Why the Church Ignores Racism (and other things, too)

There’s a lot I don’t know about. I’ve never broken a leg or had my appendix taken out, so don’t ask me about that. I’ve never adopted a child or tucked a foster child into a bed in my home, held them while they had night terrors. No one in my house has special needs, and we’ve never lived in poverty or been incarcerated. So I defer to the wisdom of my friends who have walked those roads personally to teach me about such, and trust me, I ask a lot of questions.

Let me tell you the shortest of stories, and I’m gonna say it blunt, which will embarrass me a bit. Before my husband lost his job when my kids were all under the age of 4, I didn’t care about people who lost their job. I said I did. I even prayed for some out of work. But my heart wasn’t truly with them because it wasn’t personal to me, yet.

I’m not suggesting we have to personally experience something to truly be in the corner of someone who has, but we better get as close as we can. This will take intention, fighting against our running away. A lot of times we do the opposite since it takes courage to run to something that might mess our heart up.

Sometimes those friends walking hard, different roads will throw up on us and tell us true things that singe our ego and challenge our safe train of thought. But if we stay close, we will become better humans and stop being comfortably ignorant. When my husband lost his job, I couldn’t blame people for being too lazy to keep jobs, anymore. Now I knew better. A guy with a master’s degree and the best work ethic I knew lived in my home and no one would call him back. I grieved over every ignorant stereotype I had about people who lost jobs and determined to never again ask naively painful questions to an unemployed like, “what’s God trying to teach you?” as if losing their job was God’s only way of getting their attention, the stupid rebel. Now I knew: sometimes jobs were just lost and God wasn’t to blame for that.

So here’s the thing I’ll say to the church, which happens to be the one thing I do know a lot about since it has from birth been my life. Until we make the Gospel personal, we will accept a Gospel that is arms-length. I think this is the second best thing Satan could want for us, only after not giving our heart to Jesus at all. At a moment that requires rising up, we can’t expect to suddenly be anything more than what we’ve been for months and years. Turns out, there is no full-time passion to be lived on a part-time Gospel. Not now, not ever. The church has some real soul searching to do about that.

If you think about why Satan doesn’t want us involved in the Gospel, it makes perfect sense. Ministry from afar and of the intangible isn’t compelling enough to wake us from slumbers, ease and self-preservation. When people don’t have faces or names and you’ve never smelled their clothes, you can dismiss their pain.

But when you know you can’t unknow.

And when it becomes personal, it changes everything.

So these are the very things we have to make sure we do.

People don’t care about racism when they look around and their world is only white. Nor do we care about those in poverty, when we don’t ever get out of our air-conditioned house to be exposed to it. A mom struggling to cope with a child in prison? Not our problem if we don’t personally put ourselves in a position to look into her eyes, see the tears, hear the whole story. We have become the numb, unaware people we have chosen to be. And one day we will answer to God for it. This is the bottom line.

I know this is not a feel-good post. So be it. I am convicted by my own words and drawn to the cross for answers, yet again. We must know what we don’t, find out at all costs instead of running the other way. We are not too busy: that is a lie we have chosen to make ourselves believe. We are not too tender and sensitive: that is a false humility we have chosen as a shield for hearing truth. The church will continue to ignore racism, laziness, manipulation and all the other things God hates if we don’t stop lying to ourselves and recoil at a leper’s hands because we think ourselves better. How gross we, the recoilers are. How much we are the ones who truly need the healing.

And if this offends us, may it be the telltale sign. We can change. We can get better. But we have to stop running away and instead, move as close as we can get.

5 Word Prayers Daily Podcast

Join Lisa every Monday thru Friday for a 5 minute daily devotional

Listen to Episodes  Friday 5

“Thank you for giving us some credit and not dumbing it down for the audience just because it’s only 5 minutes.” – Colleen

The 2 Things We Need to Grow Strong in God in 2018

I’ve been reading on the internet…people proclaim this and that – 2018 is the year of…and honestly, it’s all over the map. I’m hopeful they know something I don’t, but will you quit reading if I tell you God didn’t give me the memo on the theme of this year, at least not yet?

The truth is: I know much less about 2018 than I know…really, much less about everything, I realize, as I get older. Maybe I should be upset about this, but I’m not. I think realizing you know less than you thought just makes you cling to what you do know for sure that much tighter and preach bolder about that. Turns out, it’s much more satisfying and productive.

Instead of projecting what I do not know, I want to prepare for what I do know for sure: the world is beautifully flawed and loved by God but largely unwell, not paying attention to its Creator, and the Bible says I have an enemy constantly looking for ways to destroy me. Knowing this, I know I will need 2 main things to grow strong in the Lord this year.

  1. Community. The Bible makes it clear we are not to do our spiritual life alone. I wish I could express to you how hard-fought this concept is for me, a recovering loner, a still-fierce independent. I don’t preach community because it’s the popular kid right now or because I’m a 7 enneagram and need lots of people around me as I party. This thought, in fact, makes me want to break out in hives. But I have learned the hard way that community keeps us strong and therefore, Satan wants to convince us we don’t need or want it. I spent years soldiering my faith alone, and that was unwise and left me without my support team. God never set it up this way, and I truly believe that out of all the negative of the internet, one of the most beautiful positives is the connectedness we can have in the body of Christ across miles, countries, time and space.
  2. Consistency. More and more I realize it is, indeed, about staying in the tough journey, getting back up, putting one foot in front of the other and walking on: with parenting, with relationships, and most especially, with God. Reading the Bible, again. Praying, again. Loving, again. Serving, again. Listening, again. Believing, again. You and I will need spiritual repetition, faithfulness to Jesus and doing the things to help improve our walk with Him, for strength in 2018. Consistency in our faith results in depth in our relationship.

I enter 2018 taking on one of the most exciting but personally challenging ministry undertakings: a daily podcast (M-F) where I will share Scripture, a short teaching, and a 5 Word Prayer, as God leads the content. I do this to help us both with the 2 things we need going into 2018: to build a community of Jesus followers growing together and to offer a Scriptural word every day throughout the week to help us stay consistent in our walk with the Lord. It’s not meant to be your only source of spiritual food for the day. It’s meant to kick-start you, offer you something to think about, a growth lesson to move you closer to God. This is my strongest belief and prayer.

I love it so much because I know God gave it to me to help strengthen us in this new year, and I take it on, only believing in His ability to see it through.

In case you don’t yet know about the 5 Word Prayers Daily podcast, here are the quick fun facts.

  1. It’s only 5 minutes (or less) every day to listen.
  2. It’s a daily (M-F) spoken devotional of sorts, similar to if you were reading one from a book (ps: but the content is not from any book).
  3. We will cover topics from relationships to prayer to spiritual living to current events to word studies from the Bible. You can pick up and listen at any time.
  4. Sometimes I’ll tell a story…sometimes I’ll give you one thing to do that day to help whatever is the issue we are discussing. Real life stuff.
  5. It will help us with community and consistency, the 2 things we need this year to grow strong in the Lord.

I understand crazy busy schedule. One time someone described me as “the woman I see around going like her hair is on fire,” which is not far from true. Which is why 5 minutes or less works for me, and I imagine, it works for you, too.

Grateful to God for this new ministry venture and at the top of the list, after all these years on the blog, taking the voice to a new level and getting the honor of speaking to you some words.

Man, do I love you and hope you’ll listen.

 

 

 

**You’ll notice we recorded 3 prequels to our January 1 launch date. You may want to listen to at least Episode 1 on Community where I explain a little more about the podcast. But after that, you can pick up and listen anytime! The show notes tell you a bit about each episode, and the best way to not miss one is to subscribe to the podcast, which is super easy to do (you’ll see how when you visit the link).

Here are the quick links:

Never Ask People’s Permission To Do What God Tells You To Do

I thought long and hard about the last words I want to write in 2017.

Sometimes, I’ve found, it’s easier to know the don’t than the do and go from there.

I don’t want to give a lot of advice or talk about pages on a calendar. I don’t want to reflect on the year. 2017 has been a biggie for me, and most of you already know many of the reasons why.

What I really want to say is I’m moving into 2018 feistier than ever, knowing I’m an 8 enneagram, which changed nothing really, except people are happier now for some reason, you know…to know.

I am going to disappoint some of you in 2018 just like I did in 2017 or maybe I haven’t yet, but I will. I launched something called Ministry Strong for leaders, aware that because of its specialized focus, some of my friends here would feel left out. If that’s you I say, hold on. I have something coming that is for literally everyone, and I do mean everyone, it won’t cost you a dime, it maybe requires more prayers and empowerment of the Holy Spirit than I’ve ever needed before, and it will be here in mere weeks, which makes me want to break out in huge hives.

But I have to clear up a nagging myth I think you may have about Ministry Strong: there’s a reason I’m doing it, and it’s not because I need another job.

  • I started it because I almost quit the ministry, more than one time, and mostly because I was lonely, worried about the wrong things, caught up in stupid Christian celebrity culture, questioning my worth, fearful about everything, and never once because I didn’t want to serve God.
  • I started it because when I started speaking, and even 10 years into it, I had questions and no one to ask…and I know how terrifying it feels to stand up with the responsibility of the Word of God in your hands and not a clue how to present it.
  • I started it because God is a thorough, prepared God and many ministry leaders want to just wing ministry and hope they’ll last, which is crazy, harmful, unproductive, and unbiblical.
  • I started it because I wish I had someone talk to me about how to serve Jesus strong for the long haul when I first started out.
  • I started it because mentorship is modeled in the Bible, and I want to obey God and do what the Bible says with the journey He’s taken me on. Also, because I’ve had people pour into me.
  • I started it because I watched my father resign from a pulpit of a church he deeply loved over some things he had done and his heart break in a million pieces over the pain it all caused and go live in a travel trailer for 2 years on a dusty gravel road in his own form of recovery because he had not one other pastor or ministry friend come alongside him and help him start, again. I want to be a friend to some people, now. (**Please don’t miss what I have for you at the end of this post about this.)
  • I started it because I held the tattooed hand of a pastor’s daughter in a far away state who said to me, “I’ve been clean for 45 days for the first time in my adult life” and I knew by far, she wasn’t the only one and it could well have been me.
  • I started it because my husband and I started and closed a church in 13 months and if you think that doesn’t mess with your self-esteem and belief you are “successful” in ministry, think again.
  • I started it because every single day I hear from ministry people who are carnage of their own choices or the choices of others who are this close to quitting because no one who understood ever circled around them, invested in them about how Jesus can help keep them in this and make them strong.

But I started it, mostly because of just this: God made it clear I was supposed to.

And when God tells you to do something, my friend…never take a poll.

That’s what I want my last words in 2017 to be.

Love you.

See you in 2018.

 

 

**I detailed a bit more of this story in my book from 2011, {w}hole. I’ve recorded a portion of it for you, free, here. If you have less than 10 minutes, I would love for you to listen. It will give you further insight into the heart behind Ministry Strong.

So You Want Peace for the Holidays?

If you know anything about my family, you know we are not poster children for the word zen.

“How do you have a peaceful house for the holidays?,” I’m asked by a friend, and I try to play it cool. Thoughts of my husband’s crazy loud voice, my boy’s lively debates over sports teams, my daughter’s wild laughter when one brother puts her in a headlock or the other brings up that inside joke…sometimes in tandem and with a phone ringing, a tv blaring and the dog barking as background vocalists, and it’s no wonder I silently question why I am at all qualified to answer such a silly thing like that.

Yeah, we’re a loud bunch, a traveling circus, and on holidays that circus stays home.

But then I start thinking about the word peaceful, and if there might be any room for our crazy 5 to be included in that space. Surely even loud folks have a shot at Thanksgiving bounty and Christmas cheer.

Turns out, peace isn’t about quiet. It’s about life in any volume, lived in harmony with yourself and those you sit.

I’m grateful for this, since it is unlikely our Whittle party of 5 will quiet down anytime soon. Maybe you live in a home of quiet composure. Or maybe your blessed troupe is a little more lively than that. Either way, peace is not the absence of noise. It is the settled spirit of the people in a home.

I’ve been in a completely quiet house with turmoil cutting like invisible barbed wire with every sigh, look and step. And I’ve been in a house with kids bouncing off the walls like rouge rubber balls, volumes in uncomfortable decibels, where messy love and unity is felt to the studs.

You can set the cute placemats out, but that won’t change the hearts. Perfect tables don’t make peaceful holidays. Love and grace have to bring that.

So this holiday season…

~Let’s focus less on the décor and more on the relationships. The old plates are fine. Let’s throw the old conversations out, if they broke us up.

~Let’s worry less about the noise level of the kids, laughing, running wild and having fun…and more about the noise level of the adults, disagreeing over stupid political sides and Facebook’s this and that.

~Let’s seek peace of the heart kind, not peace of the everything you can see is perfect and picked up by 2pm.

 ~Let’s make Jesus the center, so we can get along with whom we sit.

He’s the perfect holiday peacemaker.

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Prayer Doesn’t Have to Be Intimidating

Do you find yourself frustrated in your communication with God? Does a thriving prayer life feel completely out of reach?

The strength of your prayers lies in your heart intent, not your word count. Discover a new joy in your conversations with God!

Go Back to Where You Lost Your Keys

Go Back to Where You Lost Your Keys

I talked about some things on the Jamie Ivey podcast recently I hadn’t intended.

Turns out, when you feel comfortable in a space with a Jesus girlfriend, you open up old wounds.

It feels like a zillion years ago, but it was actually only 6, that I wrote about some of this in my book, {w}hole, the first and only of all my books to go out of print — which feels weird, too, since it’s more about my life than any of the rest.

I refuse to read into that, by the way. :)

I have a tendency to be before my time, and maybe this book was, maybe the Church wasn’t as ready in 2011 as we are now to finally stop keeping all the secrets.

My father lost his church, lost his way, and so did I. Church people hurt us both and we both hurt church people. We are all the Church so we hurt, all the way around.

The truth is, when church people throw stones, we hurl them at ourselves.

It will make better sense to you if you listen to the Jaime podcast, or if you want, you can read the story in part, HERE. But the basic gist is this: the Church was a place that wounded me. And yet it was the very place God used to heal me and show me the beauty of His face.

Truly, it is as St. Augustine once said, “In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.”

Because I am simple and overloaded by information at the same time, I like to bottom line things…break them down into everyday illustrations so they feel easier to take in small bites and sips. Maybe you can relate to this or maybe you will find I am too simple for you. If it is the latter, I totally understand.

But this church wounding would be difficult for me to both understand and digest, so I needed to find the illustration that helped. I found it, unexpectedly, the other day when I was talking to a friend who was struggling with a hard life something that’s solution to me was crystal clear.

“Go back to where you lost your keys,” I say to her. “Where did you lose them? Retrace your steps, find them, so you know where to go from here.”

Of course, her actual keys weren’t lost. Maybe because I have teens who drive now and hear myself saying these words so often “retrace your steps…where did you lose your keys…” that the words roll off my tongue, even now in illustration. I just knew that the place where my friend became lost in her life, where things broke her in the heart, is where she would need to begin to heal. Lost keys gave a simple, everyday visual.

It was the same for me, with the Church.

I’ve had some counseling, both in my master’s studies, and on the couch side of the desk, but I’m no licensed expert. But I am degreed in what Jesus has taught me. I know what I have lived.

In order to heal from what was broken from the Church, I had to go back to the Church and start there. Staying away permanently wouldn’t help. (Short reprieves are fine and sometimes, necessary.) Shying away from community to self protect wouldn’t solve my inner woundings – it would only increase my loneliness and put me at risk for isolation.

Pain didn’t let me have enough sense to know this. Jesus had to do it, behind the scenes, or I would have said no. He had to use sending me off to speak to the very Church people I was either angry towards or afraid of, thinking I was just obediently using my gifts, when actually, He was doing surgery on my diseased heart, saving my life.

Every unexpected kindness. Every smile and gracious, affirming word. Every immaculate Holy Spirit moment beyond any capability of my own. Ministry that my human pessimism couldn’t kill and didn’t end in disaster. Jesus showing up in my deepest wounding and dazzling me to the deepest core.

He took me back to the place I lost my keys, gently helped me re-trace my steps, and moved me forward. My life has never been the same. But He knew: I had to find my lost keys first.

He knows the same about you.

  1. Go back to where you lost your keys.
  2. Ask Him to dazzle you in your deepest wounding.
  3. Go from there.

p.s. I love you. Jesus loves you most.

Order 5 Word Prayers!

Prayer Doesn’t Have to Be Intimidating

Do you find yourself frustrated in your communication with God? Does a thriving prayer life feel completely out of reach?

The strength of your prayers lies in your heart intent, not your word count. Discover a new joy in your conversations with God!