To Build Up or Destroy, the Choice is Yours

Wednesday, February 11, 2015  ::   4 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.


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.

The Daily Battle

Saturday, February 07, 2015  ::   10 important comments

He did not do many mighty works among them because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58

These words have chased me for the last few years. Three years ago I began to ask God to increase my faith, teach me not just to believe in Him, but to believe Him. Like so many people who pray that prayer, I did not know what the cost of asking for more faith would mean for me. Soon after begging God for more faith, my family and I faced a health situation that would require me to quiet my fears, trust Him with my family, and take a year sabbatical to heal and to learn to just be with God.

I learned good, rich lessons of resting, and being with Jesus, of trusting Him, obeying Him in the day to day walk of life.  But, let me be honest with you, as the time between that sweet rest grows, there are more and more days when I wonder if I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, wondering if I should be doing more. The funny thing is I know what I'm passionate about, investing in women and teaching them to do the same. I love telling people about Jesus and experiencing life transformation with them. But sometimes. Oh those sometimes. Sometimes I wonder if I am enough, if there is more, if I 'm missing something.

Yesterday Jennie Allen started the If: Gathering by challenging us with faith. There was so much passion and urgency erupting out of her. As she talked of Joshua and Caleb's faith the story was building in my heart again, am I doing what I should be doing or is there more? And then the answer came.

This faith, this life, our lives are to be spent for the Gospel, for the souls of men!

"We are at war and the prize is faith! There is nothing more damaging to hell! If God is real then let's go take the land. It isn't in the measure of our faith. It is in the measure of our immeasurable God!" -Jennie Allen

Friends, this is the stuff of daily living! This is not only the big adventure to do big things in the eyes of people. It is opening your mouth to your co-worker, your classmate, your roommate, your mom, your brother, those with whom you are in contact every day. Every normal, mundane day of your life is the actual battle!

I often believe the lie that my life is small, but I am living out my faith with my family and church in Tucson, AZ where 90% of the people are unchurched. Another level of freedom came to me during Jennie's message yesterday. The battle is for the souls of the people in my every day life. In head knowledge I know this truth. Now I'm asking God to make it a reality in the experiential knowledge of my soul. If I am not willing to fight the daily battle then I am no true warrior. Ann Voskamp summed it up at the end of the night perfectly for me as she led us in confession. Forgive me for wanting a calling bigger than my character.

Jesus, help me, help us be faithful with the few. Help me battle in the everyday. Let my character run deep. Let me long for you so much more than I long to do work for you.

Increase our faith. Please do many mighty works among us because our faith pleases you!

What challenges your faith? Who do you need to tell about Jesus? Have you considered the measure of your character compared to the calling you desire? 

May rich blessings of faith grow in your heart as you do what He's asked you to do! 

Soul Care

Thursday, February 05, 2015  ::   6 important comments

Beautiful words filled my mind when the alarm went off this morning. 

I've spent this week wondering: Wondering why Alysa gave me her IF: Gathering ticket. Wondering what to expect. Wondering about the women in the IF Facebook groups. Wondering what God has for me. Wondering what to expect or even if I should have expectations. Wondering if God has something to teach me, show me, tell me. Wondering. 

Yesterday I focused on laying all the wonderings down. The God of the Universe owes me nothing. Jesus is enough. His presence in my life is a gift of His unfailing love. As I faded into sleep and whispered the dreamy prayers of my heart, I confessed to Jesus that the break from routine and sitting in His presence this weekend was enough for me.  

At 6:05 the alarm buzzed, and my mind was instantly full. 

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope; my soul waits for the Lord, more than watchman wait for morning, more than watchman wait for morning." Psalm 130:5-6

"My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him." Ps 62:1

"My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods, with singing lips my mouth will praise you." Ps 63:3

Turns out my true desire for this weekend is to rest in Jesus, to have little to no responsibility, to just be with Him. The burden of expectations has been lifted.

I'm already breathing more deeply and slowly, enjoying the slowed rhythm of waiting. My soul rests and waits. He will satisfy me, not the music, not the speakers, not the women with whom I interact. I trust He will use those good things, but He doesn't need to. He is enough. 

Practice to Truly Live

Sunday, February 01, 2015  ::   12 important comments

To carry out an activity habitually or regularly is to practice. What in your life is something for which you desire proficiency? For me, exercise, baking, and even parenting are parts of my life that demand consistent practice. I've tasted the cookies of people that only bake once in a blue moon. Usually, one bite is plenty. Lone crumbs on the plate after a party give great evidence that someone has practiced baking their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.


Our spiritual lives require this important discipline. The more I practice praying, the more I realize I'm truly talking to God with no pretense, fear, or entitlement. Kindness grows as we practice seeing the needs of those around us. Generosity grows as we practice meeting those needs. John Ortberg wrote a book teaching about the purpose in training for the life you want verses simply trying to obtain it. (Consider reading this good book.) 

Of course you know I'm going to say the same is true in memorizing scripture. The more you practice, your ability to remember verses will grow. The more you practice, your ability to apply them to your everyday life will grow. The more you practice, your ability to calm your heart and mind, obey a prompting of the Spirit, and even spontaneously pray scripture will grow and grow and grow. 

Unfortunately, many of us as children took the word "practice" and put it in the negative word folder of our minds. How many of you were forced to practice piano or violin? Did you just shiver a little bit? For me, it was practicing math facts. Just typing that sentence made my lip snarl and nostrils flare. Ick. Well can we just please stop a minute and reclaim the beautiful word of practice? How about these words: 

Review, carry out, persist, work out, get in there, make progress, labor, and my favorite, do your thing! 

A few times a week, say the verse you are memorizing out loud over and over. A few times a week practice remembering the verses you already know by reviewing them. This practice makes the power of His word a very tangible reality in our hearts, minds, and souls. Don't you desire this fruit in your life? I do. I so so SO want this in my life and in yours. 

Click on this photo, so you can get a good glimpse at theses dates. I've been practicing my verses for many, many moons.
You will have to look closely, but there are some antique cards in that pile. 1991! Raise your hand if that card is older than you. Yes. I know. Quite a few of you. Amazingly, I still know each of those verses because I PRACTICE them regularly and have been since I learned them! So whatever your method is, review should be a vital part of your practice. 

This next photo is only a point of encouragement. Jeremiah 9:24 says, "Let him who boasts, boast in this, that he understands and knows me." I'm not promoting my skills, but wanting to show you what your heart, mind, and soul can take in if you practice. 
Review your verses, friends. REVIEW YO VERSES! Practice. Practice remembering. Practice learning. Practice living. Practice loving. Practice being. And then when you practice doing, your heart and mind will be set on heavenly things where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)

This month I'm continuing to take in the passage in 2 Timothy about how the world will be full of junk worming its way into weak-willed women's homes. I'll be working on verses 3 through 5. 

2 Timothy 3:3-5
heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 

Such "happy" verses, aren't they? A good explanation of all of this will be written up soon. I promise. 

Please post what you will be memorizing and/or practicing this month. I can't wait to read what you have to say! 

What are you memorizing? Are you reviewing? How are you practicing what you are learning? 

Blessings in your practice, my friends!