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.
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.
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’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.
Struggling through an imperfect life. Doing great things. Doing hard things. Doing things we aren’t proud of and some we really, really are.
Loving people well. Treating people less than. Losing our temper, forgetting to take hold of the battle for our mind and watching it slip from us.
Food that makes us happy. Weight that makes us sad. Community over the table, which is the forgotten best thing.
And oh, those consuming cell phones.
Broken relationships, friends who just know and make us feel loved. Sometimes, getting the flowers or the the card or the text, just in time.
Making progress…falling back and feeling worse. Crazy broken everyday but still, hope in our core.
Doing well with God. Leaving God out of things, completely. Praying like mad or days without prayer, at all.
Crying because we are sad, crying because it’s better than we hoped. Laughing over nothing and everything and the funniest things.
Pets we love and gardens we tend and places we drive and meals we cook and laundry we do and those jobs in nice clothes, too.
People we hug and private pains in our heart, over loves who’ve gone to heaven and people who hurt us here, on earth.
Weak bodies, strong bodies, old bodies we don’t recognize anymore.
Winning things, losing things, holding onto things too long and letting go of things too soon or sometimes, right on time.
Worries, so many, even when we know we shouldn’t. Bursts of faith that surprise us but give us proof we truly can believe with all our heart.
All I know, today, is that we are all human and doing all of these things, no matter what pictures on social media we see or ones we dream up in our minds. We are beautiful people and difficult people, all at the same time, none who will ever be perfect.
And I’m just really grateful for Jesus.
One day we will start our real best life and all get better.
That’s honestly it.
P.S. Press on. I will, too. I love you.
#alwaysGodonlyGod #presson #weareallhuman
This is the moment I tell you, first, that I do not have this parenting thing down.
In case you need proof, ask my children, who this morning are likely reeling from a heated conversation last night with the 5 of us I’m not at all sure was led by the Spirit. I woke up this morning, like I have many days in the past 18 years of being a parent: feeling like I have failed, colossally, and my kids will pay the tab.
So an expert does not write this post. Believe that.
Good thing perfection is not a requirement to share a few things I’m learning and have learned.
I have read many parenting books, of which I think are heart-in-the-right-place great…that tell me 8,000 things to do to parent these kids of ours…and yet no book has ever held me in the dark times. No book has ever been there to ask: what now? when an issue threw me for a loop, unique to my kid(s) and their exact situation. I’ve called my own mom in those times. I’ve read the Bible, even just for the comfort. Most of the time, I’ve just ugly cried. Ask my dog. She knows.
The reality for me is this: don’t tell me too many things to do or I will become overwhelmed and not do any. I’m simple. Spell it out for me. I suspect we make too many parenting things complicated. It’s true: parenting is complicated. But then, it’s really not. I think it’s mostly just hard. It’s really about trial and error, teaching the core, heart things, forgiving ourselves, being open and honest, and begging God for help.
If I boil it all down, there’s really only one thing I want to say to parents, particularly the ones raising kids a little younger than mine who ask me from time to time, what to do.
Parent hard and play hard.
This is not rocket science, my friends. (Thank goodness.) It’s my simple offer of parenting advice in my 18 years of learning.
Do the hard work of parenting and then play your guts out with your kids.
- Dive in headfirst and stay in the deep. There will be times you will be tempted like crazy to get lazy because you are so very tired, and not just in the bones (heart weary, too). Don’t go MIA and bail. Stay with them when they are gross. Stay with them when they are annoying. Stay with them when they don’t like you at all. Dive in the second you find out you are going to be their parent and STAY, forever.
- Let them know their place. These kids are so entitled now, we, the condescending adults say. But who gave them this permission? Surely we must look in the mirror. Since when were our kids, yes, these precious humans we would die for, supposed to be our entire world? Since when were they supposed to come before God? This is a tough one, parenting friends. I preach to myself. Perhaps they will not expect the things they do from this world (and us) if we feed them this message from the beginning: I love you. I am your parent until the end. But God will always come first. This is parenting hard, parenting well.
- Correct and realign. Correct and realign. Repeat. As a mom, I am officially a broken record. I say the exact things, over and over, again. Sometimes I hate the sound of my own voice, saying them. But this is my job. I say the same things, even when I don’t think they are getting it. I preach the same messages about the same things because I know, I can either preach about many things or I can preach about a few that really matter. My husband and I have chosen to preach the few, tirelessly. I’m not sure if it’s worked, but we can sleep at night knowing we’ve taught the important lessons. From day one, let them know they live with a standard and keep that standard in place (while flexing with discernment by the help of the Holy Spirit in the million little different circumstances), no matter the cost.
- Fight to the end. You are your kid’s pit bull. Never let them go and never let give up. Be relentless. Be the advocate. Fight for their pure mind and heart. Fight for their integrity. Fight for their kindness and responsibility and reputation. Fight and never stop fighting. This does not mean you take on their every issue…please, parents, let them fight, too. It just means never secede to the enemy. Draw a line in the sand and let him know: you can’t have my kids.
- Deny the urge to make it about you. As my son is nearing graduation in a few weeks, this principle has come into heavy play. (I’m writing about that soon, so look for it.) This is tough love and tough truth for all of us: we make so much of parenting about us. Parenting hard is denying to make the urge about us, even when we can or desperately want to.
I just want to be their friend = our desire to have a buddy at the detriment of their growth and development as a person. If you parent hard now when they grow to be an adult, you will get to be friends. It’s worth the wait.
I just want them to be happy = our misunderstanding of life which causes them to have self-focused life goals. So much heartbreak and compromise has happened in this world, in peoples lives, all in the name of just wanting to be happy. This can’t be the goal, lest our kids spend their life on an empty chase.
I just don’t want them to go through that = our selfish desire to rescue so we can feel better. Sometimes, you let them fall. Sometimes, you let them find out for themselves. This is hard. This is where they learn and we don’t cripple them. This is good parenting.
I just don’t know anything about social media = our lazy parenting which exposes our desire to live in denial. But I don’t know what I’m doing, we say. Doesn’t matter. Join the crowd. Learn. Become an expert. We can’t afford not to know. (Refer back to being a pit bull.)
- Warrior through with prayer. Parenting hard is praying hard. You won’t survive with it. The end.
And thank the Lord, this is not where parenting ends. We do the hard (it’s a lot of hard, to be honest.) And then, with equal fervor, we play hard with our kids.
- Laugh. Laugh, a lot. Laugh, freely. Your kids are funny, life is funny, the family is funny: laugh. Our kids need to see us laugh and they need us to laugh with them. No parent who parents hard will negate their parenting role by letting down and laughing. Laughing makes us all human. It puts it all in the same space. It unites a family. Have inside jokes between the family: trust me, if just for the fact you would be horrified anyone else knew, it will bond you.
- Be weird. I have no science to back this up. All I can tell you is my kids know I’m weird and I suspect they like it a tiny bit. (They will not admit this, so do not even waste your time asking.) I see it in their eyes: when I call them a million weird nicknames, talk in my weird voice, kiss the bottom of their big feet. I think it’s amazing to embrace the weird. It helps us all not take ourselves to seriously and wind up in a straightjacket.
- Take trips together. Listen. I know it’s expensive to take trips. I know raising kids is already expensive. But we spend money on a million different things, and I think trips need to be a priority. (Think back to your childhood. What do you remember but maybe the trips?) I’m not talking extravagant trips, here. Those are nice, but so are trips to the nearby lake where you skip rocks, old school. Pack a picnic. Tell your favorite things about each other. There’s a lot of love and wisdom between you. It’s amazing what happens when you get away from the grind and routine and play and explore in a new place, together.
- Play games. Yes, the table kind. Yes, the outdoor kind. Yes to scavenger hunts. Yes to tag. Yes to Uno. Yes to Mexican Train. Yes to a puzzle. (My kids say no, but yes.)
- Have both conventional and unconventional traditions. Some of our family traditions you would expect and some would make you look at me with side-eye. Some are spiritual and some are most definitely not. But they are all ours. And this makes them special.
By the grace of God, parents, we are all on the growing up journey. We fail, we fall, we rise, we risk, we love, we play.
Mostly, we just live in a space of grateful for the opportunity to mold humans into really great people.
Let’s parent hard and play hard and when we do: rest in knowing we’ve done our best.