Let’s get off Justin Bieber’s Back

Let’s get off Justin Bieber’s Back

“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
    I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
    your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
    your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
    When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
    I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
    That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Amos 5

How do you respond to a passage like that?

How do you go back to the way you were before when you see that God is hungry for your worship and sick of your noisy ego music?

I have this overwhelming burden for my generation. I lay awake at night and wonder how to convey Jesus to people who are bitter and angry and turned off  by  church and Christians and even God.  I don’t know if I’m more upset at Christians or the world, but I think it’s Christians, because when people who don’t know Jesus rage and judge and condemn, they have no compass, but We Are the Light of the Freaking World. We should know better.

You may have heard me talk about Justin Bieber. His life is incredible to me. He’s hanging out with some of the most powerful, godly leaders of our time, legitimately trying to turn his life around, and if you bring him up in a religious setting, most people have nothing to say but horribly arrogant statements about how they’re praying he gets saved or, “God can use anyone, even  him.”

Hold up, who says he’s not already saved? Are we determining salvation now? Are we at the right of hand of God???

Oh, and what about, I’m glad can He use anyone, even ME, the chiefest of sinners?

Shouldn’t we all be shouting for joy because he’s hungry for Jesus, and finding the most unlikely, broken people to love back to life and give them the hope of a Savior who can heal addiction, bondage, sexual sin, etc??

I am burdened for unbelievers and I understand them just the same. We christ-followers can be a wicked little club, forgetting to marvel and weep in the miracle of our own salvation.

I am so easily drawn toward legalism, toward skirt lengths and rules, and I can’t believe she’s dating him and did he really just say that, and oh gosh did you hear they’re a  thing now, she is such a slut and wow he smells like straight tobacco and goodness, did she look in the mirror  before she left?

GOD HELP US. THE WORLD IS LITERALLY CRYING OUT FOR HOPE AND ALL I CARE ABOUT IS YOUR OUTFIT??

I am so slow to be humble, and to get the plank out of my own eye before getting the needle out of yours.

How can we do both? How can we live excellent, God honoring lives, and remain a judgment free zone? How can we hate sin with a passion, but love people deeply?

This is how. Remember, it is by grace we are saved, not of works, lest anyone boast…

How can we emphasize the importance of scripture without offending everyone?

Here’s the thing. We can’t do it. Grace is offensive. It disrupts our way of life, and reminds us we are not our own savior. Grace gets us off our facebook argument thread and on over to the coffee shop to love the person we somehow think we are better than. Grace convicts us before we can convict others. Grace says enough with your religious games.

We live in far too perilous times to be distracted by little things. The enemy is hoping and praying you get so entangled in being holier than thou that you forget you are just as desperate without the blood of Jesus.

What does Jesus want?

Justice, oceans of it.  Defend the voiceless, uphold the oppressed.

Fairness–rivers of it–be kind. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember where you came from.

Let’s focus on the main thing, Christ crucified, and his resurrection.

Nothing else matters.

 

Advertisements

You may not want to hear what I have to say 

You might not want to hear what I have to say. If you think there’s a chance, you might want to close the window. 

I want to say something though, even if it’s only for posterity, so I can look back one day and remember these days. 

What I see in my community is this: 

Throngs rallying around speculation, our first thoughts are thoughts of fear and dread, and our perspective is shaped by other misinformed Facebook statuses. 

I see people changing plans and living in fear over unknown consequences. I see people rushing to pray one particular day when we should have been praying all along. I see people valuing safety above all else. 

Are we called to be safe?

Are we not called to be little Christs, fearless in the face of evil, fervent in prayer daily?

Are we not called to align our hearts with the truth of God’s word rather than the statuses on Facebook?

Are we not called to rejoice in the day the lord has made and be glad in it–no matter the circumstances?

Are we not invited to live a life of fearless dedication to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, not the bad news of the newspaper?

Yes, we are to be informed. Yes, we should be wise as serpents. Yes we should not be foolish, but where do you draw the line, and is your information really fact, or mere opinion ?

I love that people gathered to pray last night. I hate that a life was lost. But I don’t know the whole story, and if that story can Shake me to my very core, I don’t know where my trust really lies.

  1. I’m not belittling concern over loved ones or concern for Thomasville, Im just sending out a question:: who is your Daddy ??

Don’t you think he’s got this?

Don’t you think the best weapon is joy? 

Don’t you think fear spreads like a cancer and if it means turning off Facebook for a while to get your perspective re centered, it’s worth it?

Don’t you believe God is able, just as able as he was the other day?

Don’t you think living in fear and trepidation is a slippery slope? 

Aren’t you looking forward with great expectation to the days ahead, grateful to your very core we are living in a time when our only hope is Jesus?

Have you considered what life is like for people around the world, how this multiplied by 100 might be their every day reality, with no hope of a just law enforcement system to defend them?

Who’s on the throne in your heart?

Why is there room for fear if he’s got the whole world in his hands?

If you think I’m not being realistic, then what should a Christian’s reality be?

Maybe it’s time to weep

I’ve been thinking about weeping. 
In John 11, Jesus loses a friend. He was close with Lazarus and his sisters. They had probably shared countless meals together, laughing and marveling at the world around them and what God was doing in their hearts. Jesus and Lazaurus may have shared their hearts as brothers over a flickering late night fire. They had most likely consumed their fair share of coffee and taken their fair share of hikes through the woods. They were friends. 
Then suddenly, Lazarus is gone. Now I know Jesus knows all things, so he knew he was going to resurrect his friend, so there is something about this story that simply wrecks me. He returns to Mary and Martha, who also know Jesus has the power to bring life to ashes, and they are livid. Why. Wasn’t. Jesus. There. When. We. Needed. Him. 

Overcome with grief, Jesus weeps. 
Now why did he weep if he was cooking up a resurrection plan the whole time??

Why didn’t he just pat the girls on the back and say “no worries, ladies. I’ve got this.” 

Why did he weep if he knew it was all going to turn out ok??
This morning, as I’m on the verge of tears about a million different things going on in my life, I am comforted knowing our savior and friend Jesus Christ of Nazareth wept–not just teared up –wept– over the loss of his friend he was planning to raise from the dead since the beginning of time. 
Maybe it’s ok to weep. Maybe it doesn’t mean we’ve given up hope. Maybe it doesn’t mean we’ve lost all faith. Maybe it merely means we have done all we can do and we need our Father to step in and do what only he can do. Maybe acknowledging the depth and the sorrow of our situation is part of God’s plan. Maybe it’s the point where we realize we need him more than ever to breathe life into our hopeless circumstances. 

Maybe you’re in the middle of a loss. A huge gaping hole is clawing at you, inviting you into its chasm, begging you to adopt an orphan mentality. 

Maybe there is literally nothing left you can do to fix your marriage. Maybe it’s time to sneak away with your Daddy and just weep. Maybe it’s in the tears we find out what our Father is capable of. 

I hate crying. I pride myself on only crying a few times a year. 
But maybe it’s time to let the tears fall and recognize my utter helplessness without the God of the universe stepping in and doing what only he can do. 

Remember, weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. 

https://youtu.be/f7NdBVTtvcg

Dear Church, I have some questions for you.

Dear  Church,

I have some questions for you.

A whole pile of you are really  miserable. Christian couples I admired throughout my childhood are divorcing right and left. After years of watching you have what I thought was a happy marriage, now I’m finding out you were pretending the whole time. You tell me marriage  is hard. I’ll understand one day. You say you felt like he was  dominating you. Is this all I have to look forward to? Losing my identity to a man? Is this what I’m saving myself for? An expensive wedding, a “really tough first  year,” kids before “I’ve gotten to know my husband well enough,” and then a marriage filled with really hard days, because God knows how many times you have told me “there’s nothing glamorous about marriage.”

Is this why you’re preaching abstinence with a fury in youth? Why wait if it’s nothing too special after all? Why don’t I just go out with the next guy who asks and start telling all my younger girls they should just go ahead and settle for  that guy who isn’t pursuing them like a man should?

Why am I even trying if half of y’all are getting divorced anyway?

Someone please tell me God’s plan is still good. Tell me he’s using  your marriage as a reflection of Christ’s sacrificial love for a bride who joyfully serves him in return.

Someone please tell these children of yours that children are a blessing and not a burden. Invite them into your church services and stop entertaining them like they are mindless creatures. Why would they stay in church when all they’ve ever been fed is a dumbed down coloring book gospel?

Church, please,  fight for your marriage and show us it’s worth it. Speak highly of your husband,  because we are watching you, and we are the future, and let me tell you, history has a way of repeating itself, so please  give us a legacy worth repeating.

Fight for your family,  demonstrate to me that having children is important, and not just a financial drain. Please, tell me there is more to parenting than being tired and grumpy.

Wives, could you please talk about your husband like you at least like him? Tell me I’m not guarding my heart so carefully now, just so I can marry a man who doesn’t communicate or clean up after himself.

Husbands, step up and lead your families and show me there are men out there who are truly a covering and a refuge and a head. Live in such a way I wait patiently because I KNOW there are more men out there that protect, provide and cherish their families.

Everybody’s all upset at millennials for walking away from God,  but y’all this started way back in grade school when we were watching and you had no idea. Give youth a faith they don’t want to walk away from.  Live what Jesus says and practice what you preach. Let’s all live like the Christians we say we are. The world doesn’t need more pretenders. We just need to see Jesus.
**I get it. There are hard days.  But are there good days too?

 

ps: I understand divorce has to happen sometimes and not every situation is black and white, this is merely a general appeal.

31620-church-hills.1200w.tn

I write this message to the church, not because it doesn’t apply to everyone, but because the body of Christ should look different from the rest of the world.

I’m a Writer. What Are You?

This may come as a surprise to you, but writing is really quite difficult for me.

Yes, you probably scroll past my lengthy instagram captions and doubt this heartily, but  it’s the truth.

Some of you know I am writing a book. I have been writing a book my entire life, it seems. My first story is written in a peach-colored notebook from Big Lots. I started writing it when I was probably ten. It was called Lydia’s Heart. In my child-like mind, it was going to be a hit. By the way, Lydia is still my  favorite name and will most likely be the name of my first daughter. But I digress.

Writing  is in my bones. It’s something I have to do. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not really a matter of  whether I love to write that keeps me coming back to my dunder mifflins. Writing is simply part of who God created me to be, and I have to do it like I have to breathe in and out each moment.

Is this making any sense?

There is something God put inside of you. Something that makes you, you. You feel alive when you do this, while simultaneously you find yourself terrified of what would happen if you totally devoted yourself to it. Would people like it? Would it be worth the cost, the sacrifice? It’s awfully difficult to be fully alive, doing what God created you do. It requires something grand of you. It requires you to be fully yourself, and be okay if not everybody likes your thing.

This book I’m writing is painful for me because it’s the story of my life, and it’s basically a lifelong journal of some incredibly profound experiences. It requires me to be all in, fully there, fully Sarah. 

Wouldn’t it be wild if God created his children, hardwiring with them fierce passions and skills and abilities, things which ignite your soul in a deep and raw way, and he intended you to use these things to reflect his glory to a world in desperate need of something, of someone authentic?

And wouldn’t it be crazy if that just terrified the enemy of our souls? If his greatest fear was us being fully alive, devoted to glorifying God through the things we love to do, the things we must do. What if he wanted nothing more than to deprive you of you?

If all this is true, I have to write, because it is my greatest weapon against a pathetic devil. You have to sing. You have to paint. You have to sculpt. You have to play the piano. You have to dance. You absolutely must do that thing, even when you are scared, especially when you are scared. People need to hear you. They need to see you. Fear is stupid.

I have recently stepped out in my other area of deep passion, which is Spanish interpreting.  I love it with all my heart, and I am terrified of failing at it. But guess what, I’m doing it. And it’s building my faith in huge ways. It’s helping me see I’m more capable than I thought I was. Only by the grace of God. Only  through his power. All for his glory.

 

Do that thing.

I’m a writer. What are you?

35311-funny-writing-quotes.jpg

The Mission Trip Myth

The Mission Trip Myth

So I went, and I’ve come back again. My heart is full to overflowing with hope for Honduras. My time there was sweet like mangoes and deep like coffee and hard like rain.  Reunited with friends and family over tortillas and hot coffee and served together the amazing Honduran community.

Th time I spend in Honduras is my favorite time of year. Do you know what it’s like to be surrounded by love on all sides? To be encouraged and supported and challenged every minute of the day? This is what a trip  to my sweet place looks like.

Many of you have remarked on my trips, and I have to say, i’ve  taken offense as you’ve asked about my mission trip. I repent even now for this spirit of offense, but here’s why.

This is the mission trip myth….

Mission trip? That’s like asking how a charity project went when you were really just spending the day with your best friends..

Mission trip? More like family reunion with people I would literally  give my life for.

Maybe I’m the one with a messed up idea of a bunch of people in neon t shirts going to Haiti to save the world, but friends, it’s so much more than a one week trip to another country. It’s about saying yes to God and letting him break your heart for people all over the world. This is not a mission trip high that fades a week after you land. No, it changes your whole life. It redefines your idea of wealth and poverty and success and failure. It makes your world bigger and introduces you to family you didn’t know you had.

I want you all to dive into the world of overseas travel and find out what a mission trip really is.

It’s not just one week a year. It’s a whole life surrendered. Send me, I’ll go…

It seems kind of silly this terminology would offend me so much, but I think I know why it does.

It breaks my heart that people automatically assume the only  reason I would visit this beautiful country is because I was helping the poor. It breaks my heart that people scoff at the very concept that someone would come to the USA on a mission trip.

I want you to know a few things:

You need to go somewhere far away from your home. You need to make friends in other nations. You need to join your heart and your church with what God is doing in another part of the world. I would love for that to be Honduras, but you ask God where you should go. 

This is not about “giving back” or fulfilling a service requirement or anything like that. This is about living, truly living, and being obedient to God’s voice.

I want you to know that people are people everywhere, and poverty  doesn’t define us just like wealth doesn’t.

I want you to be in a little church with two light bulbs singing songs in  other languages, knowing this is what heaven has got to feel like.

I want you to know safety is an illusion, and your desire to stay here for fear of danger is robbing you of the best days of your life.

I want you to know my best friends in all the world live in Honduras and their country is full of promise and hope and people who are hungry for Jesus. It is my deep privilege to know them and be a voice for their cause. 

I want you to know going to Honduras is not like going on a mission trip. It’s like  going home.

And  finally, I want you to go. 🙂

 

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

19601161_1581438345233893_2879218227577360381_n19554217_1581438025233925_4264790597475545887_n19554150_1581436491900745_2123657783534543727_n19554086_1581435998567461_2579316666427844236_n19553996_1581436375234090_5125865116068885533_n19510218_1581440965233631_4640995783341073780_n19437285_1581440718566989_6700120076189782274_n19430164_1581435885234139_5318827302222860156_n14591682_1581437011900693_7789631849711920943_n

Why I Haven’t Moved to Honduras Yet

Why I Haven’t Moved to Honduras Yet

This week, in four days to be exact, I am getting on a plane and going back to Honduras. For the sixth time. Many of you know this. If you know me even a little bit, you probably know I love this nation. It comes up quickly in conversation, like mothers bringing up their children.

What do you enjoy doing?

Oh, I enjoy going to Honduras and anything having to do with Spanish or children.

Oh wow, that’s really cool. Why don’t you move there?

Nervous laughter.

Well, I’ve tried to before, but it’s never been God’s timing.

I have  had this conversation more times than I  can count, and looking at it on paper makes my answer feel even weaker.

Why haven’t I just pushed through all the obstacles  and moved there! Other people do it?! Why have I allowed my life to be ripped like a sheet in two complete halves? One in the USA, at home in Thomasville with my family, with the nice car and the white picket fence dream, and one in Honduras with dirty feet and a cotton skirt, surrounded by children, doing what I feel like I was born to do. Why. Why why why am I leading two different lives. In a few days I will be back in this place that feels like home to me, and I will drink up every moment there and probably ask God lots of questions. And then  I will get on a plane and come back home, and wonder why I’m coming back and how long will I have to wait before I go back. And slowly, I will acclimate to life in the states agin, and my memories will dim and I will  feel the pull of the so called American dream, and I will think, I would much rather be here. This is easy. This is safe. This is home.

And then the cycle will begin again.

So why am I telling you this? Why are you getting this open heart look at my life? Because I want you to know why I haven’t moved to  Honduras and why it may be why you haven’t moved into that thing, whatever it is for you.

Quite simply, it’s not time.

There is nothing especially profound about this.

Someone asked me the other day why I’m still in Thomasville, and if I’m “ever going to leave.” As if leaving Thomasville is to be equated with success.

There is this underlying suspicion in our modern society of what success is. How much money we are supposed to have. What degree we should have. How many children we should have. What kind of car we should drive. Where we should work. What clothes we should wear. The list goes on. At times, I feel like I’m doing pretty well on this list, but most of the time I feel way off. My life doesn’t fit into a box, and I can’t seem to stuff it in one no matter how hard I try.

My life is not my own. I am not here for earthly success. I’ve known since I was a little girl, my life was not going to be like other people’s lives.

I listen to my Father, and He guides my steps.

He is not a tame lion.

I’ll go ahead and tell you right now, following Jesus makes for one adventurous life.  I used to live for the five year plan, now I’m all about the tomorrow plan.

I don’t know why God has me here in Thomasville, working with mom, living at home at 24, but I know I’m in the right place. I don’t know why I love Honduras so much, and why I have this deep need to see the entire world,  but I do.

I encourage you to get alone with God and figure out what makes you tick. What do you love so much it hurts?

Now give it to Him. Give your whole heart to Him. This is what is to be a Christian. It’s saying, “I don’t understand all this, God, but I’m giving it you. It’s ok with me if no one understands. If my life looks like a failure to everyone around me. If it looks like nothing is going on.  If my dreams appear to be dead, that’s ok God, because I trust you and I KNOW you are GOOD, and you are writing a beautiful story. I’m happy here, because I know I’m in your will. I don’t get it, but you do.”

So I don’t know what God is up to, or why I’m not there, or where my life is going, or how this trip is going to go.

I know I love the nations, I can’t figure out a career besides telling people I love Spanish and the world and oh yeah, I want to have 8 children.

I can’t explain how I know what God is saying, I just know. I  invite you to begin a conversation with Him. Especially if you are feeling restless and unhappy.  I don’t know what he will tell you. But you should listen. Because you will be in for the ride of your life.

 

 

And here’s an example of living  your life, doing your thing, and then all of the sudden, bam, everything changes and God changes history and invites you, lowly shepherd, to be on the  front row. So when you get an answer from him, don’t be afraid. And when people question you, tell them I AM sent you.:)

 

EXODUS 2

 

 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb,the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: IMG_1190

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
    the name you shall call me
    from generation to generation.

16 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’