I see all these things on social media lately, saying do this to be strong or do that…memes that circulate cheering us for finally being heard women as if women with a voice were something new all of a sudden.
Just ask my momma- I have been speaking up for myself since I was little and wore exactly what I wanted, including those jean gauchos over and over, again. My cute Dorothy Hamill cut had them all underestimating. Dawn was never my middle name. Strong was.
But right ideas can come in wrong packages, and sometimes trying so hard to make a statement proves nothing but the hard trying and the desperation to prove what needs not be proven when it’s really there.
Please hear me clearly: I want us to be strong. I just want us to be the right kind so it will last and influence and draw people to Jesus rather than promote some burning need in self.
The truth is, we don’t have time for a manufactured strong. We need the real kind to deal with this world’s level of crazy.
The wrong strong says:
- I must be brave. I must muster up some type of human awesome in a moment of fear or opposition.
The truth? Our human bursts of brave won’t be enough to cut it in this tough world. Anything in our strength has an expiration date attached to it. Eventually, we will need more than our brave can offer.
- I must be loud. I must speak up, always say my piece, say what I feel without regard to consequence.
The truth? The book of James in the Bible says we are responsible for what we say and how we say it. Strength is a huge ship turned by its tiny rudder, not sailing into wild winds. (James 3)
- I must be true to myself. I must focus on me as my greatest love, do what works for me, answer to myself.
The truth? This is humanism at its finest. Being true to ourselves is not strength, it is self worship. It is a paper tiger mindset, which can lead to endless roads of heartache. (It is also not the same as living a life of truth, setting healthy boundaries, accepting and loving ourselves, all of which I joyfully endorse.)
- I must be unapologetic. I must never apologize for anything I want to do or act on and never give concern to the people who differ in belief from me.
The truth? “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” (Phil. 2:3 NIV); “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14); “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
I know. Some of these things don’t feel wrong. They feel right. They feel good. They feel very now, very in, very earned, especially among we who have age to thank for bringing out some I’m grown and can now do what I want in us.
But we know by now that feelings can’t be the boss of us if we want to live well.
And if the point is to be truly strong and if this isn’t it, don’t we want to know?
I don’t want to miss true strength because a cheap substitute stole its identity. Then I go through life thinking I’m something I’m not only to find out it was all just awesome material for a meme.
No, I want the real strong. I want Jesus Strong.
Jesus strong is:
~a steadfastness…that cannot be moved by circumstance or popular opinion. When everyone else says yes, Jesus strong helps us say no. It’s a steadiness that people are drawn to because it offers stability in the midst of reactionary lives.
~a wisdom…that goes beyond education or IQ. Jesus strong people are wise. They have sage things to say and a consistent message that points in one direction — His.
~a depth…that understands and sees and gets the bigger picture and draws people in to that maturity.
~a boldness…that goes beyond natural personality or personal angst or vendetta and is driven by love and commitment to the Gospel.
~a passion…that catches on, inspires, sparks and ignites.
Friends, it’s not about memes or jean gauchos. It’s about what kind of strong do we want: the kind the world is selling that exhausts and expires…or the kind that comes from the real place, the life-giving place that will last?
I choose Jesus Strong.
**For much more on this, sign up for my FREE 5-day Study called Jesus Strong! Sign-up and info here: Study starts Monday, April 10 with 5 days of emails to your inbox and 3 days of Facebook lives to go with! Don’t miss this!
Free 5-Day Bible Study
Feeling like you aren’t sure how to be strong, truly strong in this day and time? Struggle with standing up for what you believe, having a strong mind, loving people, having discipline and being able to be strong in the midst of your trial? We will cover these things and how to walk Jesus Strong in them. During the 5 days, you can see replays of 3 Facebook live videos where I am joined by some amazing special guests!
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.
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.
If I may, first…this post is about taking time to care about people, not a persuasion piece against boundaries/saying no or intended to guilt recovering people pleasers into regret over necessary life adjustments they have made. If you struggle with boundaries, please read Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend and deal with that important issue, first. I do not suggest now or ever that people substitute in my assessment from a blog post for their personal heart convictions. My goal is to help us see things in a way we haven’t seen them before…consider important things we may need to change. Honestly: I just want to help us and point this world to The Hope. p.s. I love you.
My best friend, Colleen, tells me something over the phone last week – about how her pastor-husband does a funeral for a man and only 5 people show up. I hear this, and I feel sad. (Remember this for later.)
Just a few days after that, my in-laws drive in from the beach where they live, almost 4 hours away, and we arrange to meet them for frozen yogurt, so they can see the kids on their way back home.
7 Whittles, all sitting around 2 tables, yogurt piled high in cups, toppings of choice sitting proudly on top. What was the reason for your quick trip, again? I ask my father-in-law, sharing the table with my husband and me. I know he had just gotten home a little more than 24 hours before after being gone all week. I also know they had driven nearly 4 hours…to just a few short hours later, turn around and drive home. I hadn’t yet asked them about the why behind it. Surely they have a very good reason for this kind of trip.
Our pastor’s grandmother died and we came for her funeral, he says between bites, like it’s the most normal thing in the world. I repeat this for clarification, thinking surely I heard wrong. Your pastor’s grandmother? I ask, with the emphasis on grandmother. I know it can’t be. Lots of people won’t drive across town for someone’s funeral, let alone drive 8 hours (roundtrip) in one day for one.
Umm-hmm, he says, casually. It is clear the yogurt is more interesting to him than the topic of conversation. Did you know her? I ask, guessing it will be a yes. Nope, he says, matter-of-factly and digs his spoon back into his cup.
My husband and I sideways glance but save our words to each other for later. That’s pretty incredible, I say back, and I mean it. I’m honestly floored and don’t know what else to say. I know my in-laws to jump in the car and drive hours to be at my children’s birthday parties. That sort of thing has been happening for years, and what a blessing it’s been to my kids. But to do the same for a stranger, even if the grandson of the decreased is your pastor and you love him deeply? I’m in awe.
I struggle to make it to birthday parties 10 miles down the road for kids my kids grew up with and have half lived in my home.
I only attend funerals for people I really know and have meant something pretty significant to my life. Otherwise, I don’t even think twice about staying home.
It could be just me, but I don’t think so. Lots of people I know who care about my son didn’t come to his graduation party. They were busy, I knew. It’s not like I’ve kept mental track in my head of who was invited but wasn’t there and been upset about it. But some that meant a lot to him didn’t come, for whatever reason, and I think this is not unusual.
Only 5 people showed up to that guy’s funeral my friend’s husband did. (Remember…the start of this post?) No matter the why, it’s still a tough reality. Surely he had other people who had known and cared for him in his 60 something years of life. Were they busy mowing their lawn that day? Were they too tired to mess with going? Would that have been me, too, if he were someone I knew?
I hope not. But I must be honest. We all have a million excuses for why we matter to ourselves more than other people. We don’t say that, but it’s true. Just look at our mostly me-focused calendars.
And I think about how we are all so ridiculously busy that we don’t even have time to call our mother to ask how she is many days, let alone take a day out to drive hours to a funeral for a person we do not even know. And how we don’t go to parties and things like that anymore for someone else because they don’t fit into our pre-planned agenda. We don’t want to do something? We don’t. Edit, edit, edit until all that’s left are mostly my things.
I can’t help but wonder if in all our necessary life edit, important as it is, we’ve edited out showing up for people. Could it be that in all our life de-cluttering we have begun to see people as clutter, too, and thrown them right out like those spoons in the kitchen taking up too much space?
I must be the first to confess it: this is sometimes, me.
Self-care is a yes. People-care is a yes, too. Our problem is we typically choose one or the other when both are what makes our heart truly happy and the world a better place, in the end. (God, for the win, with the balance.)
The truth is, we don’t have the power to solve everything, but we can do one by one things. If we don’t like the way the world treats its people, may we start a new trend. Rest assured…one day, in one way or another, we will need the people to show up for us, too.
When we show up for people we chip away at the climate of selfishness in our own lives. (Which, by the way, FEELS GOOD.)
When we show up for people we make the world better, even in just one kind act.
We are all half sad and crazy, walking around here on earth, everyday, wondering what in the world to do to help all the madness go away.
I think showing up for people is a good place to start.
I’m so excited…in a grateful, honored, still pinch myself that this is what I get to do with my life kind of way.
(p.s.Sometimes writing books still seems like a dream I fell into rather than dreamed up (well, because it was) – one others may be more qualified for but none more passionate about, I can promise you that.)
I’m releasing 3 new books/projects with Harvest House Publishers in 2017, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Currently, I’m in the midst of writing my forthcoming book: Put Your Warrior Boots On: Walking Jesus Strong, Once and For All. In case you haven’t noticed, the world is in kind of a mess. I have been praying and thinking long and hard (like it keeps me up at night sometimes) about how to live in the mess better, and I believe God has given me the how-to. Put Your Warrior Boots On is an equipping and strength-inducing book. It is a what-do-we-do-right-now book. It is a book to help we, the followers of Jesus, live with a better strategy – not one of reaction and hopelessness and fear, but one of real, true strength. I want us to be steady, ready and sure as we walk in this world gone crazy. (p.s. Yes, we can be.) I want us to stop trying to brave ourselves into it. (Seriously can’t wait to talk to you more about THIS and share what I’ve learned about it because I think the shift in perspective may help you as it has me.) I want us to be consistent in our relationship with God instead of riding the spiritual roller coaster, once and for all. I want us to walk in His authority like He’s told us to do – with effectiveness in the world and tunnel vision on heaven. We are here and the world is not getting better and we can’t keep wishing things were different – we have to change up how we live to be solid and sturdy, no matter what comes our way. We need this, right? Man, how we need it.
I want you to know: it is with the softest of hearts and the deepest of love and the strongest of speech I write it. It is proving to be very much like writing I Want God, in the sense that the urgency is a second skin I’m wearing, the revelations from God are swift and piercing, and I find myself eager to hear what He has to tell me, every time I sit down to type. I cannot wait to share more as the release date approaches, as I believe there has never been a more important time to release a book like this. Release date: April 1, 2017
My second book is a different kind of book for me, and I’m so excited about it, too. It’s called 5 Word Prayers: A 40-day Devotional, to help kick start our prayer life in a way that is both doable and powerful. (We don’t need to talk about how ABSOLUTELY VITAL prayer is, especially right now in this crazy world, right? Like…prayer is everything. For real.) For years people have been asking me if I would write a devotional book, and for years I’ve thought about it but never moved forward. I’ve long believed that with our prayers, it’s not about word count but about heart intent. The documented prayers of Jesus are short. The older I get the more I realize that prayer is not me saying as many words as I can but listening and being with Him in communion, where our hearts unite. For this reason, this devotional book. This book will not only provide daily 5 word prayers, but it will also include a short devotional written about each prayer to help it really seep down deep. I have lots of love and belief in this book, and I hope you will be as excited as I am about it. Release Date: Fall of 2017
And last but absolutely not least…with the release of 5 Word Prayers will be the release of a super fun companion adult coloring book by the same name. I know ya’ll love these things. I know they are flying off the shelves like crazy. And I believe in this case, each coloring page and accompanying prayer will be something not only you can fly your creative flag with, but also meditate on and maybe even frame and hang on your wall as art or give as a gift to someone else. You should know I’m hardcore committed to these coloring pages being beautifully and meaningfully graphic. So I hired the absolute best, most talented freelance artist to draw the sketches. She just so happens to be my baby sister, so she shares my DNA. I still can’t even believe I was able to hire her – she works in an art gallery and draws sketches all day FOR A LIVING, and I begged her to squeeze me in. (Family has its privileges.) So you know…this project is going to be fantastic and is truly a labor of love. Go ahead and plan on it being one of your Christmas gifts for someone in 2017. Release Date: Fall of 2017.
Well, there it is. These are my new projects. I hope you are as eager to get them as I am to get them to you.
So many of you have spread the word about I Want God and as a result, helped change lives. (For real. You should hear the stories.)
So many of you are faithful readers to the messages God has put on my heart to share. I wish you knew how humbling this feels and how much responsibility it brings to my heart, and how seriously I take it.
I think you and I are on the exact same page. I believe we share the same heart.
If you, like me, want to live with a better strategy, want to walk Jesus strong instead of walking tentative, defensive and reactionary, want to be the steady and sure believer of Jesus that He can use in this world in these crazy days to influence the rest of the world…if you, like me, sometimes feel like prayer books make me feel more intimidated about my prayer life, like I don’t measure up, love the idea of 5 powerful prayer words to pray every day for 40 days to better communicate with God…and if sometimes you just like to be a little artsy but are intimidated by Pinterest :)…these books are for you.
Can’t wait to share them.
Thanks for letting me share my new projects…and my life…with you.
I’m so stinkin’ excited I can’t stand it.
Today is the day I get to tell you about what’s been brewing in my heart that may well involve YOU.
What I have to tell you is about laughter and rest and community and prayer and someone cooking for you, 3 amazing meals a day…communion, affirming each other, and throwing a big old Jesus party in the end.
It is about diving into the Word and focusing squarely on Jesus, in our UGG boots and sweatshirts, if we want (p.s. Mine will be off-brand).
It is about silencing the rush of life for a few days, making new friends in real life we may well have, forever.
All of this will happen, and this is how I know: I’m hosting my own retreat so I get to plan the agenda.
Yep. I am. HOSTING MY OWN RETREAT. (Enter gleeful squeals. Listen, I love being asked to go places and speak but there is something about doing my own thing that makes me gloriously happy.)
Who: Women. 18-up. COME ON.
When: January 7-9, 2017
Where: St. Francis Prayer Center, Stoneville, NC (near Greensboro) (www.stfrancissprings.com)
Besides the awesome stuff listed above, let me tell you why now, why this.
I have a new book releasing in April 2017 I haven’t told you about yet. (But I will. Soon.) I am thick in the writing of it right now, and I am so very excited about what God is speaking to me on the message of where we, as believers, need to be and how we need to walk in these very dark and difficult times. I truly believe the words in this book can change the climate of our lives: from nervous and anxious and freaking out to steady, ready and strong. There has never been a better time for this message, and I’m grateful to bring it.
I want to speak it to you, first. I want to share with you the entire book in several sessions…gather with you, some faithful supporters of this ministry, in an intimate setting. I need your feedback. I want to hear your heart. I want us to travel together through this idea of becoming steady and strong. The world needs us, warrior sisters. We need each other.
This retreat will allow me to get personal with you, like I always strive to be when I write a Facebook post or blog or post an Instagram picture. But I want more than that. I want to pour into your lives in a deeper way, meet many of you for the first time face to face, pray with you, connect you with other new friends who share the same heart, and teach you some things God has been teaching me, on a stool in jeans, not from a stage like usual. I crave this facetime and interaction.
And yes, we will do some other important things like video tape some sessions (YOU will be the audience – so fun!). But we will also go off script from a normal retreat and really spend some time listening to God. I don’t know about you, but I need Him desperately in this world gone crazy.
p.s. Last week, I told some of my closest ministry friends about this and some of have registered and are coming, too. I would tell you who but I fear you will sign up for the wrong reason. :) Oh, it’s going to be a big, big time, I’ll tell you that.
Now here’s the thing. The slots for this retreat are extremely limited. Like less than 30. I’m praying and believing they will quickly go. So get on the phone and text that girlfriend and sign up, today. For real.
Inevitably, some of your questions…
Question 1: Lisa…if I come, what will I get?
I’m so glad you asked. :)
Lots of cool stuff.
(8) teaching sessions on a not-yet-released book
Advance reader copy of my new book
Some new book swag
3 cooked meals a day (Please. Someone cooking for me? For this, alone, people.)
Beautiful retreat center to play and rest
Prayer, community, communion and affirmation
And for you writer types: here’s a big cool other reason to come: I’m throwing in **one bonus session on the nitty gritty of writing/publishing/no one ever tells you this stuff. A lot of you want to write a book, I know. This is your time to find out all about it. All your questions. Bring them. Anything. The not talked about stuff. We’ll dive in.
Question 2: Lisa…what is the cost?
Super duper affordable – that’s what. :)
Cost of the retreat: $200 for double occupancy (2 nights, 3 days and all of the above).
*Nearest airport, if you are flying in: Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO), Greensboro, NC
So, that’s my big news. I hope you’ll consider coming. I want you to be a part, and I would love nothing more than to see you there.
If yes, click THIS LINK RIGHT NOW to register.
p.s. See you in January! Truly can’t wait.