I hit a wall and wrote about my feelings towards good works and God in my 2016 Write-31-Days challenge.

Crystal has learned the importance of rest.

I’ve had to admit some prideful thoughts to God as He’s asked me to incorporate rest into my life. Thoughts like: No one else can do this as well as I can. If I don’t do it who will? If I say yes to all these projects I’ll have job security. I don’t have time to rest.

Whether it’s about the work I need to do to maintain our household for my family, the tasks on my freelance to-do list, or the commitments I’ve made to friends, my pride tells me I need to strive, work harder than everyone else, and prove I’m irreplaceable. In reality all that does is cause me to experience burnout and frustration.
— Crystal Stine, Holy Hustle

The idea that we can rest well as we do good work is so exhilarating.

I have to admit that I felt a little tension with the word hustle. I’ve been in urban ministry for twenty years, and for me, hustle has connotations related to selling illegal things on corners. I know that might not be the typical connotation for a middle-aged white Jesus woman, but it is. Rap lyrics are not a stranger to me.

Crystal lays out a beautiful case for redeeming the word hustle.

When we look at the dictionary definition of hustle, all it means is to ‘work rapidly or energetically.’ Doesn’t it remind you of Colossians 3:23? ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.’
— Crystal Stine, Holy Hustle

Crystal spends the majority of the book telling what good work is not:

  • It does not bring guilt or shame you for resting.
  • It is not striving.
  • It isn’t bothersome or insignificant to God.
  • It can’t be too small to make a big impact in God’s Kingdom.
  • It isn’t born out of fear.
  • It doesn’t serve ourselves, instead it serves others.
  • It doesn’t shine a spotlight on ourselves, instead it illuminates God’s glory.
  • It isn’t work just meant for a few people, instead it is for everyone.
  • It doesn’t promote competition.
  • It isn’t limited to a few gifts, instead every gift is needed.
  • It doesn’t stop when failure happens, instead God can redeem failure.
  • It doesn’t keep going when it is time to rest.
Tucked into holy hustle is freedom that takes away the guilt of work and the shame of rest.
— Crystal Stine, Holy Hustle

Holy Hustle will change the way you live out your calling among the people in your lives. As you read and embrace healthy rhythms of work and rest, you can obey your commission well and have holier harmony in your priorities.

We can model rest to our families, we can prioritize people over projects, and we can enter our work ready to serve with our whole hearts. We can also create a sustainable model of holy hustle that allows us to do the best possible work for God’s kingdom as we choose to intentionally work hard, rest well, and repeat.
— Crystal Stine, Holy Hustle

Write 31 Days Project - DevoPod, devotional podcast

For my third year participating in Write 31 Days, I'm going to do something a little different. I'm going to launch a new podcast. I'll be writing devotional content for each of the podcast episodes so just because I won't be typing out words here on the blog page, that doesn't mean I won't be writing my little heart out.

The introduction episode and today's episode, day one,  is now on my website if you'd like to listen to them both. The links are below. I will continue to add links to this page as I release episodes each day this month. 

You can listen to the DevoPod on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play.

DevoPod is a daily devotional in podcast form. My goal for the podcast is to make taking time to really be in God’s Word easy for listeners. Each day this month, the podcast will lead the listener through a short Scripture reading straight from the Bible, a prayer, and a question so that you can make His Word personal in your heart and life. The episodes will be about five minutes long.

We will be concentrating on a different Beatitude each week; week one will examine, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Links:

 

Introduction:

Day One:

Poor in Spirit; 2 Corinthians 12:5-10

Day Two:

Poor in Spirit; Philippians 2:1-11

Day Three:

Poor in Spirit; James 4:1-10

Day Four:

Poor in Spirit; Eph 4:1-7

Day Five:

Poor in Spirit; 1 Peter 5:6-9

Day Six:

Poor in Spirit; Matthew 11:25-30

Day Seven:

Poor in Spirit; Luke 21:1-4

Day Eight:

Day one of Those Who Mourn; Romans 8:38-39

Day Nine:

Day two of Those Who Mourn; John 11:17-27

Day Ten:

Day three of Those Who Mourn; John 11:28-37

Day Eleven:

Day four of Those Who Mourn; Romans 5:1-5

Day Twelve:

Day five of Those Who Mourn; John 14:1-4

Day Thirteen:

Day six of Those Who Mourn; Romans 8:26-27

Day Fourteen:

Day seven of Those Who Mourn; 2 Corinthians 7:7-13a

Day Fifteen:

Day one of The Meek; Psalms 37

Day Sixteen:

Day two of The Meek; James 3:13-18

Day Seventeen:

Day three of The Meek; Numbers 12:3

Day Eighteen:

Day four of The Meek; Jeremiah 39:9-10

Day Nineteen:

Day five of The Meek; 1 Peter 5:5

Day Twenty:

Day six of the The Meek; Zeph. 3:11-13

Day Twenty-One:

Day seven of The Meek; 1 Peter 3:13-17

Day Twenty-Two:

Day one of Satisfied; Genesis 15:1-6

Day Twenty-Three:

Day two of Satisfied; Jeremiah 23:5-6

Day Twenty-Four:

Day three of Satisfied; Matthew 5:17-20

Day Twenty-Five:

Day four of Satisfied; Matthew 6:25-33

Day Twenty-Six:

Day five of Satisfied; Romans 1:16-17

Day Twenty-Seven:

Day six of Satisfied; Romans 4:1-8

Day Twenty-Eight:

Day seven of Satisfied; Romans 8:9-11

Day Twenty-Nine:

Day eight of Satisfied; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Day Thirty:

Day nine of Satisfied; Galatians 2:15-21

Day Thirty-one:

Day ten of Satisfied; Galatians 3:10-14

<<< a song for you >>>

Introducing Myself

I am off to a writers conference in just 10 short days.  I will be attending the Declare Conference in Dallas, Texas, and I'm introducing myself for a fun pre-conference blog link-up.

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Whether you are a conference attendee or just reading my blog, I have now recruited you as a friend and you should know some things.

When did you feel called to be a digital evangelist, what’s your main medium (podcast / blogging / books / speaking / social media / etc.), and how long have you been doing it?

I fell in love with writing while blogging about a mission trip to Ethiopia in 2014.  I had been blogging about our adoption experience before that, but this was a whole new heart-tug to write about so much more.  I have written two eBooks, Faith Adventures and a new eBook I will be releasing this month titled Paper Tigers and Impressing God: How To Be a Doer Who is Free.  I have dabbled in the podcast world, and I have a new podcast on the horizon.

 

What is your life scripture?

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

 

What are your passions?

Encouraging you to put hands & feet to your discipleship, so you can seek justice while you grow spiritually, is what delights my heart.  I'm passionate about the Great Commission, loving my husband, and loving my 3 (soon to be 4 through adoption) pretty great kids.

 

What is your favorite candy and / or food?

Dark chocolate, it's like normal chocolate at prescription strength.

 

Where is your happy place and what’s it like?

Standing in front of a stage, hearing live music. My brain is alive, and it is marvelous.

 

Are you working on any exciting projects that you can share about? If so, please share!

I have signed up for Write 31 Days, which begins October 1st, and I am using the challenge to launch a new project - a devotional podcast called DevoPod.

 

How can we pray for you as you prepare for this year’s conference?

Pray for my anxiety.  As an introvert/people pleaser, I get nervous!  Instead of being in my head, I want to be present and open to new opportunities and friendships that God will lead me towards.

 

Your turn!  What are you passionate about?  I'm dying to hear! Please comment & Let me know.

      A song for you as you go.

Day 31: Conclusion

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

Today has mainly been focused on life after #write31days.  Completing this big writing challenge was really cutting into our wearing clean clothes and having groceries in our cabinets.  Today I did laundry, ordered groceries, and did a full day of home school work with my 1st grader.  

I wrote about 20,000 words this month.  That's an accomplishment.

Even better is the fact that I feel much more confident in my understanding of this topic.  This topic isn't just some facts or trivia.  This topic is at the heart of my identity in Christ.

I feel more sure about my relationship with God after thinking through and writing this series.  I pray this series has helped your relationship with God as well.

Thank you for reading along!

 

Day 30: Running the race

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
— Philippians 3:12-16 ESV

I started this series with these wrong ideas (taken from my intro):

  • I thought I could impress God by being good and doing good.
  • I have been working my head off serving in ministry, and I felt like God would be disappointed in me if I didn't do well.

Here we are at day 30.  Have I achieved my goal of understanding how wrong these statements are?

I look at this verse in Philippians, and it is full of verbs that my try-hard, do-good heart loves.

  • press on
  • straining forward
  • toward the goal
  • hold true

Am I wrong to think we should let go of the striving?  Just look at this persuasive call to action?

My goal of this series was not to prove that we could stop doing things for God; it was to change the attitude of the doer.

Here are the things I wanted from this series (taken from my intro):

  • a clearer understanding of our relationship with God
  • a truer understanding of the God who created and loves us
  • a sounder theology
  • a humbler position
  • no longer driven to earn God’s approval or love
  • and no longer driven to impress God

I think if we look back a few verses in Philippians, we can see how these ideas are met before all the action takes place.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
— Philippians 3:7-11 ESV

Paul is saying that His righteousness only comes through faith in Christ.

In order to run the race, pressing on and straining forward, we must first know this truth.  Knowing this truth deeply, down in your bones, only comes with maturity as a Christian.  Maybe that is why verse 15 says, "let those of us mature think this way."

I pray that my striving to impress God has come to an end and that I can continue my race, maturely knowing that my righteousness only comes through faith in Christ.

I cannot earn a right standing with God through good works or good behavior (the law).  Faith in Christ is the only option.  As scripture says, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

 

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And a song...

Day 29: Commissioned

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

I, Paul, and my companions in faith here, send greetings to the Galatian churches. My authority for writing to you does not come from any popular vote of the people, nor does it come through the appointment of some human higher-up. It comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I’m God-commissioned. So I greet you with the great words, grace and peace! We know the meaning of those words because Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we’re in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God’s plan is that we all experience that rescue. Glory to God forever! Oh, yes!
— Galatians 1:1-5 The Message

As we come to the end of our series, I want to go back to the very beginning of Galatians.  (Yes, I know that is backward, but so much of studying the gospel is the opposite of the way the world works, so it fits.)

Paul lets the church at Galatia know where his authority for writing the letter, that is the book of Galatians, comes from.  The English Standard Version phrases it like this, "not from men nor through man."  The Message version takes a more poetic approach.  It says that it doesn't come from popular vote or higher-up appointment.  

Our media has been overly obsessed with popular votes and the appointments that the vote winner will have the authority to make.  Neither of these man-made authorities is necessary to have God's authority.

Instead, Paul's authority comes directly through Jesus.  The Message version says that he is God-commissioned.

Here's some good news.  You are God-commissioned too.

You have been commissioned with His authority to go into all the world proclaiming His message.

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
— Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

This is The Great Commission, and it is a calling we are all commanded to fulfill as a Christian.  In this commission, Jesus promises to be with us until the end of the age, basically FOREVER.

He is with us as we fulfill this mission.  We are not alone.  It is God's will that everyone should hear the gospel, and when we go, making disciples, we are joining the work God is already doing here on earth.

Here are some facts that might erase the fear you might have of being commissioned:

  • You are not alone.  The Spirit is with you.
  • You cannot mess up the job of making a disciple if the Holy Spirit is the only one who can draw hearts to God.
  • You cannot impress God by making a disciple because Jesus is the one who actually brought that sheep to Himself.
  • You cannot disappoint God when someone rejects God.  God knows everyone's heart already.
  • You are obeying God's call making disciples.
  • Your obedience pleases God.
  • God loves you no matter what.
  • Our relationship with God is only based on Christ, nothing else.

So go!  Make disciples!  Help others come to know Him.  Help others know Him more.  You are God-commissioned.

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And a song...

Day 28: Goodness

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
— Romans 8:28-30 ESV

This verse is a comfort as we abide in Him and live out the calling He has placed on each of our lives.  Whatever comes our way, every single thing, can be used for good.  We were chosen by Him, and we are called by Him.  We are made right with God, just as if we had never sinned through His blood, and some day we will be glorified in Heaven with Him.

God's Word also tells us that everything that is good is from God.  The absolute only way to have goodness in our life is to receive that goodness from Him.  Abiding in Him guarantees that our lives will be filled with His goodness.  Anytime bad things creep into our lives, God has the ability to make those bad things work for good, whenever we are called according to His purpose.

As we stay living His calling and abiding in Him, we allow Him to bring His goodness into our lives.

This all sounds so simple, doesn't it?  My work-hard, try-hard, striving nature causes me to worry that I'm not doing the right things to abide in Him.

What if I skip my Bible reading time too often?

What if I am mistaken about my calling?

What if I'm bad at remembering to pray?

All of these questions come from a place of fear, fear of not being "good enough" to be in a relationship with God and fear of not being "good enough" to be used by God.

We have to realize we have been justified by Christ.  Our faith in Him is what makes relationship and calling possible.  We don't have to be "good enough."  Jesus was perfect.  He is all we need.  We are justified.  

Our flesh want to lean into following rules and check boxes that will tell us that we are "good."  God just wants our faith.  We show that faith when we lean into Him to be our justification.  It was Abraham's faith that made him righteous.  It will be your faith that will make you righteous.

Because God offers this righteousness to us through His Son Jesus, we know God is so good.  Not only that, but everything God created is good.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.
— 1 Timothy 4:4-6 ESV

God invites us into good teaching and sharing the Good News with our friends and family by receiving goodness with thanksgiving.  This is our calling.  We have all been called in the Great Commission to make disciples.  We make disciples when we share the goodness of God's Word with the people in our life.

We will not be perfect disciple-makers; we are not Jesus.  But as we lean into abiding in Him, having faith in Him, sharing the truth of the gospel, and knowing we don't have to be "good enough," He will be faithful to bring goodness.

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Here's a song for you today.

Day 27: Abide

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
— John 15:1-4 The Message

Abiding in Him.  It is the key to everything we have been talking about.

If we live our live making our home snuggled down into Christ as our identity, as the Holy Spirit dwells inside us, just like the Holy Spirit dwelled inside that ark, inside the Holy of Holies, inside the tabernacle, then we will naturally avoid these paper tiger pitfalls we've been discussing.

It sounds impossible, but our goal is to live a life where you really can't tell where you end and Christ begins.  We live as heirs to the great inheritance.  We live as sons and daughters adopted into His family.  We live as servants, laying down our life for His will.  We gain life as we respect and submit to His will, following His example of servanthood.

Abiding in Him makes good works possible, and when we realize that we can do nothing on our own, we know our works can never impress God.  The work was always His.

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
— John 15:5-8 The Message

Abiding in Him is how we bear fruit.  We don't just behave ourselves, we actually have unnatural, unconditional love for our fellow humans.  We have joy on our worst days.  We have peace when the world is spinning out of control.  We have patience when we cannot muster it on our own.  We are outlandishly kind when the flesh wants to lash out.  Goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness become how we relate to our fellow Believers and the world.  We have self-control when our flesh is weak.

I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
— John 15:9-10 The Message

We are not on our own trying to avoid the fear of failing others and trying to avoid people-pleasing.  When we remember love is the goal, we know we should treat others with grace and truth, just as Jesus came and lived His life.  Grace and truth are only possible through abiding in Him.

We are not on our own hoping that our good works, our service in His Kingdom, will succeed and please God.  If we join in His work, as a friend and co-worker, we don't have to worry about pleasing Him.  He is pleased with His work.  His work succeeds, maybe not by worldly standards, but by Heavenly standards.



I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
— John 15:11-15 The Message

 

 

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A song for you.

Day 26: Credit

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

There is no limit to what a man can do who does not care who gains the credit for it.
— anonymous

A minister friend, Angel Martinez, like to change that quote to say, "There is no limit to what God could accomplish if no one cared about getting the credit."

We live in a time in history in which fame is easily accessible, and it is easy to blur the lines between ministry callings and celebrity.  It is called influence instead of fame because that sounds more spiritual.

No judgement from me.  I buy the books, follow on Twitter, take notes in the conferences, and listen to the interviews.  I do all the things.

As someone who has a dream to publish a Christian book, I wrestled with a lot of feelings surrounding this issue.  I've asked myself if I just want fame.  Do I want credit?

It is easy to see where this might be a question when it comes to producing media like a book.  The truth is that this is a question at every level of ministry.  Find the smallest town church, and I guarantee that the church staff and volunteers have concerns about getting credit for their gifts to the church, their good works in their community.  It is human nature to crave recognition.

It is a common occurrence to be recognized for a secular accomplishment and take credit for the remarkable achievement.  In many cases, the man or woman being honored knows the Lord, and he or she decides to give glory to the Lord for giving them life, talent, ability, and good timing to be recognized.  They realize it would be foolish to take credit when God has made everything about the moment possible.

In ministry, the disciple, whether he or she receives a paycheck from a church or not,  should also know that it would be foolish to take credit for any good work.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
— James 1:16-18 ESV

We should know that we, as humans, have absolutely no power to make someone receive Jesus.  The Holy Spirit must draw someone to Christ.  Christ must stand at their heart's door and knock.  This is a work of God, and we cannot manufacture it.

[Jesus said,] No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
— John 6:44 ESV

Works of God do not end at just salvation.  God is completely sovereign.  He makes all the decisions.  God is already at work in the world around us, in my community and in yours.  We can choose to join what He is doing.  God will sometimes ask us to join Him in what He is doing.  When we join Him, we work with God, but He is doing the work.  We will never know until Heaven how many believers have had a part in fulfilling God's plan.  Any victory for the Kingdom usually includes multiple seeds planted, multiple prayers, and a move of the Holy Spirit.  He deserves the credit.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
— Romans 11:36 ESV

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Here's a song.  Seriously, the 2000s were the best music.

Day 25: Audience

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

As I began writing this series, realizing how much I had wanted to impress God, the phrase "audience of one" began to sound wrong.

I really had to think about if I thought this was bad advice or not.  I went to the Bible to find some clarity.  Should we be doing everything for an audience of one, meaning God?

The verses I found on this subject seemed to be in two different categories, the work we do in a workplace and the work we do to serve others.

In the case of workplace work, the verse I found is actually addressing slaves.

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
— Colossians 3:22-25 ESV

Context matters.  This verse comes from a letter Paul wrote to the church in Colossus, and he had just asked wives to honor their husbands, husbands to love their wives, and children to obey their parents.  Even as a slave, we should not be people-pleasers.  We are to work, whatever the work may be, as if we are working just for God, even in the harshest of work conditions.

If we are taking orders at a fast-food restaurant, cleaning bathrooms, entering data into computers, stocking shelves, preparing reports, making sales, washing other peoples' clothes, or writing code, we should do the task in a way that pleases God.

The Message version of this verse is worth reading.

Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.
— Colossians 3:22-25 The Message

Another kind of work we do as Christians is good works.  When we serve others, we are commanded to do it for only the Lord as well.

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
— Matthew 6:1-2 ESV

These words are straight from the lips of Christ, and he warns us to avoid looking like a hypocrite by serving others in secret.  I've been serving others all of my adult life in ministry.  Serving in secret is easy some days, no one is watching because, honestly, no one cares.  Other days, it is not as simple.

My husband's job is to tell others about the work we are doing downtown in ministry.  He produces a tv show that has a large segment informing others of the ministry we are doing.  Our church couldn't serve the hundreds of families and children with just the tithes we receive on Sundays.  We have to raise money to fulfill the mission we have downtown.  We have never thrown fundraisers, but we have taken the approach of telling people what we are doing and then depending on God.  As we tell people what we are doing, God prompts them to give to our ministry.  We have been serving families and children in the neighborhood surrounding downtown for 20 years now.  This month marks 20 years of ministry, and the Amarillo Globe News came downtown to do a newspaper story on our church.

Is all of this non-secret ministry going against the words of Jesus?  I don't think it is.  God has used our tv shows, newsletters, and other media to provide for our ministry.

In some circles, there are public relation people employed to organize service by celebrities only for the recognition and nothing else.  That actually happens.  

I ask myself, "Would I stop doing this ministry if I was never recognized for it?"  And, "Does me telling others about my service actually go to encourage more service?"  And, "How do I feel about the service I've done where I am never recognized?  Am I still glad I did it?  Am I doing all of my good works with The Lord as my audience?"

The Message version of this verse says it this way.

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
— Matthew 6:1 The Message

I think the reason "audience of one" sounded off is that audiences usually applaud.  I've been in a lot of audiences at concerts and shows.  The audience is impressed with the performance that took place, and they whistle, yell, jump, and clap to show their appreciation.

God is not that kind of audience.  We should only be concerned with what God thinks of us, but we shouldn't be expecting applause.

He loves us.  He is pleased with us; He promises rewards in Heaven, but we cannot strive to impress God.

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I like to include a song with each blog post.  Here you go.