Don't Give Up!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015  ::   9 important comments

Recently, I read an article about memorizing scripture being an outdated idea. The author basically said it was an old-fashioned discipline limiting our ability to dig deep into scripture. Poor thing. I think he's altogether missing the point.

Listen, if you are still memorizing bible verses to get a star on your chart, then you'll be sad to know there is no chart. (Side-note: Don't teach your kids to memorize scripture for a prize. Please.)

If you are memorizing verses to check a to-do list box, then a check mark will be your only profit.

If you are memorizing scripture without deeply pondering what the words mean, then you are just being religious.

If you are memorizing scripture to puff up your big old fat head with knowledge, then you are only acting like a big old fat pharisee.

I've had my fair share of people tell me that they really see no use for taking in scripture in this way. When I was younger I would argue with them, hoping to compel them into submission. But now, I nod my head and pray they will come to the end of their excuses.

You've heard me say about a jillion times taking in God's word through memorizing and meditating throughout my college years transformed my life. The Spirit used it to remove the shame I walked in (Psalm 3:3), quiet my loud mouth (Proverbs 10:19), show me that he loves me deeply (John 15:13), and teach me that nothing compares to knowing and following him (Philippians 3:8).

I hope you know I don't believe this is the only way to take in scripture, but that it is one part of the whole of allowing God's word to be in you, to be part of your heart, mind, and soul. (Psalm 119:11) Please read, study, listen to, meditate on, and even sing about scripture. The reason we share the verses we are memorizing with each other on this blog is to encourage accountability, commitment, and togetherness. To be honest, some of you are so disciplined that it doesn't matter one little bit if anyone else is on the journey with you. You'll just keep forging ahead. But then there are people like me. I may be able to make myself stay disciplined for awhile, but when I want to quit, or I'm lazy or tired, it helps me to know I'm not alone...even in scripture memory.

In January, I announced that we would be memorizing two verses a month together and more than a dozen people jumped on board. (Women AND men, btw. Drives me crazy when people call this a woman thing.)  But, in April, just four short months later, less than half of the original group posted their verses. Now, I'm not going to assume this means you've fallen off the wagon. Are you still reading and taking in God's word? Yes? Good. Take it one step farther. Are you still training yourself to memorize two verses per month? Yes? Good. It greatly encourages all of us if you will kindly share with us what you are memorizing. It challenges me/us to keep going. It gives me/us ideas of what to memorize next. It allows me/us to pray for you in your own disciplines. It shows me/us that we aren't alone.

As for me, I'm still working on the 2 Timothy 3 passage. Honestly, the list of destruction in verses 2-4 is still hard for me to remember, so I've moved on to the real meat of the passage, so now I'm solidifying 6-7.

2 Timothy 3:6-7 
For among them are those that creep into households and capture weak-willed women, burdened with sins, and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. 

Which is why I want us to be people of the Word of God! I don't want to be a weak-willed human led astray, learning a bunch of stuff that the world shoves in my face. I plan to continue to use God's word stored up in my heart and mind to arrive at the cross of Christ, considering everything a loss compared to the greatness of knowing, truly, experientially, knowing Him.

It's time. Please post your verses! Let's do this thing together!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good for in the proper time we will reap a harvest 
if we do not give up. 

Let me encourage you with this disclaimer: all the references and verses shared in this post are from memory. This is not a prideful brag, but a loving encouragement of 'look how God has shaped my mind.' 

Blessings through God's word to you as you keep up the good work! 

Participating or Spectating

Monday, April 27, 2015  ::   5 important comments

In Chad's message on Sunday, he talked about the importance of living out our faith with community. Hebrews is full of instruction for believers to encourage one another, to be hospitable to each other, to love each other like family members. The DeSoto family is all of this and more for my family. I love all of them so much. 

For my readers who don't live in Tucson, Angela is on staff with Second Mile as our very gifted worship leader. The woman can sing like nobody's business. But her beautiful voice pales in comparison to her heart to see Jesus magnified and glorified. The Spirit of God has gifted her to lead people musically to worship him, but also in working out their faith in their everyday lives. By all good definitions, Angela is a leader. I'm blessed to call her friend and privileged to work with her in ministering to our church. 

Not too long ago during our staff meeting, Angela began to share with us how she was challenging the people she leads to use Chad's message series through Hebrews to deepen her personal bible study. I loved what she was sharing so much, so I blurted out, "Would you be willing to write a guest post about this?" But, then we never really talked about it. This week she emailed these great words to me. 
If there were anyone Angel could’ve asked to write on this topic that would feel completely inadequate, it would be me.  Couldn’t she have asked me to write a post about how to style hair? I would knock that one out of the park. However inadequate I may feel, I am willing to share my experience and hope that for someone out there it will encourage you to approach the word with refreshed resolve. 

Over the last couple of months I have had several conversations with women within Second Mile on the topic of studying the bible and daily “quiet times” (how did that name ever come about? I think it’s dumb). The concern these women were having was that it was hard to know where to start, how to connect their study time with other areas of their lives, and how it felt daunting in light of receiving so much great content on Sundays from Chad and not always digging as deep as they could there first. Beginning another study in the bible seemed overwhelming.

On Sundays we come and participate in taking in the word. We don’t allow someone to spoon-feed us. We have to be active participants to fully grab all that we can out of it. That’s why we don’t call our Sundays a service, it is a gathering and there is a call to participation that can’t be ignored. With that, if we want to really dive into the depths of the word we have to be note takers. This is not a judgment towards anyone who doesn’t do this, but I personally would only get out a fraction of what I do if I didn’t take notes – again, I am a participant, not a spectator. What then do I do with those notes? Wait until an hour before community group starts to crack open my journal again so I can conjure something up before discussion starts? No. There is so much more to dissect there. We are truly missing out if we are limiting our study of the message to only Sunday and community group. 

What I have been trying to make a discipline and have been encouraging these other women to do as well is to take the chapter we are going to study on Sunday and read it through before Chad teaches on it. I read it multiple times. Then after the teaching I read it again. I read through my notes and my questions and read the chapter once more. I cannot tell you how much I get out of the scriptures when I develop meaningful repetition.  There is light shone on areas of scripture that I otherwise would’ve overlooked until I slowed down and chewed on the scriptures this way.

One night last January, John and I awoke to our 12 year old telling us there was smoke in her room. We couldn’t find the cause, called 911, and waited outside. While waiting we could see the amount of smoke slowly increase. When the firemen arrived they went through their routines to do an initial assessment of the situation. They went into the house, came out and reassessed. They did this several times and then got on the roof and decided whether or not they would have to go through the attic. They worked intensely but strategically until they found the root cause. They didn’t go in and just start spraying water everywhere assuming they knew what was going on because they know fire. Nor did they wait outside too afraid of the unknown inside. They are trained to be strategic and planned but to also not miss anything. This is how we should approach the word daily and use the incredible teaching we have been given to plan, strategize, dig in, read again and again, and find every nugget of truth out of it that we can. Is this done all in one day? No, take the time to move throughout scripture through the week with patience, eyes to see, and ears to hear. 

The last point I want to encourage with is how much I have enjoyed pulling verses out of the chapters we are studying in the gathering to memorize for the month as I am involved with Moxie Memorizers. This has been incredibly enriching and beneficial and I look forward to continuing this approach for a while.  

What is your approach to studying the word? Do you find it easy to compartmentalize what the Sunday teachings are with what you are studying on your own? Or have you found a rhythm of going deeper throughout the week in the study offered us through Chad’s teachings? Whatever your approach I pray the word continues to be living and active and sharp in your life. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you, Angela! I pray God uses your words to push us all to know Jesus more through actively participating and engaging in his word! 

Please leave some comment love for Angela. Answer her challenging questions with your thoughts. 

I pray you experience great blessings through God's active and alive Word! 

Sweet Contentment

Tuesday, April 21, 2015  ::   12 important comments

I'm a little late to the Bob Goff party. But, from what I know about Bob after hearing him speak, meeting him a couple of times at the IF: Gathering, and reading his book, I don't think he would like me saying, "The Bob Goff party," and then I think he would tell me I'm right on time.

Many of my friends have read Love Does, and they've told me how much they enjoyed it. But, I'm not sure I would have been able to say, "I enjoyed it" if Bob hadn't wrapped it up beautifully in the end. It was an easy read concerning his style of writing. His stories made me want to turn each page. The way he strings words together creates beautifully organized whimsey. But, I have to say the actual content was getting to me, stirring me up a bit, making me ask the question I often ask myself: What in the heck am I doing with my life?!?

Jumping on planes to teach his kids about leadership and friendship, inviting John Ashcroft to be part of changing lives, starting schools in another country, freeing children from wrongful imprisonment, and so many other cool things. Bob Goff has been a busy man! Now don't get me wrong, it is apparent he is a humble leader and an excellent story teller. He would never have written these anecdotes to guilt anyone into doing anything. He simply wrote out some beautiful life experiences to challenge us all to love people like Jesus loves people.

But, I have a problem. I've written about it so many times on this blog. Reading books by people who are changing the world in huge ways, or watching a TED talk by Gary Haugen, International Justice Mission's president, or reading biographies of people like William Wilberforce creates a fuzziness in my heart, and I start to lose focus on what God has asked me to do. I even had a teary conversation with Chad about it at lunch today. I say things like, "If violence is the cause of poverty, what in the world can I do/am I doing to help break the chains of oppression??" Chad is so patient with me and my passion.

Tonight as I finished the last chapter of Love Does, my heart beat the words in my chest, "What do I do now?"

Bob Goff must have known I would ask that question, and in the second sentence of the epilogue he said he would be asking the same thing if he finished reading a book like this one. And then he told me to figure out the next step, and then do that. Do you know that is the exact same thing I heard at the IF: Gathering in February? My big picture mind and heart can so easily get lost in the forest, meanwhile, I need to remember I've been on a rigorous, beautiful hike in the trees investing in women for quite sometime. I would like to believe I've learned great things about loving people the way Jesus loves people on this hike he's mapped out for me. It's funny really. In reading/watching great work like this, my heart and mind swell with zeal, passion, and fervor for charging the hill. And then God whispers in my ear, "Keep going, don't quit, take the next step." These sweet words destroy the let down from the potential lies I tell myself I'm not doing enough. Instead, I'm given sweet contentment and direction.

"However, I consider my own life worth nothing to me, if only I can finish the 
race and complete the task the Lord Jesus given me, the task of testifying to the gospel 
of God's grace." Acts 20:24 

I've got some big direction at this point. Bob said the next step is as easy as a phone call, an email, or just showing up and then things will start happening. That's what I'm going to do. And good news! One next step is to get this book into your hands. Isn't it fun to read a book that is easy to read, yet is full of rich content? So, I'm giving a copy away. If you already have this book, but would like to win one to give to a friend, feel free to enter. (I actually purchased the second book for my pal, Andrew Ling, who so very much reminds me of Bob Goff. But Andrew has been at the Bob Goff party for awhile, so I'm giving a copy away in honor of Andrew. I think he would want you to read this good stuff.)

To enter, leave a comment about a next step God is asking of you in your journey of faith. Be specific or broad, but make sure it isn't too 'Christian-y'. I want to hear your real words from your real heart. I'll draw a winner in a week or so.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In what ways are you being challenged to put action to your love for people? What is the next step you will be taking in your faith journey? Do you plan to read this book? Do you want to win this book? Leave some comment love. 

Many blessings to you as you pour out the love of Christ on those you encounter today! 

Worn Out

Thursday, April 02, 2015  ::   8 important comments

I've been pretty out of it this week. I told Chad I felt one of three possibilities may be happening.

     1. My 'bucket' (what I pour out of to do all the stuff I do) is empty.
     2. Hormonies were making me fuzzy and weird.
     3. Residual stroke effects (Dr said it would happen) could be causing fatigue.

Or what if it was a combination of all three? Or what if it's been allergies or I'm catching a cold? Or what if I was just being a wimp?

Bleh. That's it. Just Bleh.

Do you ever feel that way? I wish I could just go, go, go sometimes but I can't. And guess what...God knows I can't, that you can't, that he didn't create us to go, go go all the time.


Come to me all who labor and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  ~Matthew 11:28 

Even youths will grow tired and weary, and young men will stumble and fall. ~Isaiah 40:30

For I will satisfy the weary soul. ~Jeremiah 31:25

My soul finds rest in God alone. ~Psalm 62:1 
Sometimes I just need rest for no explanation at all. It's difficult for me to admit, mostly because I may not have anything to show for what is zapping my energy. However, I'm continually needing to grow in the area of resting in Jesus. Reading a book that is just fun. Taking a nap in the middle of my day off. Skipping exercise for the day. Baking cookies to give to some friends. Rest.

A friend of my shared an excellent verse with me yesterday that encouraged my soul. I'm going to commit it to memory. Does anyone else need to meditate on this?


I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I went about the king's business. ~Daniel 8:27 

Yes! Exactly! Worn out and lay exhausted for a few days. But then we get up and go about King Jesus' business.

I haven't been very productive in output this week. But I'm simply taking a break, getting ready to go about the King's business.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What are you memorizing right now? What scripture is God using to speak to your heart lately? How are you feeling right now? Ready to go or needing rest? 

May your heart, mind, body, and soul find rest in Jesus! 

Claw Foot Bathtubs and K Awards

Sunday, March 15, 2015  ::   18 important comments

Third grade ate my lunch. I spent my kindergarten through second grade years in a small school in the thriving metropolis of Kermit, TX, population 8,000 or so. My family was blessed enough to move into a bigger house across town (a whole mile or so) which meant I would have to transfer to the other elementary school, Purple Sage, aka Purple Prison. I don't know why the kids called it that because I'm sure it was a lovely school with lovely teachers, but I was convinced. I would begin the third grade in prison away from the friendships I had obviously worked diligently as a 5-7 year old to cultivate, and by cultivate, I mean sharing my crayons and chasing boys on the playground.

To be a little braggy, I was a top dog my first three years of school. I know for a fact I was one of Miss Lemon's favorite little first graders. She had an awesome claw foot bathtub full of pillows in her room, and if you got the most papers on the board for a week you could take your rest time in the tub. It was so fantastic. (Sometimes I wonder if she ever washed those pillows. Can anyone say head lice? *shudder*) I received so many awards my first grade year that she started coming up with new, exciting ways to treat me, such as drinking a coke out of the bottle while sitting in the school office. Let me tell you a first grader in 1980 felt pretty darn awesome with a reward like that.

I didn't, however, receive the title of teacher's pet in second grade. With Mrs. Riley probably no one did. We sat in rows and dared not utter a word. I'm convinced she's started me down the track of my fear/hatred of math. Let's just say she didn't really want to help me understand how parenthesis work in an equation, but that's for another story. However, in Kermit, TX in the 1980s at the end of every school year, teachers passed out these beautiful certificates called K Awards, and Mrs. Riley thought I deserved the best handwriting award plus a couple of other acknowledgments. In first grade, Miss Lemon gave me a stack of K Awards. So, in first and second grade my desire to achieve for recognition was born.
Can't you just imagine how funny and cute it must have been seeing me belt out "I AM A PROMISE" at the top of my lungs during the talent competition of the Miss Cinderella Pagent? I think my mom may be the only one on the planet that would defend how amazing I actually was.
2nd Grade, I think, but maybe 3rd grade based on the awesome pair of grown-up teeth that seem to be making their debut.
But, this surely is 3rd Grade, maybe. But that short suit... don't be jealous. 
Third grade, however, was a whole new playing field. "Thankfully" (kind of) I had a "friend" (kind of) from church in my class. Truth be told, I was pretty much jealous of her because I fully believed she could do everything better than me... roller skate, sing in our kids' choir, memorize bible verses, all the important little kid things. And "thankfully" she sat right in front of me in our row on the first day of third grade. She thought it would be a good idea to turn around and tell me all the things, and therefore, our teacher thought it would be a good idea to write our names on the board as a lesson to the whole class that chatty brats would not be tolerated. And I cried. I had never in all my life been in trouble in school. Purple Prison lived up to its name on the very first day of school.

In third grade, I struggled to make friends, didn't win any class competitions, rarely had a paper put on the board, peed my pants in class, and didn't receive a single K Award. I most definitely thought I deserved something. I mean, I had achieved in first and second grade. How could I have been so overlooked in third grade? It was a rough life for a 9 year old. The struggle was real, folks. Do not doubt it. 

Recently I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Austin for the IF: Gathering. In the first session, one of the speakers prayed very strongly for God to speak to all of us, "to give us a word." Simultaneously in my heart, I was telling God that if he had something specific I would listen, but that he owed me nothing and I would be content to be in his presence. But do you know what he did for me? Gave to me in very specific, personal ways. He is a good, good Father. 

Throughout my life I've been a hard worker, sometimes for the sake of hard work and sometimes for the sake of what I could gain, whether an award or a friend or a pants size. But, God showed me during IF that through the years of my life, what seemed to be an independence or an indifference to people's response to me was actually a wall of protection I had built because of life's disappointments. 

You see, I believe it's all connected. What happened to us as children certainly affects how we interact with the world as adults. God showed me that as a nine year old I began to believe the lie that I was overlooked. One would think that something so seemingly insignificant wouldn't affect me, but one would be wrong. As God was gently revealing this to me, I saw glimpses of how I responded to situations in middle school, high school, college, and even now, of how I played off being "overlooked" like a cool cat. I had let a corner of my heart become hard and stoney. 

The ironic truth is that I am overlooked by people quite often. As God was working in my heart during one powerful song, he was revealing to me that through all the overlooking, I had begun to believe that he was also overlooking me in order to use other friends, other leaders, and other churches. Through his kindness he was breaking the chains on my life by whispering to me that I belong to him, he knows my name, he uses my gifts, he has me in the place he chose for me. 

Please know I haven't been walking around for the past 33 years trying my hardest not to be overlooked. The rotten fruit of this lie recently showed up in my life by way of a discontentment in wondering if I was doing enough or even if I was enough. I found myself constantly looking to the left and to the right to see what others were doing, and to see if anyone was looking at me. It was exhausting, and most definitely robbed me of contentment and joy. What he showed me that day in Austin is that he is enough. Now I've known this in my head for years. With my hands lifted high I could honestly and loudly sing all the songs telling him that he was enough for me. But the beauty of rich, God-revealed living is that he not only wants us to know his truths in our heads, he wants us to experience them in our lives. Through the power of his Spirit, he was moving this grace from my head to my heart, so I could live it, believe it, and proclaim it. Such sweet relief.   

To wrap up the weekend at IF, we each wrote our step of faith (where and what) to show how we would respond to what God spoke to our hearts. I wrote: My place is Tucson, and my step is to believe that I'm not overlooked and to lead my people with as much love as I can give. Honestly, I think I've been loving them strongly for a really long time. But, I also know that I've reserved the stoney part of my heart for self-preservation for when someone leaves, or gives harsh critique, or chooses someone else over me. And guess what! People will leave. I will receive harsh critique. Others will be chosen over me. But as much as I know I would not overlook my children for someone else, I know God doesn't overlook me. And as much as I know my children aren't meant to do everything all the time, I know God does not mean for me to take on responsibility that he hasn't given me. And as much as I want my children to find their niche and be filled with such great joy while maintaining soft, pliable hearts, God wants me to love where I'm serving, love the gifts he's given me to use, and to allow him to mold and make my heart more and more like his. 

Interestingly enough, when I returned to Tucson, I heard from my women that I love to lead, that they missed me. They, too, wrote on rocks while engaging in the simulcast of IF, and they left their pile of rocks on my desk which was a beautiful display of their love for me. I use the words on their rocks to pray for them by asking God to give them strength, perseverance, and joy as they take their faith steps. 

Friends, even if the people around us, people we think should see us, people we long to know can't seem to even remember our names, God never ever overlooks his children. He doesn't seek to give us a job or a platform or a best friend or a spouse or the perfect house to prove he remembers us. He has already given Jesus and his Spirit to prove that we've not been overlooked. He is fully available to us. We no longer need to look to the left or to the right to see what others are doing or to see if they are looking at us. We only need to look to straight ahead to the face of God. 


So, if you made it this far, congratulations! This lengthy thing is more like a chapter of a book than a blog post. Thanks for hanging with me until the end. As a reward (ha, see what I did there?) I'm doing a little give away. To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. Answer one of the following questions and then at the end of the week, I'll draw someone's name. 

I'm giving away Donald Miller's new book Scary Close. It is so, so good. I read it in a couple of days, and if you know my slow reading abilities that should tell you how good it is! Mr. Miller will challenge you in your ideas of vulnerability and relationships. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will read it again.

Leave comment to enter because you want this book. I promise.  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What have you been learning lately? Did anything I shared resonate with you? In what ways do you see you are God's beloved? In what ways have you seen the connectedness of your life? 

Many blessings in your faith steps! 

Determined Discipline

Sunday, March 01, 2015  ::   10 important comments

Through the years I've started and not finished many hobbies from photography to learning to play the bass or the banjo. You see, I'm an ideas person. I can have ideas until the cows come home. Lately, my mind as been swimming with so many potential good visions. Sometimes I wish I could simply put the ideas in a bowl, add some sugar, flour, and eggs, pour them into a pan, and turn them all into completed accomplishments.

A couple of the ideas I've had I really want to see through. But they are both BIG ideas. It will take so much prayer and discipline. And I'm a little scared. Actually, so scared that I don't even want to tell anyone about them because I'm afraid I can't accomplish them, and then I will feel flakey or worse, like a failure.

But, at the same time I'm so thankful for new thoughts and plans. When I was in my 20s, I heard someone say that most people stop learning new things when they are in their 30s and just coast to the end of their lives living off the few years of accumulated head knowledge they've managed to gain. It alarmed/pushed me into determined discipline to position myself as a learner for the rest of my life. Notice the words: determined discipline. Learning can sometimes begin accidentally, but it must continue with effort and intentionality. Continued ideas, vision, and direction are some sweet fruits of learning.

As you might have guessed it, I believe learning for a follower of Jesus begins with time spent in the Bible. Reading it, hearing it, studying it, meditating on it, and of course, memorizing it. I hope those of you that are joining in this accountability group are not just spending time memorizing verses. You will be one lopsided person if that is all you are doing. You must take this one ingredient and mix it will all the other aspects of taking in His Word to grow into an accomplished learner full of vision and ideas from Jesus.

Do you have the notion that all of this should be easy? Were you hoping that taking in His Word and obeying would come automatically or naturally? Did you know it would take effort? Listen, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. But the truly challenging and changing stuff of life takes real work. The gate is narrow, not just for the Kingdom, but for many good things in this life. So keep up the good, hard, soul-changing work! You will continually reap the fruit of learning, my friends. I know it to be true.

I'm still working on 2 Timothy 3:1-7. I have verses one through four down, but five is still tripping me up, so I'm going to keep working on it. I'm hoping to have the whole passage down by the end of the month because six and seven will be easy for me to remember. If you've been around me at all, you've heard me get preachy about these two.

2 Timothy 3:6-7 
For among them are those that creep into households and capture weak-willed women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of truth. 

Which that last phrase puts a whole new aspect onto being a learner, doesn't it? To be a faithful-to-Jesus learner, we must fix our eyes on Him or we "learn" all kinds of things but never arrive at the knowledge of the TRUTH! That makes me shiver. I don't want the ways of this dark world to worm their way into my mind, heart, or home. I want to be a learner with ideas, vision, and direction from the Spirit of God!

Now it's your turn. Please post the verses you are memorizing and/or studying.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Do you see yourself as a teachable person? In what ways do you learn from God and from others? What have you been learning lately? 

May your life be enriched through determined discipline, my friends! 

To Build Up or Destroy, the Choice is Yours

Wednesday, February 11, 2015  ::   5 important comments

**trigger warning**

There is so much from the world that comes against purity and holiness and marriage. I spent some time reading through the stats of how many people have read 50 Shades of Grey and how many people are expected to see the movie and my heart and head just hurt. To live in a time where women and children are sexually exploited, where children are abused, where story after story of rape on college campuses with very little done to prosecute and punish abound, yet books and movies like this become best sellers absolutely astounds me. I cannot for the life of me understand why any women at all would want to subject herself to such insidiousness.

I can already hear some of you asking why I would have such a strong opinion without having read the book. Well, first, I'm not stupid or naive. I've read the reviews and anything that promotes the domination of women in sex is not uplifting or treasuring to us which I know is not God's design. Second, I do not have to drink arsenic to know it will kill me. Third, I've been married to one man who deeply treasures me for 20 years. The intimacy between us is far greater than anything the distorted world has to offer. There you have it: I'm not stupid, I don't drink poison, and my marriage is healthy, which I believe, gives me a voice you should heed.

Friends, please, please do not be weak-willed in your faith and understanding of who God desires for you to be. Do not give into filling your heart, mind, and soul with this movie.

Marriage takes real work. It requires honesty, integrity, communication, commitment, selflessness, understanding, compassion, diligence, and much, much more. What's interesting is so much of what happens in a marriage can be viewed by friends, neighbors, family. How you keep your house, how you parent your children, how you spend your money, even how you bicker and argue can be observed by others. But, there is one thing that is for you and your spouse only, one private aspect of your marriage that should include absolutely no one else.

Sexual intimacy was created for two people who have covenanted together to spend the rest of their days living life in such a way that displays and gives witness to how Jesus Christ loves the church. 

Because marriage was created to show the world how much Jesus loves us, Satan (the DLB), a very real and present enemy absolutely hates marriage. He continually shows how he seeks to destroy us. If genuine intimacy was created to be experienced between one man and one woman, he is doing his best to steal, kill, and destroy it. Again, abuse, exploitation, perversion in the form of pornography all set themselves up to be the exact contradiction to what intimacy is meant to be.

And, the DLB is cunning. He knows that many of us believe we are strong enough to withstand abusing someone or becoming addicted to porn, so he creates subtle distortions through stories that appeal to humanity, to our thirst for relationships, attention, fantasy. A racy make-out scene here, a Car'ls Jr/Hardy's commercial there. A TV show where 25 single women make out with the same guy here, or a mall store with boobs and underwear in our faces there. It is everywhere and we buy it hook, line, and sinker... but slowly, not knowing that we are being boiled in our own pot of hypocrisy, numbness, and smut.

One verse that has been so wrongly used in the Christian sub-culture world of dating is Proverbs 4:23. Come on, finish it for me: Above all else guard...  Yep. I know you've heard it. Maybe you've even quoted it when you were dating someone, or about to break up with someone. Or maybe you've thrown it in the face of your friend when you felt like they were loving too much too soon. But let's reclaim it today for the sake of what it truly means.

Proverbs 4:23 
Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. 

Whatever you put into your heart, mind, and soul, will eventually come out. (Luke 6:45)

If you put humility in your heart, serving others will spill out of you.

If you guard your heart with thankfulness, your well will not run dry with entitlement.

If you fill yourself up with patience, you will flow with kindness.

Likewise,

If you allow gossip to enter your heart, you will soon think of yourself higher than you ought.

If you engage in political hatred, you alienate people Jesus asks you to love.

If you shut yourself off from community, the well of your soul will feel isolated and alone.

Deeper still,

If you take in content through the internet, books, or movies that does not lift your soul, you will crave more, lust for more, soon be ensnared.

If you do not guard the sexual intimacy of your marriage, you will grow dissatisfied with your spouse and distance between you is inevitable, and you will seek it in other ways.

If you are not married and you seek to satisfy desires for relational intimacy apart of Jesus and purposeful community, you will become a target for the DLB to fill your heart with lies of entitlement, shame, rejection, and regret.

People, let us guard our hearts! Why exchange the truth for a lie? Why believe unholy thoughts that set themselves up against the knowledge of God? Why continue to learn about the stuff of this world but never arrive at the knowledge of the Truth?

Guard intimacy in your marriage. It is the only thing that is just for you and your spouse. It is a gift to be treasured and guarded, the point at which you can come together, recalibrate, refocus, refresh. Do not let anything in this world come into what was meant for just you and your life mate. If you need resources to help you grow in your understanding of intimacy with your spouse, email me.

If you are not married, guard your heart. The drive for sex can only be fully quenched in marriage. Love satisfies. Lust craves. Love gives. Lust takes. Love enables true intimacy. Lust kills true intimacy. Love protects. Lust destroys. Love builds your heart. Lust destroys your heart. Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

If you are a follower of Jesus, do not watch or read 50 Shades of Grey.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, guard your heart, too! Fill your mind and heart with life-giving, humanity-lifting wisdom. Do not watch 50 Shades of Grey.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Many, many blessings to your heart! May Jesus satisfy your deepest needs to be known, loved, and treasured.