Put Your Warrior Boots On, April 2017, Acknowledgments…
G, M, and S: My darlings, Jesus is the only thing in life. That’s all I can tell you. You’ll need these warrior boots, more than you may now know. Never forget to put them on or that your mom loves you, forever.
It’s true, that so many things start for one reason and manifest in another.
When I started writing Put Your Warrior Boots On some months ago, it wasn’t for my children. The election hadn’t happened. Distraught parents weren’t on social media asking now after all this and the outcome, what do I tell my kids? But now, all of that and more than ever, the knowledge of how to walk Jesus strong is ever so necessary for us, and maybe especially…yes, for the kids.
Just to be clear. The world didn’t get crazy 7 days ago. The world was already crazy and the aftermath of last Tuesday just brought it out with blazing vengeance.
I have written several versions of this post and deleted them all – because I refuse to get caught up in rhetoric and frenzy and divisiveness of this election.
I know some will say this post is small and not addressing the challenges. I can live with that assessment because I know the truth: in all the years I’ve written and spoken a solo message, and that won’t change now: it’s always God, only God, forever God. Things and people and kings and angels and demons and the madness of this world, all fall in line under Him. I stake every thing in my life on Him, and dare not be confident in anything else I might want to contribute.
(For further opinion: feel free to visit any social media outlet to read the take of thousands of others who have well exercised their freedom to speech. There’s plenty of both wisdom and verbal smog to go around.)
My words in this space are for our children, the ones we don’t know what to say to in this moment…and for ourselves, too, as we are so often as frail and needy as are they.
Today, as yesterday, we tell our children to trust God. We tell them He is the answer for the world, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. We tell them that even smart people get it wrong and we are all wise in our own eyes, which is why we need to pray so very much because we all think we are right.
We tell them that God is strong and powerful and no election or unrest changes that. We tell them He is trustworthy and doesn’t make promises He can’t keep or say things out of turn — ever, even though everyone else does.
We tell them all is His. All is His, forever and ever amen, and though people forget that, it doesn’t change Kingship or sovereignty.
We tell them that the Bible says that no weapon formed against them will prosper. We tell them this when they are lied straight to by Satan to make them believe their life is unstable. With Jesus, it is not.
We tell them when fear is around, God is not in that, so we must pray to get out of the fear cycle. We tell them to answer fear with praise and praying the Word of God, which always calms and heals. We tell them that God is their God, and their life is not their own to be wasted on arguments and hating people or loving self too much but to be used for His honor and glory to be a light in this dark world.
We tell them they are ok because Jesus is in charge and well in command. We tell them we don’t have to understand how that works to believe that it is. This is called faith.
We tell them to pray for a heart of peace like never before, even before they pray for their very own country…because we know that hearts at peace cannot also be at war, which solves the problem.
And we tell ourselves these things, too, and turn off the tv and vitriolic social media (which only distracts us from our power source) as we declare the Word of God over our own life and heart and mind – fortifying the weak and worried places…looking to the One who has remained present and strong in every chaos of this world through the ages and is equally present, still.
If this is all we can tell them, then we have told them everything. The greatest disaster in this moment is not having to tell them hard things about political leaders but if we miss this opportunity to tell them about the ultimately security plan in Jesus Christ, which transcends current mess and transfers to any future situation.
All is His, my friends. All is His.
*Disclaimer: I approach this post with great love, thought, prayer and under the accountability of II Corinthians 5:14: “Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us.” p.s. It’s a longer post than normal. But I ask you to read every word.
There’s been a lot going on in Christendom lately, what with the election and differing stances and views by the body of Christ and all. The truth is, the Church has always had differing opinions on things and controversies because of it. I’m not sure why we are reacting now as if it were scary and new.
I think sometimes in our effort to use the Acts early church as a model (with good reason) we mistakenly begin to think it was perfect. Stephen, a “man full of God’s grace and power” enters the scene in Scripture in Acts 6 when the early church is experiencing growing pains and controversy of its own. Lest we think the early church was perfect, we need only remember that it was made up of people. And as we know, people will ruin a perfect thing, every single time.
The body of Christ has been a hot mess with a Savior and a cause since the beginning. Until we meet Jesus, we will hold a Bible in one hand and a flesh desire in the other. It’s the human plight.
But before we settle into this idea that the realities of our flesh keeps us from growth, let’s remember that sanctification – the long obedience work of becoming like Jesus – is to be our beautiful pursuit. Until we stop breathing, may we never rest in a less than Jesus wants us to be position.
Listen. I don’t want us to be scared. I don’t want us to be angry. There is truly no need. No matter how it looks right now, this is a time of recalibration, not fear. These tough times are forcing the Christians to live the Bible we’ve read many times, back up all our many preached words. It’s time and it is good. Hollow spiritual lives won’t point people to the Savior of the world, which by the way, remains the reason we are all here.
Controversy brings out the real stuff. Social media can trigger us. But it can only push out what is already there.
If we are fearful, if we have unresolved baggage, if we are Christian in name only but the depth isn’t there, in controversy it will all come out. (Perhaps the knowledge of this is the root of much of the fear.)
And in the same way, if we are full of the good real stuff – the Holy Spirit completely controlling our life – we will be able to not only maneuver controversial waters but respond to those who differ from us in such a way the stance is known but the love is, too. If we are to have angst at this moment, let it be because we see the realities of how we are not yet like Christ.
Now. I need to tell you a few personal things.
I’ve been on Twitter in recent days. I’ve scrolled Facebook. So many unnecessary, ungodly thoughts have come out and general human decency has been disregarded from my fellow believers in Jesus. There’s absolutely no way we can include Jesus in that. May we tremble in our justifications of flesh behavior, most especially if we claim it is done in any way under His covering. Let us not be fooled into thinking we will not be held accountable for our behaviors at times like these. We will.
I have friends, some Christian famous and some not, whom I disagree with about things important to me. But they are my friends, and I do not fear our theological differences because Jesus is our bond. I have readers of this blog who are atheists and some who believe in gay marriage, as do some of my ministry friends. I will not change my stance for them. I will also treat them with love and respect, as both are non-negotiables in my higher commitment to Jesus.
So I exhort us all, the followers of Jesus, to get on our knees and pray like crazy for Christ’s love to control us moving forward. With His control over our life and lips, the crazy will not overtake.
The truth is, we are all products of our background, environment, education, and personal trains of thought, as well as the depth of our relationship with Jesus, so it is no wonder we won’t always agree. (And yes, the Bible says some will become disillusioned and fall away from the faith.) We shouldn’t fear the disagreements. We should only fear God if we, as His rep, don’t respond to them in a way that honors Him. Trust me, at this moment, I’ve asked Him to take my inventory.
We can stand and not waver on our position while responsibly modeling the grace and kindness of Christ. We must stand for the Bible. We must stand for Truth. We must also treat people well. These are not mutually exclusive.
It is a lie to believe love and grace means accepting and agreeing with all views. It is also a lie to believe holding strong to a standard means you shun or lash out at the person you disagree with. Love and grace are an innate response of a Christ consumed heart. Perhaps if this is not our response we ask Jesus to mine deeper.
And because I am personally weary of the just grace and love claim: grace and love exist in the context of standard and conviction. To suggest that Jesus is all grace and love without standard is to grossly misunderstand and misrepresent Him. (That’s for a different post.)
I believe the Bible, every word. I believe Jesus was more than just a good guy, but was and is the Almighty Savior of the World. I believe a baby is a person at the point of conception. I believe faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. I believe in the sanctity of marriage, between a man and a woman. And I also believe many of us as Christians are walking around pious in our God-ish living, which is equally as distasteful to God.
I believe we worry more about pointing out the sin in others than weeping over our own neglect in caring for the poor, orphaned and widowed, things Jesus speaks in Scripture directly about as non-negotiable actions.
I believe we generally don’t treat people like Jesus would. I believe this is because we have replaced intimacy with Him for surface spirituality so we man our daily reactions.
I believe in the importance of unity in the body of Christ, which does not mean we meld our convictions on every issue but we meld our hearts to reach this world for Christ. Right now, they want no part in the perceived circus.
And I believe most of all, that The Great One thrives like always in bringing clarity to chaos, hope to disappointment, and peace in the midst of controversy.
Let’s put our eyes back on Him.
Every now and then I write something that threatens to make me unpopular and marginalized. Turns out Jesus freaks are annoying. Sigh. It’s true.
The last thing I want to be in this post is divisive to the wonderful, flawed body of Christ or self-focused and whiny…so trust me, I’m being careful.
But I read an article today that messed me up – about the Western Church and how we don’t have a clue what true Gospel living really is. And now I can’t write anything else but this post that threatens marginalization that was not on my schedule. Hashtag inconvenience.
Please. Don’t you know how much I don’t want to say hard things? It’s not my goal in life to scare people off and have them run away. But God presses me hard, sometimes, and His pressing bosses me to death. My allegiance is to Him. It is not to my peers. It is not even to my readers. I gave up caring largely about what people thought of me when I wrote I Want God, thank God, and it’s too heavy to take back.
After this article (which, please, believers, all read) I sit with a lump in my throat and tears pushing to come out in all the conviction. All I see lately is let me post a selfie with a random Bible verse caption and buy my latest book and post after post on Twitter, ad nauseam, with our answers to all the things. Every conference that has a get ahead theme to it, with the best people still, but chasing, chasing and I literally want to throw myself across the bed and scream.
Where is God in all this? We are dying to hear everything we don’t need to hear and being in the most popular Christian group. I’m tired of who knows who and all that, when it comes to the ministry world. It tarnishes God’s honest concept for community and makes those who don’t know some particular who wishful they did.
I’ll be gut level honest: by virtue of that I do, I’m enveloped in a weird Christian celebrity world of sorts that I did not sign up for and I can’t be silent and pretend it doesn’t exist. (If you don’t know about this, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you.) And I have worked very hard with Jesus for this kind of strong calling out not to be baggage or envy or anything else, and I can promise before Him now that I truly believe it is not and if it is, I give Him full permission to out me.
(Hold on. This part is hard.)
I’m tired of Christian circles where compliments are gushed publicly without true relationship, conveniently right before our new book comes out. We’ve scratched each others backs so hard we have fingernail marks.
I’m tired of Christian cute: all the zillions of inspirational sayings that we have trained ourselves to now need to hear every 2.2 seconds for the next fix that float around on social media…the way we mostly circle around ourselves as believers instead of reaching out to the lost…our Christian t-shirts and jewelry we can’t get enough of but mostly just wear and don’t live…our complaint after complaint about everything under the sun while missionaries in other parts of the world live under mosquito nets and fear for their very life…being so very proud of ourselves for our short bursts of faithful to the Lord.
Sometimes Christian cute and Christian celebrity makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and quit, especially when I read an article like the one I did earlier today and remember the persecution of believers in other parts of the world that are real, people, really real and I am so very wimpy and soft. And in the next minute I see a picture of what Christian celebrities are taking a picture on Instagram together, more please buy my new book (p.s. Please don’t write to me about why this is necessary because trust me, after 10 years in the business I get it, and there’s a difference between responsible book promotion and pimping ourselves to death), and my own tweets last night while watching The Bachelorette. Let me not be falsely humble. I’m a fan of myself, too. We all are. Humans.
So then I’m convicted in my own self sin, and I just want to quit and cave up, like I do when it all seems so wrong and so much and that article that messed me up won’t stop bugging me and I’m not sure what to do about all that’s wrong with me, with us.
(Good for the article. I needed it to mess me up. For a second I forgot.)
All of this Christian celebrity and Christian cute is about nothing but tactics of the enemy to keep us focused on self, which, in fact, is working. And we can call it favor and call it being exalted by God but let’s not lie to ourselves about all the hustling we do to get there in many cases, too.
And I know this calling out needs a solution or it’s just venting, which is a further waste of our time, and I don’t want to be held responsible for that.
So as I sit here with a lump in my throat and tears pushing, still, I can only offer what I know for sure to work:
- John 3:30: He must become greater; I must become less. (The only way I don’t think of myself so often is when I’m thinking of Him.)
- John 15:5: Without [God] we can do nothing. (Let’s pray to stop being so enamored with ourselves. Really, that’s what it is.)
- II Chronicles 7:14: Get humble, pray, seek God’s face. (Let’s just pray. I mean, for real, instead of all this other stuff because it’s the only thing that will help.)
I’m going to forewarn you: I won’t do this perfectly, so please don’t be expecting that or you will be sorely let down. I won’t promise not to slip, because I may. I don’t ask you to do it perfectly, either. I promise to love you through the muck of sorting it out, as I hope you will, me.
But we’ve got to fight for our purity of heart and stop settling for a glossy version of a Gospel that daily costs real, skin on believers their lives. If we aren’t going to go be physically in the trenches with them, we can at least fight for and with them here in our safe world through prayer.
And most of all, just God, forgive us for our Christian celebrity and Christian cute. It has absolutely nothing to do with You.
In this crazy and getting crazier world, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the world really needs from us, the Christians.
It doesn’t need more of our words, in most cases. We’ve said a bunch.
(Pause here, followers of Jesus. I feel tender towards us. Because I know, we really want to help and we don’t know what else to do sometimes but say something to make things better and right. We say what we want to do and want to believe, even when our flesh fights us to act on it. Saying fills awkward spaces. Saying gives alternative to moments that feel hopeless. If we can just offer something through our words, we think. We think. And p.s. yes, God has used our words in many cases, thankfully. I have to believe this. I’m a writer. Hello.)
The truth is, we have good hearts and intentions, most of us. We really want to meet needs. We really want to reach out and show the love of Jesus. We get sidetracked and selfish sometimes, mind you. (Don’t make these out to be small words. We have been known to massively mess things up.) But deep down in our core, we want to help.
It’s just that words alone are not what the world needs to turn them to Christ. We know this, right? We’ve tried this speech giving.
Instead, what the world needs is steadfastness: preaching the same, loving the same, doing the same, being the same, no matter what. A ministry of sameness. The gift of stability. We are used to big waves and floating around and in 2016, who is not looking for an anchor?
I know. On one hand, the world preaches change. I, myself, preach it, too, as the alternative to destructive patterns and ruts. Hope requires belief that yes, even if …. in our past, today, we can change. (Psst. I believe it.)
But one day, my friend gave me a compliment that caught me off guard and taught me the value of sameness: “Lisa, thank you. I feel like you are always the same person no matter what, and I admire that.”
At first, I didn’t like it. The compliment felt small. It felt stifling, like I was a person of little growth, which everything inside beat against in rebellion. I want to change and get better. I have. Age and Jesus have done great things for me in the maturity department. I didn’t want to be known as always the same person.
But then I realized that this sameness was not about the unwillingness to grow. It was about being a solid, consistent person to count on. And I knew, then: that was it. That is the thing we need to see. That is the thing the world needs now from the Christians.
Preaching the same message, over and over, again.
Loving the same, no matter the race, the issue, the preference.
Doing the same things that build character, even when they feel small and redundant.
Being the same person so people know where to go to find the Anchor.
My fellow Jesus people: this is what the world needs. Not our braggadocios storytelling. Not our angle to arm wrestle non-believers over or hold loud Jesus pep rallies cheering about His goodness and the next minute we’ve thrown down the pom pons because Jesus has disappointed us. But to be known by our sameness: the ones to love and the ones to live holy and the ones to stay faithful to Jesus, no matter what. Our life needs to say: you know where to find me. This is where I am and where I’ll always be — this is where you can find me at any time, on any given day. You can count on my consistency. People will know they can count on Jesus by how consistently we live.
- A consistent person will be sure.
Sure of what we believe. Sure of what we know about God. Sure and unwavering. Most people aren’t sure about anything, so we have to be different.
- A consistent person will be tireless.
Yes, we are human. When we try to lead from our flesh, we will become exhausted. But when we lead in the Spirit, we are replenished, consistently.
- A consistent person will be specific.
We can’t beat around the bush, be passive aggressive with our faith. The world needs clear direction and teaching – for us to be specific with what to do and how to survive unstable times.
- A consistent person will be selfless.
We can’t do this life thing if we are not, because eventually, selfish people can’t maintain a servant (aka, Jesus) lifestyle. It’s not about us. It’s not about our words. It’s not even about our story, for the sake of telling people about our life. It’s not about popularity. It’s not about followers and being accepted. It’s not about getting things off our chest, pontificating our opinions, writing and speaking for a particular response. Just be the messenger. Just be wise. Just be about God.
The world doesn’t need more of our words. It needs more of our consistency.
Maybe it’s time to change our goals.
I spend the first few years of speaking begging God to please send someone else out on the stage.
I will be a writer, I say to Him. But I don’t need to be in front of people. That’s for people who need attention. That’s for people who need to be heard. I sit at my desk, everyday, a faux sense of humility, up to the roof.
And then something happens. One day, on the carpet of my office floor, I say yes to the surrender. Yes, God, I will speak. Yes, I will go. Yes, whatever you want me to do. There is a mini-breakthrough, when I realize that sin often comes in the form of refusal and I decide not to refuse God, again, despite the fact I still don’t really want to go.
He begins to send me out to speak even more. I begin to get used to it.
Between the speaking (and my everyday home life, too) I write more books. I make those important ministry connections with the right people in our small Christian bubble. Women of Faith emails me to tell me they are interested in potentially having me as a speaker on their stage. And I am happy, because the ministry climb is happening as they tell me it’s supposed to. I am a type A, driven woman, and this all perfectly makes sense.
Thank you, God…you ask me to speak and I humbly say yes and now you explode my territory because I am so very faithful. Look at me. I’m doing it, God, see me doing it,? I ask, like a little girl on a bike in front of her dad, doing tricks.
Months pass, Women of Faith fades into the past without the formal invitation, and I keep speaking, asking God to see me doing it feeling like it’s all just a spiritual favor of sorts…going into all these places and serving all these people and pouring out when what I really want to be doing is staying at home all comfortable and safe, hiding behind my writer desk. I’m doing it for you, God, I tell Him. Remember that, ok?
One spring day while I am in the midst of speaking on the subject of becoming whole, He sends me to Idaho, honestly nothing more than the next place on my speaking list. It’s a beautiful place, and I feel lucky to get to go but mainly for scenery reasons. I have never been to this place and I know right away it is something different because I feel it in my bones. I dismiss it as the mountain air, the vibe of the women, the new and different travels. Nothing more.
I speak. The weekend is beautiful. I know God has been there. The prayer team, an army of dedicated women, has been in my speaker room to pray. They are serious, the coordinator tells me, and I find out it’s true. Prayers like I’ve never heard before. Care for me, way beyond hostess baskets and putting me up in a comfortable room. I cry, thankful God has come. My small retreat room is full of Him.
Too soon, it is time for me to go. My flight calls me and my mind shifts to home. The women want to say goodbye to you first, Lisa, the coordinator says. Is that ok? I agree, and we head out the door and into the elevator.
It is about the time I step into the frame of the open door housing the women in the midst of a session, that the woman up front with the mic sees me and says, Oh, good! Lisa is in the back, ladies…can you say bye to her and thank her for her time with us this weekend? I smile, awkwardly (goodbyes and attention are two things I hate), and stand frozen in the doorframe as my 300 new friends turn, stand and clap. I am floored. Embarrassed. I’ve never had a standing ovation before. I feel small and silly. And then, suddenly, I break.
Tears, the inconvenient ones I never asked to come, show up madly and plunge down my face. I feel loved. I feel cared for. I feel safe, and this is weird and new (because speakers never really feel safe, you know. Our job is to help you feel safe with us.)
And right then and there, standing in the doorframe, crying like a mess, God speaks to my heart:
All this time, you think you are doing this to serve Me and help them, and all the while, I am using the Church to help heal you where they once broke you. I am restoring your faith in the Church at each and every event. It’s a reciprocal healing, Lisa. I’m using this to make you whole.
And I realize. This is all a gift. I’m not the gift. The people are. God’s purpose in this is.
And it changes the rest of my speaking life because I start seeing people as gifts and God as the reciprocal Healer.
Sometimes, the way we do not expect, God uses to heal us.
The finances we cannot figure out…the things we think we give up for Him…the ways we believe we sacrifice to serve: so often, it’s mostly for us.
To think that He goes to such length to save us – often, save us from ourselves – that He will use the very thing we don’t want to be our healer…is a humbling, amazing Jesus reality that most of the time we resist but need more desperately than we know.
Some years after I never got the formal invitation from *Women of Faith, I finally got the courage to ask God why that never worked out.
Because you wouldn’t have ever learned to love people, I hear Him say.
Ouch. But He was right.
I would’ve subconsciously believed I could bypass that step because I had already arrived. I would not have taken the time to look into eyes or cry with people or pray over them in the same way. I would have cared too much about perfect speeches and well crafted ryders and making sure my accommodations were just so because that is what I was used to. I would have thought I was somebody, not in the way we are somebody because of Jesus, but in the way I was somebody more than everybody else.
I wouldn’t have learned to love people like only He knew I was capable.
And you, my friend…it is the same for you.
He knows what you are capable of.
He knows what you will settle for.
He knows how to heal you with the very thing you don’t want.
Thank Him for this, today, and do yourself a favor and let His way be.
p.s. I love you. I truly do.
(*This has nothing to do with Women of Faith or any such organization, whatsoever. You know that, right? God has done great things through great people on those stages because God can do anything through any of us. This is about me, my need to grow and change, and the fact God needed to use a different way to make that happen.)
I’ve debated this post for days, because responsibility. I feel it with every word I write, every word I speak, the way I conduct myself (and especially when I fail). I’m positive it’s the way believers in Jesus Christ should all feel, since we have aligned ourselves to the Greatest. He deserves us to not act like straight up fools.
Also: time is helpful. Sorting through things is helpful. Jesus didn’t jump and spout off when things happened. He prayed. He considered. And in some cases, He never said a word.
Real talk: I wanted to be in that never says a word camp because to be honest, I don’t like yelling over people to be heard. But today, I am convicted. And that is the message of this post and my life bottom line.
I cannot change my conviction for you.
You, friend. You, family. You, courts. You, any human person. I can’t.
At first, this might make you mad or want to disengage from me. I get that. When we have something we feel strongly about, the human tendency is to want to find someone who agrees and huddle up close. But if you’ll give it a second, deep down, maybe you don’t really want me to. Because there is something about a person who lives by what they believe and won’t waver no matter what that has our respect. (Since much of our world sticks to zero.)
(Keyword: lives. Not shouts over people or waves big banners, although yes, there are times shouting and waving should happen (but probably a lot less). Convictions are meant to be lived. Solid, unwavering, no matter what, so that people know, spoken or not: this is where this person stands. When you see a person consistently standing in the same place, you know where to find them. (Baptist people humor: remember that person who always sat on the 5th row? Remember the time a newbie to the church tried to take their seat? LAWD.)
Now. In the best way I know how, in this post, today, here’s my why about convictions. For the recent decision by the courts on gay marriage I grieve over and disagree with. For the future decisions down the road to come, so you will know why even though I love you, will treat you with kindness and respect, and find you as a creation of God amazing and worthy, I won’t change my convictions for you.
Warning: I’m about to get down and dirty real.
1) Convictions are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they are the best thing that has ever happened to the Church.
Truth: A lot of Christians are freaking out right now, asking things like: what is the world coming to and how will we survive and will our kids be ok and why is the Church so divided? And these aren’t horrible questions, at the core, and by the way, Jesus is never afraid of any of them because He is the answer, always, duh.
But many times, they aren’t really questions. They are symptoms of our panic. We who are not sure know deep down we are soft and ill-prepared for giving answers, ourselves, for what we believe and why and it freaks us out. We can’t ignore the serious stuff anymore by playing church, and for many of us, this is a problem because playing church has been our jam.
Listen, I’m excited. Because it’s time. We who say we are followers of Jesus Christ have hid behind inspirational quotes and Christian labels long enough. We have added God on as the p.s. of our lives and lived God-ish rather than Godly. We haven’t been eager to show our hand. Now, our hand is being forced and it’s going to be about exposure of beliefs and convictions. And we who are not willing to talk about them because we are afraid of losing book sales or church members or friends or anyone will expose our character in that choice. (and I believe, cause greater heartache for ourselves and our churches down the road) This time in life is calling believers out of hiding, showing who, at the core, is just about Jesus and who, at the core, is about preserving self…which is a contrary goal. And this is healthy, friends. This is not freak-out worthy. This is necessary and needed.
This, by the way, will scare Christians with a lazy faith. It will excite those who accept it is the genius of God to take away smokescreens and coverings and cause the Church to finally put our money where our mouth is.
2) Convictions that stick are the ones that come from God, not out of human reaction.
Reactions to injustices and other people’s fights that are influenced to then become ours will last only so long. Eventually, someone else will sway us to go their way or we will tire of fighting. Yes, we can spend our whole lives fighting for things and die with them, too, even if they are wrong, because humans are stubborn and egotistical that way. But most of us aren’t that dedicated or strong. Only God can cement His things inside us. Only He is big enough to convince us for the long haul in a way that we won’t be worn down.
And yes, the world’s issues will always have the Church divided to a degree because, hello, different personalities, different perspectives, different backgrounds and places of damage which equals a different lens. Most of us can’t agree on whether we like mustard or mayonnaise better, so why should we think on other, bigger topics that come up we will all agree? (And yes, too, in case you haven’t noticed: we interpret the Bible differently often based on these same things.) But this doesn’t scare me.
Some of us will fight for things because we fight against wrongs we can’t shake that have turned us into vigilantes. This can be powerful and good but even in this we must be careful that the convictions don’t come from self things like personal baggage instead of God things like purity. Holiness and spreading the Gospel are God things, not human cravings for justice or personal freedom outside of Him.
Convictions are crazy glue times a thousand. They are teflon. They keep me firm when I make an unpopular choice, even when that unpopular choice makes me cry or feel rejected. They help a kid not have sex before marriage in a serious dating relationship even when so many others are…because, convictions. They help a spouse to stay faithful to marriage when the sparks don’t still fly…keep me treating people with respect, even when I firmly disagree with their convictions, because love = a conviction. When we lapse on our convictions (as humans can do), we lapse on Godliness. That’s a serious deal.
3) Convictions trump feelings.
This is a really good thing because feelings can be so very strong and sometimes we feel like a slave to them. But convictions are stronger, so they always win. They trump the need to be popular or go with the crowd. They are the absolutes that govern life and if we don’t have absolutes, what do we have? We become wisps and drifters, and wisps and drifters all about their feelings don’t help anyone. They just drift and feel and people don’t even see them when they wisp by.
Perhaps if Christians were more about convictions than feelings, people would take notice and be drawn to our Jesus.
Perhaps if Christians lived by our convictions rather than felt like we had to convince other people to adopt ours, we would have better success with influence.
100 people living their convictions are more powerful than a million trying to strong arm people into the Gospel.
And by the way…to my friend who doesn’t agree with my convictions, trust me: you may not agree with me, but my convictions may be to your best interest.
~I have two friends I dearly love, but neither likes the other. My conviction to stay a faithful friend to each of them despite their conflict has shown them I can be trusted as a friend to them. They don’t try to sway me from the other. They accept my conviction and respect it. Only my conviction has helped me be able to maneuver this tough spot. Conviction before feelings.
~I’ve been wronged and wanted so desperately to speak out publicly, especially on social media. But my conviction to not mark another person or church or ministry because I want to honor God more has kept me from it. People may not agree. But my conviction keeps me trusting in God to (in the now or in the later) make all wrong things right. I know, with firm confidence, He will. People know I won’t throw them under the bus to help myself feel better. Conviction before feelings.
Maybe you don’t agree with my particular conviction. And maybe you believe I’m behind the times or being too strict or not being loving (which, I’ll be honest, is a bit of a worn out rhetoric, though yes, some Christians still need to get it together with this). But at the end of the day, you have to know that in the same way I can’t change my conviction for you, I won’t change my conviction about how I love you, either. And isn’t that just the best?
4) Convictions won’t change. But other things can.
Good news. Though my convictions won’t change, the things you might really prefer me to change are these (and cue the party music…I can!):
~my attitude towards you.
~my response to you.
~my heart for you.
~my understanding of you.
I can be a better listener. I can be a more faithful friend. The pliability of my heart can change because I can ask God to soften it and He is the heart softening Master.
So. This is a win. Living by convictions is a win. Jesus is a win.
And if you ever wonder what I’ll be busy preaching about? It will be Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. It won’t be against you.
And in my personal moments I will be busy studying about holiness without pride, learning to live pure and loving, with the Word of God driving my life and my conviction, praying prayers like this:
God, help us all. We just need You.
Amen and amen.
(*No discussion needed. If you love this post, share it. If you don’t, don’t. Regardless, and I mean this: I LOVE YOU.)