I Guess I’m a Dirty Christian

Image from Catholic.org “Christians shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty to save others from sin”

There’s a movement flowing through Christianity at the moment. A movement that perhaps was sparked by thought leaders like Brennan Manning, Martin Luther King Jr, Henri Nouwen, Marianne Williamson and Shaine Claiborne. The movement was set ablaze after the election when so many Christians, like myself, found it inexplicable that the GOP could be so heavily endorsed by the Evangelical Church. We simply cannot understand how the teachings of Jesus who told us to care for the poor, welcome the refugee, and bless the sick, can be fulfilled through politically conservative policies. This has become about so much more than one or two issues (abortion and gay marriage, for example) this is about tone. It’s about underlying motivations for policies. The motivations feel very un-Christian to us. It feels like many Christians just want people to follow their rules instead of truly caring about the people involved. This has created a great deal of angst.

This angst has caused us to start asking… Where is Jesus in all of this?

We’re starting to ask questions about Biblical context.

We’re starting to broaden our views of what the term “pro-life” means.

Best of all, we’re starting to throw-off the facade that being a Christian means to have it all together.

Surely, we are re-defining Christianity. Many of my friends have said lately that they don’t even want to take on the label of “Christian” anymore because of the connotations that come with that. The vibe that comes with this label is one that feels self-serving, self-righteous, self-reliant. This feels so wrong compared to the tone of Jesus who displayed humility, sacrificial love, and deep dependence.

So what does this new wave of Christians look like? Well…

We may cuss. Continue reading

Dear Christian Men, We Need You

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First, I want to thank you for reading this. Whether you subscribe to my blog (extra points!) or a woman in your life forwarded it to you (even better, extra points with her!). Just the fact that you’re reading this is evidence that you care about the women in your life. I appreciate your heart. This really isn’t another political opinion article trying to sway you to vote for the candidate of my choice. I will not be promoting a vote for Hillary or anyone else. This is a call for you and other men of faith to please tread cautiously and intentionally this election cycle for the sake of those you care about most. Because the truth is, we desperately need you to.

Let’s take a step back from this whole circus for a minute. Take GIANT step back, keep going. Ahhh, isn’t that nice? We can breathe easier over here. So from here we can see that there’s a guy running for President of the USA who totally breaks political barriers, he’s not a political puppet, he’s radical. Finally, someone out of the box.  Finally, someone who isn’t “playing the game.” Pretty cool right? And then, equally cool, there’s actually a woman running for president, for the very first time! This is so great because now you know you really can tell your daughter that she can be anything she wants to be. She really could be President of the United States of America. That is so awesome.

Now, you know this article is about women so let’s talk about that for a sec. Let’s turn our back away from the whole election completely and look at what life in America is like for the women you love in your life. I want you to think about your mom, your wife, your daughter, your niece. For many reasons that I won’t get into here, these loves of your life are being paid less than men with equal qualifications. This isn’t necessarily your fault, so no need to get defensive here, just let it be what it is: reality.

Keep thinking about your daughter, your niece, your wife, your mom… They are more likely to be victims of sexual violence. Imagine that. This is primarily because women are globally disrespected and objectified. Continue reading

Serving Jesus When You’re Covered in Spit-Up

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Jenny and Michael are going to Africa… again. They’re going to de-worm a million kids, build the area’s first university, nearly eradicate West Nile Virus, and then end it all by awkwardly bobbing to worship music while dripping in sweat surrounded by ever-grateful dancing townspeople. (Please excuse the gross stereotyping and ridiculous exaggeration- it’s all coming from a bitter mind.) The couple stand before us all now, sharing with the congregation what prayer requests they have and other stuff probably. I don’t know because now I’m standing over the bathroom sink vigorously scrubbing spit-up off of my shirt. Jenny’s off to save the world and I reek of sour milk. Score.

I hate this feeling. Jealousy gets me nowhere. Right? I know it doesn’t. But I just really love Jesus and really want to do stuff for him. Be his hands and feet you know? I’m actually being serious. Just a touch of sarcasm. I’m a very passionate person. My heart literally HURTS real pain when I read about suffering in the world. I immediately want to act. I can’t tell you how many other moms I have heard grumble about the fact that we want to go to Africa (or fill in your mission field here) too. It’s hard not to feel like a waste of space when your Christian counterparts are making huge waves for the Kingdom and you’re just trying to make it through the next wave of laundry.

Shrug shoulders. It’s just a season. It’ll be over before you know it. My time will come… So just suck it up and wait until then.

I’m calling bull.

The first thing the enemy wants you to believe is that you are not important for the Kingdom. Go ahead and get sucked-up in tummy-time, then lesson plans, carpooling, perfecting cookie-monster cupcakes… whatever. Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is an incredibly important job. But it is never our most important job. Our most important job always, is to be a disciple of Jesus.

The enemy has so succeeded in making us feel so lowly and unimportant that we forget that our sanctification (becoming like Christ) is numero uno. It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t get a spot light.

But when your kid gets cancer.

Or your husband has an affair.

Or your Mom has a stroke.

Or your community encounters a natural disaster.

Your heart is ready to respond. It’s ready to respond in a Christ-like way. You are grounded in His peace, love and wisdom- in the midst of the chaos.

In a way, even though we detest it, we see this season as a sort of “pass” to not engage deeply in the spiritual life. We know that God knows we are quite indisposed and can’t possibly serve the way others can. We know he gives grace. And he does. But there’s also this:

“We are saved by grace, of course, and by it alone, not because we deserve it. That is the basis of God’s acceptance of us. But grace does not mean that sufficient strength and insight will be automatically “infused” into our being in the moment of need. Abundant evidence of this claim is available precisely in the experience of any Chrisitian.” – Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines

How can we expect to respond appropriately to a tantruming two-year-old when we are disconnected from the creator of love, wisdom and peace? Obsessively reading parenting books, Christian or not, is not going to replace the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Ever. Our sanctification is the best parenting tool we have.

Beyond parenting, the Holy Spirit prompts us to serve in ways that are hugely impactful. Taking flowers to your neighbor in a time of need. Sponsoring (and actually corresponding with) children through Compassion International and other similar organizations. Crying with the woman who just lost her baby. Building meaningful relationships. Anytime we let peace, love, joy, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control shine through in our lives we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit. (Borrowed that thought from Jen Hatmaker’s most recent sermon) Don’t minimize your impact. Don’t let the enemy make you feel small. You are so important. Furthermore,  you have no idea what will come your way that will require supernatural strength and provide an opportunity to witness. I’m not talking about evangelizing, I’m talking about actually responding to a situation the way Christ would.

Engaging in sanctification is a gift anyway, right? It’s a gift I wish I would give myself more often. When I engage with Christ I get to dismiss (at times) house cleaning, meal planning, empty conversations, meaningless crafting, shopping, decorating… I don’t know it could be anything that doesn’t really matter. Engaging takes time, but it’s really the best way I get to spend my time. When I start my day with God, I center myself around His Kingdom, not mine. I literally plan my day differently. It’s the days when the cleaning or the shopping or the texting or the whatever overtakes me and I don’t just. stop. I don’t just trust that this time with Him will be well spent and nothing is more important.

It’s a slow process at times. I don’t get the “oohs and ahhs” from my peers or any “likes” on Facebook. There’s no stickers for this one. I have to pray that God will give me a desire to spend time in His word, aaand that He’ll help me to wake-up early (Caleb started me on that prayer- it worked!). Mostly, I pray that I won’t be overwhelmed with my desire to fulfill the “duties” of this world.

You know, there have been times when this dedication has really paid off… and then the times when my neglect is quite evident. His grace is so good, it makes us so loved and so accepted no matter what. But it does not magically make us like Christ. Your whole family can probably attest to that. Sorry, that was harsh, but I’m right a little, yes?

So, what do you do with this? I’m not sure what you need to do but my friend, Kimberly, and I have decided that the best thing we can do is create a discipleship group. We’re going to go through a book about practicing the disciplines and encourage one another. Would you like to join us? Grab another friend or two but try to keep it to 2-3 people because according to Kimberly, that’s when real growth can occur. (She’s kind of a small groups guru- check-out her site here)

Also, here are some books to help you along your journey:

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Another great resource is IF:Equip. They’re starting a new series on the Beattitudes, click on the image below for more info:ccfa405d-d04e-49fc-aa18-1c9e33393917

Please share whatever resources/insight/experience you may have! I’d love to hear it!