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.

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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!

Help Us Love Our Neighbor – A 5 Word Prayer from Trillia Newbell

Hi! This is our 3rd amazing guest post in our 5 Word Prayers series, and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Trillia Newbell to the site. Trillia is someone I respect from afar, since we have thus far not met in person, but trust me: it’s my goal and intention for the very near future. Trillia is a wife and mom with many professional and literary credentials to her name: author, speaker, writer for such places as Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition and editor for online publications such as Karis and Women of God magazine. She is currently the Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention and has a mad (please translate as super awesome) Twitter account I love to follow for amazing insight and wisdom and really fabulous truth bombs: @trillianewbell. (Go follow her. For real.)

But the main reason I asked Trillia to post here, is because I knew she would have some important things to say about unity. Not only did she write a book called United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity, but she is living this message in her own life and helping us as she teaches us in the ways to follow God in the important way of racial unity. Lecrae, one of my favorites, just wrote this on Twitter, “Talking about racism is not ‘being political.’ It’s being real.” I agree, 100% and would only add that I believe it is also the heart of God to not only discuss this important issue, but work together to see unity between races. We are all God’s perfect design, and how dare we not see the value in each other.

So it is with great joy I welcome Trillia to our community today — someone you may not know, but I hope you will begin to listen to and follow, as a wise woman of God. Here is her 5 word prayer…

Help us love our neighbor.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

We are a society slightly obsessed with love. We even have a day dedicated to it: Valentine’s Day. Honestly, it’s probably one of my favorite holidays. I like to celebrate it beyond romantic love. I think it’s a great opportunity to show our friend and our neighbor that love isn’t a word that is wasted on trivial things.

In many ways we have trivialized love. We say: “I love hamburgers!” I love my new socks!” “I love the movie Nacho Libre!” Those things are fine but there is something unique, special, and set apart by the type of love God calls us to in relation to people. If we boil love down to only romantic love, we will get it wrong as we relate to others and if we use the word flippantly, we also get it wrong. When I look at the Word, God commands us to a radical love for others. So radical it includes loving our enemies and persecutors (Matt. 5: 43-48) and loving without expectation of receiving love in return (Luke 6: 27-36). But the most challenging call to love in all of Scripture, in my opinion, would be the great commandment love God with all of our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22: 34-40).

Love starts with God and ends with God because God is love. We see this in 1 John 4: 7-8 when he writes:  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4: 7-8). This is a compelling call for Christians to love one another. John explains that love doesn’t originate from us. If we love, it is because we have been “born of God” and “knows God” (4:7). And then John says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (8). God is love. All that we know about God is bound up one way or another in His love.

Our love for each other has great implications. Jesus says that, “by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35). And so we cry out to God for help. We don’t love as we ought to. The radical love Jesus calls for hopes for the best of their neighbor. This love puts on the skin of their neighbor and gains understanding. It prays for all the hopes and dreams and good things that one wishes for self, for the neighbor. If we want unity, we must have love. Needless to say, we can’t do it on our own. But, with God, we can love radically (2 Cor. 5:14-15).


Trillia Newbell is the author a new kids’ book God’s Very Good Idea: A True Story of God’s Delightfully Different Family. You can find her at trillianewbell.com.

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!

I Believe, Help My Unbelief – A 5 Word Prayer from Lore Ferguson Wilbert

Not only is today’s post one of the most powerful, short blogs I’ve ever read, but it is written by one of the most beautiful writers of our time, Lore Ferguson Wilbert. Lore is someone I have long respected, not just for her exquisite way with words, but also for her fidelity to Jesus and the Word of God. In this life, there are those moments we meet a heart that feels kindred, and in the writing ministry world, these moments are reserved for a precious few. I don’t remember when I met Lore online, but I know that when I did some years back, it was an instant connection and knowing we were indeed, kindred hearts. Lore is kind but strong, fair but not unwavering…a woman who continues to keep the main thing the main thing and use her gift of words to point people to the true North.

Lore is a sought out writer for her steadied wisdom on so many important things – one of my true go-to’s when I want a powerful, Word-based perspective. You can find her in these places:

I am honored to have Lore’s words on my blog. I am even more honored to call her my friend.

Here’s her powerful 5 word prayer, helpful to so many of us in our own struggle to believe God.

I Believe, Help My Unbelief

I don’t know if there’s a soul I identify more with in the New Testament than the father of the demoniac in Mark 9. A man of paradox who wasn’t afraid to be both brutally honest about his present circumstances and brutally idealistic about what he wanted to be true of himself instead.

“I believe,” he said. “Help my unbelief.” Two statements that were absolutely true and absolutely opposite at the same time. You can almost see the tearing confliction happening within him in that moment—the same tearing confliction that happens in me almost daily. I feel like a walking conundrum because I am certain of my belief in God and yet, every single day, I am battered by ten-thousand things that want my allegiance above God. This is unbelief, the certainty of anything above God.

I believe.

When we confess the truth of belief, even if it is frail, weak, partial, and imperfect, we worship God with our intentions. My intention is to believe wholly, my desire is to believe perfectly, and I am most strong when he is my strength wholly. Even though I live on a broken planet full of all kinds of suffering, pain, and sin, I can know my God is in heaven and sees it all. My belief is not in the success or fulfillment of what I see as wholeness, but in God himself. The Father’s encompassing love. The Son’s sufficient sacrifice. The help of the Holy Spirit within me. This is where I base my belief—not in the ever changing, always shifting, circumstances around me. I can say “I believe” to the Lord because my belief is not in the certainty of anything but Him.

Help my unbelief.

And yet. Right? Yet. He is certain, yes, yet I am not. He is good, yes, yet I am not. He is faithful, yet I am not. Because I am human, frail, and weak, shaped by the circumstances of my life and by the suffering I’ve experienced, I will have weak faith sometimes. I will struggle to believe Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient—and so I will try to clean myself up on my own, earn my salvation, or crumble under the weight of a shame I’m not meant to carry. I will struggle to live as though the Holy Spirit lives within me, helping and comforting me—and so I will run to other things and people to make me feel whole. I will struggle to know the love of the Father—and so I will run to other people for affection, sufficiency, love, and acceptance. I am riddled with unbelief. This is true of me and so it is okay to say it to God. He can handle my unbelief.

I believe. Help my unbelief.

The power of these two statements comes when they are said together. The ability to say these two conflicting truths in the same breath is the mark of a Christian. It is someone who is absolutely aware of their frailty and absolutely aware of God’s strength. Someone who is absolutely aware of their limitations and absolutely aware of God’s sovereignty. Someone who is absolutely aware of their doubts and absolutely aware of God’s faithfulness. You see? We cannot come to the cross with anything but nothing. We have to approach the throne of God because of his kindness, not our list of good deeds and perfect belief. We have to ask the Spirit constantly for his help because we don’t even have all the words we need to ask for what we need. Christians are walking conundrums, all of us, because our certainty is in the completion of the story and not the journey to get there.

Those with weak faith only pray, “Help my unbelief,” and they think true belief is never possible.

Those with strong faith only pray, “I believe,” and they are surprised when they fail or falter.

Those with real faith pray, in the same breath, to their God, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”


Learn more about Lore Ferguson Wilbert at Sayable.net where she writes passionately for the glory of God alone.

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!

Jesus Started All This

As I write, 65 books are on their way to Alicia to take to female inmates at a correctional facility in Kentucky.

40 more books are on their way to Austin, Texas, to be delivered by my friend, Jamie, to women in a jail, there.

12 will go to Springfield, Missouri, to Beth to take to a women’s recovery house, and 12 more will be hand delivered by me to a halfway house in Orlando, Florida next month.

And we are just getting started.

By the way, it was just 6 days ago this whole thing actually did start. Less than one week.

6 days ago…when the message came in from Alicia via social media, a woman I didn’t know, to simply thank me for my book Put Your Warrior Boots On and my new devotional book 5 Word Prayers, of which she had taken some of the prayers to inmates she visited weekly in a jail. With it, a picture of a woman’s arms and one of the prayers, “thank you for finding me” written in red pen on a stray piece of paper.

She just wanted to say thank you. She didn’t write to ask for a thing.

If we ever wonder if God orchestrates things we do not, may this story be a wild reminder.

Alicia was already doing the God thing, the good thing, the hard thing – she had already said yes to serving God in her corner of the world, ministering to women in a local jail in rural Kentucky when she wasn’t at work being a middle school principal. “Many of the women in the jail have children in my school. It’s one of the reasons I know God sent me there,” she tells me in one of later online talks.

She couldn’t have known things I never told anyone but family and my editor — that while I was writing 5 Word Prayers the Lord pressed me to include in the book the Prayer of Salvation, sensing that some that might read this book might not know Jesus Christ. Nor could she have known that after I wrote 5 Word Prayers, God spoke to my heart and told me I needed to get it in the hands of inmates, which made close to no sense due to the fact I don’t have an active part of my ministry dedicated to jail ministry, nor have I ever…nor could she have known I was so desperate to do this that I had a ministry comrade put out an ask for me on Facebook about a month ago, inquiring about jail ministry, to no real leads. So I let the idea drop, thinking maybe I misheard from God.

And then 6 days ago, Alicia – a day I will forever think of now as the day God laid #PrayersforInmates in my lap.

I don’t have a lot of great writer words for you in this post, I’ll admit. Turns out, when God does epic, unexpected things, it tends to take your tongue.

All I know is we are walking this thing out, you and me. God started the whole thing. Alicia sent the message. I picked up the need and put out the call. And you ran with it. Truly, a Jesus pipeline.

We got more books than we needed for Alicia’s female Kentucky inmates, double within no time, and then, more than that.

As of today, we are nearing 200.

I’m blown away by God and yet, not at all surprised. What He starts, He completes, and leads all the way through. We just have to tether in tight.

And now, we are getting orders from all over the United States. More correctional facilities, more inmates: requests from South Dakota, North Carolina, West Virginia, Florida, (another area in) Kentucky, Alaska, to name a few.

We will keep going. And we will need more books.

And Jesus knows all this because He started all this, and I trust Him to work it all out.

He writes the best stories, and if we go along, we are in for a wild ride.

Click here to gift a book to an inmate

**If you have a correctional facility and would like to request 5 Word Prayers for inmates, click HERE.

I love you. I love these inmates. I love Jesus most.

 

 

 

**At this time, we are filling requests by individuals/ministries/volunteers for groups only. Due to logistics and the large response, we aren’t able to offer individual inmate requests. If you have a particular correctional facility you would like to make a request for (one your inmate is in that you hope to get to book to), please fill out the contact form. All requests will be considered, but we cannot fill every one at this time. Pray with us for more books to be able to help as many people as possible! Thank you for your understanding.

Help Me Raise My Gaze – A 5 Word Prayer from Sharon Hodde Miller

Hi friend!

October is going to be a great month on this blog for this reason: I’ve silenced my fingers on the keyboard to hear from some of my wisest friends. I wrote forty 5 word prayers in the 5 Word Prayers Devotional Book, but I wasn’t able to cover it all. So I saved a seat here and invited some friends with focused passions and insights on topics we struggle with to help us: about self-focus, racial unity/love, doubting God, and mental health. I can’t wait for you to read their wisdom all month.

First up is my dear friend, Sharon Miller, the author of brand new book, Free of Me: Why Life is Better When it’s Not About You. Sharon has wrestled with the self-help culture that pitches promises of fulfillment but rings empty and has mined important truth through the process of finding her place by looking only to God.

In my personal endorsement of Free of Me I write: “What a gift to our me-first culture. This book is a sweet discipling on every page. I’m grateful for the message of Free of Me and the lives it will truly set free.”

I believe in the message Sharon writes in her book and the message of 5 Word Prayers. I’ve asked Sharon to write her own 5-word prayer, that it might be a spark to ignite deeper intimacy with your Creator, as you take the focus off you and place it on God. I can say firsthand that this shift in focus for me has completely changed my life (and something I constantly have to pray to do).

Help Me Raise My Gaze

It’s hard not to look in a mirror, isn’t it?

Most of us can’t walk past a mirror—or any reflective surface—without checking ourselves out, and I am among the worst! When I was in college, I was eating lunch with an older woman from church. She was a mentor to numerous women my age, and we sat across from one another chatting while we ate. Out of nowhere she interrupted herself and asked, “Is there a mirror behind me? You keep looking past me.”

She craned her neck around and, sure enough, there it was. A mirror. I had been looking at myself the entire meal.

This story still embarrasses me to think about, but it’s also a common behavior. Looking at your reflection is practically a human reflex. If you walk by a mirror, you are going to take a look. We all do it.

This reflex is powerful. It’s so powerful that we apply it to nearly everything in our lives: relationships, possessions, appearance, career. We look to these things and ask, “What do they say about me? What do they say about my worth?”

I call this the “mirror reflex,” and the mirror reflex is so powerful that we even do it to God. We open the Bible and ask, “What does this say about me?” We turn to Jesus and ask, “What do you think about me?” The answers to those questions are important, but the mirror reflex is so compelling that we run a particular risk:

If we always begin by asking, “What does the Bible say about me?” we might not ever reach the point of asking, “What does the Bible say about God?”

This is a temptation we all face, so much so that it has even shaped Christian teaching. Many messages run heavy on our identity, our purpose, and our worth. All good things. But if this is the majority of what we speak and what we hear, it slowly places us at the center of God’s story.

It also places us at the center of the gospel. As if Jesus came to earth and died, simply to help us like ourselves.

We need to fight this temptation, and we need to resist the mirror reflex. Because as much as God loves us, and as much as He restores us, a human-centered gospel cannot save. Our faith will be powerless if, at the end of the day, it’s mostly about us.

And so we ask God to raise our gaze off of ourselves and onto Him. We ask Him to disrupt the gravitational pull of our self-focus, and re-orient our souls toward Him. We ask His Spirit to help us achieve what we cannot do on our own, and to fix our eyes on the One who sets us free.


Sharon Hodde Miller is a pastor’s wife, mother to two small boys, and author of Free of Me. In addition to earning her PhD, Sharon has blogged at SheWorships.com for nearly ten years, making God’s Word accessible to women everywhere. She has been a regular contributor to Propel and Her.meneutics, and has written for RelevantChristianity Today, (in)courage, She Reads Truth, and many other publications and blogs. She speaks regularly on topics ranging from leadership to body image to Scripture. She lives with her family in the Raleigh/Durham area.

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!

I Want More People to Give Their Heart to Jesus

I’ve written 6 books now, and in every book, I’ve hoped for someone to read it and get saved. To date, I’m not sure if that’s ever happened.

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I asked Jesus into my heart when I was a young girl, and it was for real. I loved Him deep my whole life, though I had my fair share of running away. But I innately knew even then He was everything, and I always wanted people to know Him like I did.

When I was a teenager, my youth group took a trip to Canada, and there I had my first experiences with leading people to the Lord. It was a beautiful, holy experience, I’ll tell you, albeit a bit over the top. God bless my youth pastor who had to quietly take me aside to discourage my exuberant, “I got another one!” as I walked wide grinning with new converts towards our group across freshly mowed lawns of homes as we went door to door witnessing. Turns out, my Jesus passion translated a bit cultish. (Turns out, I was so excited I barely cared. :)

When I started writing 5 Word Prayers it was clear to me that this being a devotional book, some would give it to friends as a gift and those friends might not know Jesus. And if they didn’t know Jesus, they wouldn’t understand all the Christian words.

I mourn this, but sometimes as a writer sitting behind a screen spending so much time exhorting my own, I forgo opportunities to tell non-believers living all around me about Jesus. If I’m being completely honest, I think the Church in general is forgetting a lot about this Gospel call these days, self-focused as we are and afraid to speak anything with too much Jesus.

So I decided to do something in 5 Word Prayers I’ve never done before in any of my books: I included in the back the prayer of salvation. It is, by far, the most important prayer in this book. For 11 pages I thoroughly explain, define and lead the reader through a decision to follow Christ and then the next steps to take in the aftermath. I truly believe: they are the most important words I’ve ever written in my life.

I am asking Jesus that people will accept Him as their Savior through these words. I would love it if you would join me. My heart can barely contain the joy at the thought.

And because I believe so strongly in discipleship, my team has created a place online at fivewordprayers.com for those who do pray this prayer of salvation to click “Yes, I prayed the prayer” where they will be sent some links to free resources to help them grow in their newfound faith. (It tells them exactly where to go to find this online, in the book.)

I just want more people to give their heart to Jesus.

I’m believing through this book and your prayers, they will.

Lord, let it be.