The buck stops here.

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So. I just wrote that last post and not ten minutes later God pretty much stormed down my door and called me on my B.S.

That’s BRAVE? That’s what I told you to say? That’s how I moved in your heart?

Whatever. Get over yourself and tell them MY words. The words I gave YOU to speak.

None of us wants to do that. Do we? We’re all thinking one thing, and saying another.

Or, saying nothing.

And I want to be cleaning my front yard, or folding some laundry. Okay, maybe want isn’t the right word here. But I have plenty of things to do. My plate is full. So is yours. I have my agenda, you have yours.

But here’s the deal. See, I’m taking this course over at Tribe Writers written by this guy named Jeff. He’s pretty cool. He is good at calling people out, encouraging writers, building influencers; people who want to tell the truth–their truth–but they need help. Inspiration. A kick in the pants. People, like me.

The thing is, I go over there and I’m all encouraging, and supportive (well, mostly) and I keep telling people “Be BRAVE!”, “Use your words!”, “Speak Up!” When really, it’s just a bunch of hypocritical horse-pucky, because I won’t do it myself. I won’t open my own mouth and tell you what I believe.

Because…I’m afraid. Afraid of peoples opinions. Their judgement.

It’s ridiculous.

I’m ridiculous. I have been more afraid of what people think of me than I was of the God of the universe. I think I need to lie down…

But I’m not going to. I’m done wasting God’s time. He doesn’t need another pretty face. He doesn’t need another person to hold up and protect. I’m not going to let Him waste His love on me. He wants me, wants my soul, all of it.

I am special. I was chosen for a reason. God’s not going to walk out on me, He’s faithful. He wants to be all I need and for me to see His heart.

I can’t let another minute go to waste because God was crazy for wanting me. The truth is, He was crazy for wanting all of us. But, here’s the most insane thing: those of us who know that, aren’t living like it.

Where is grace? Do we even understand it? Grace.

You know, people everywhere are talking about how the church is broken. In some ways, maybe even useless. They are walking away. People like Donald Miller, and Barbara Brown Taylor. People in the church, and those outside of it. But The Church is not a place, or a denomination, it’s a people. It’s us. You and me, we are THE CHURCH.

“It is impossible that the church should do anything that individuals do not do”

A.W. Tozer

Hello? The church is people. It’s us people! We are asleep folks. We’re like the walking dead. We’ve become zombies for crying out loud! Just like the new testament church in 1 Corinthians 10, and the Israelites in Deuteronomy 1, we we’ve stayed long enough at this mountain. Much, much too long.

It’s time to possess some promised land.

Do you want it? Because I do.

Because I’m sick to death of the culture war. It makes me gag. I’m tired of us chasing our tails while the world burns down. We want to save the world, just not, you know, all those sinners.We pick our little darlings and parade them around; homosexuality being target Numero Uno.

Am I lying? Really? Prove me wrong.

So, when was the last time you talked to a homosexual? Never? Well, I have. Lots of them. I call them friends. I love them. And when I see them, I have to hold back because what I really want to do is run to them and hold them. I want to weep. I want to tell them I’m sorry.

I’m sorry you are the scapegoat of our generation. I’m sorry you are our pet sin. I’m sorry we–the church–would rather shoot the hostage than kill the kidnapper.

Do we have to agree with their choices? NO. I probably don’t agree with all your choices either. I don’t agree with all my own. In fact, I’m pretty ashamed at my own choices on a daily basis. I have plenty of opportunity to regret.

How would things change if, this Sunday, when you walked into church they gave you a piece of paper at the door, a pen or pencil, and a safety pin.

“Please write down all your sins for this week so we can all see them and judge you accordingly.”

 

Would you do it? What would it say?

Liar? Thief? Adulterer? Glutton? Idolater?

Feeling convicted yet? Or, did you need me to SHOW YOU your sin before you felt convicted? This is a blog for pete’s sake–I can’t see you. But you feel it don’t you. That gnawing, aching feeling in your chest? That? Oh, that’s the Holy Spirit. Yeah. And you know what? He doesn’t need my help–or anyone else’s–to act. He’s pretty good on His own.

Do you think we could maybe give Him a chance to work…all on His own. For once?

Huh, Church? Are you listening yet? Are we awake yet? Or is God going to have to kick start us a little harder. You think He won’t? Because I know He will. Keep ignoring Him and He will just have to start talking louder.

Does this post offend you? Does it make you angry? You know what I wish it would do? I wish it would break your heart. I wish the church really was broken. Broken enough to be what it was meant to be.

I wish this post would make you want to go find the first person you can that needs Gods Love, Mercy, and Grace and hug them. I wish you’d love them and accept them the way God loved and accepted you–with all your flaws. The flaws you have now, still today. Oh you’re forgiven, that’s right. But you aren’t perfect yet. And I’ll bet you know that.

God loved me right in the middle of my sin. He loved me before I sinned. He knew I was going to screw up, and keep on screwing up. Even when I want to get it right. Even when I think I have it right, even now, this second–when I feel like I’m right where He wants me– saying exactly the words He wants me to say–I could be wrong.

But if I’m going to err, I’d rather err on the side of love, than caution.

I’m done playing it safe.

 

 

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When you don’t know why.

we see darkly

  “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”    

            1 CORINTHIANS 13:12

The last few weeks have seemed to close in on me like the walls of a shrinking room in a sci-fi movie. Schedules loom, days fly by, and the every-little-thing of normal life has become this monstrosity. My to-do list has spun out of control and chased after me snarling.

It’s been rough. To say the very least. And although I don’t always let these things get to me, lately I have. I’ve let them all pile up to some big mound of disappointment with some unknown thing. What, exactly, am I disappointed with? I don’t even know.

Is it my writing? My life? The weather? Is it my lack of desire to follow the schedule of Lent that’s been laid out so neatly by so many? Because it seems like it has, and I do think that’s a part of it. Something there about the “schedule” of Lent, the enforcement of a certain way of worshiping, that seems to scrape up against who I am.

I don’t despise a liturgical calendar. Truly, I don’t. We all need reminders to focus on God, times to make Him central. Somehow, though, I feel like they need to be more regular than just Easter and Christmas. Yet, I struggle with guilt here.

If I’m not on board with what’s being offered for this dinner am I missing out?

What if, what Gods speaking to me during this time is different than everyone else? Not theologically different, but relationally different? Is that okay?

I never mind being the odd man out. Okay, maybe I mind a little. But, it hasn’t stopped me from listening to the One who calls me over the many who chatter. Still. It is never easy to speak up and be the only voice.

My last post (and several before that) alluded to my yearnings—and the whispering of the Spirit—in the area of Speaking Freely about difficult things. And maybe that’s really where my disappointment lies. Because, I want this to be easy.  I want it clear cut. Simple. But the truth is, it’s anything but.

And maybe, I just need to do it and stop waiting for it to feel okay. Because, maybe it never will. Maybe, it will always be hard. It will always feel like ripping open my chest and letting you read my heart. I don’t know. But if I don’t try, I may never know and the never knowing is even worse.

So, here we go. Here’s a truth for today that I am choosing to speak.

I am discouraged.

It’s true. I have tried to pretend it wasn’t the case. And I won’t say I always feel this way, like every second of every 24 hours. But, it’s there none the less.  And many people will read this and immediately assume I’m the one to blame. I’m not walking closely enough with God. I’m in a season of disobedience. I’m back sliding.

Because, otherwise I’d have Joy, right? I’d be happy all the time and smiling through every trial. Because that’s what Christians do…isn’t it?

Or is it? Is it that we smile through every pain and every hardship or is it that we hide? Have we learned not to feel the pain of a fallen world any longer or are we keeping secrets?

I really don’t know. I don’t know what you do when—and if—you ever stop to think about the evil present in the world and our lives, but for me, I hurt.

I hurt that somewhere on this planet (and maybe in my own state…or city even) a child is being bought and sold like meat.

I hurt that over half the planet is starving and sick while we buy Coach purses and Ugg boots and a million other things to impress people we don’t even know with things they will never see.

And I hurt that The Church has become a closed door beaten in with a battering ram wielded by those who comprise it.

How did this happen? When—and how—did things get off track?

I don’t have an answer. But I am choosing to believe two things about this season, at least my own understanding of it. I am believing what it IS, and what it’s NOT.

From my experience, a season of disappointment is a chance to grow. We can often learn more from what we lack. Setbacks, falls, embarrassment, failings, and unfulfilled dreams give us one most important thing; a reference point—a place to begin.

So you didn’t get what you want? You don’t like the way things are going? Congratulations, you just learned half the answer. Even if you don’t know where you are, knowing where you aren’t is half the battle. You just found your starting line.

The realization that you aren’t getting what you want from a situation is actually a wonderful gift. Many, many people continue in failure and frustration for years, even lifetimes, before finding that line, if they ever do. If you have accepted, or at least acknowledged your problem, or any problem, you’ve just put yourself ahead of half the pack. Look up! Things are getting ready to change.

Pain is a wake-up call. If you hurt, you are still alive. So, while you’re still alive, and since you’re not in the grave just yet, let’s do something about that pain why don’t we? Let’s use it. That’s right. We are going to take that thing that’s causing you grief and let it be a catalyst for change in your life, in my life.

You know what? I hurt most deeply when I feel I’m wasting my God given talents and gifts. Namely, writing. I’ve said it before; Why I AM a writer! God gave me words and stories and I need to share them. Yet, I flail in my writing life for many reasons…excuses…and it wears me down. Every time I feel God inspires a post and I don’t write it, I feel discouraged. When He wakes me at 3 a.m. with a dream that gives insight into one of my stories and I choose to go back to sleep instead of getting up and hitting the keyboard, I feel depressed. But because I’ve just identified that as a source of my tension I am now able to fight against it. I have a new frame of reference from which to move forward.

I hate sex-trafficking. I actually hate it. HATE. IT. It makes me angry, literally. And I feel more angry at myself than anyone else when I fail to do anything about it. Because if I’m not part of the solution than I am just part of the problem. If I fail to talk about it, or pray about it, and help others understand why we need to work against it, I am really no worse than those committing it. The blood of the innocent is on my head.

So maybe, today, I will put that red X back on my hand so I remember to keep praying for those bound in slavery. And that sticker of the #enditmovement? Maybe I can actually have it made and put it on my car, and maybe sell some to raise funds for this cause that is so important to me, important to us as a society, and species.

I just found my starting line.

red x

So what is it for you? What’s eating you? What haunts your sleep? I think it’s time to find out what that thorn in your side is really there for. It’s there to move you. And it may only be for a season, or it may be a permanent fixture in your heart. I don’t know. Only God does. But wouldn’t you like to find out?

When you find out what it is, just remember what it’s not.

It’s not the end. Disappointment, disillusionment, and pain do not mean you are done. As crazy as it sounds, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t necessarily even mean you are doing something wrong. You could be, but this is a chance to reevaluate that. It’s an opportunity to look at things from a fresh set of eyes and see what’s missing.  It’s not as bleak as you imagine.

And God is NOT done with you yet.

He loves you. He’s in control. And He’s waiting for you to step forward and draw closer to Him through this.

Please speak freely with me in the comments about what is discouraging your heart. What disappointments are you harboring? This Lent, let’s work together to get past them.