confession: i’m an ichthus out of water

[this post has not been edited for anything. it’s 12:30am and my brain is in gear. thus, a collection of thoughts.]

“i’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints; the sinners are much more fun.” —billy joel in “only the good die young”

this week i started a new job. in a new town. in a new world.

my old world was full-time vocational ministry. a paid preacher. a professional Christian.

in my old world i talked about the necessity; nay, the command to be missional followers of Jesus…to live a life of intentionally engaging and being in relationship with those who do not yet follow Christ. of being in their world. of loving and earning the right to hear and be heard.

apparently, if i was a professional Christian…i wasn’t a very good one.

because for the life of me, i cannot recall a single, significant friendship i have had in the last 5 years with someone outside of the faith.

shame on me.

and now i find myself in a new world. a world where i sell iPhones and take collegiate courses and am surrounded by people who do not know my Lord.

and i’m not really sure what to do.

oh, i know the right answers (paid professionals always know the right answers).

talk with them. be engaged. hear their story. share a drink. serve them. meet their needs. be alert. love them. extend the grace that cannot be resisted.

but…how? what does this look like at work? in the classroom? in my neighborhood? i don’t know, because i’ve never done it. i’ve only talked about it.

i’m excited and terrified in this new world. you know those “Jesus fish” you see on the back of vehicles? (it’s call an “ichthus”). i feel like an ichthus out of water. i am firmly outside the confines of my safe and sanitized Christian world.

and it seems to be a good thing.

it seems to be where Jesus spent most of his time.

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whose voice do you hear?

i’ve spent a little time writing about the importance of not trusting your heart, but instead trusting what you know. (read about it here, here, and here.)

today, i have had a series of short thoughts on the topic i figured i’d share. here goes:

we all sin.
the Enemy of our souls loves to remind us of all those mistakes.
he is called the Accuser. and that’s what he does.
“you’re a loser.”
“you’re never going to be any better.”
“you’ll never amount to anything.”
“you’ll never move beyond this. and if you do, there will be something else.”
on any given day, you’ll feel the brunt of a hundred accusations slap you in the face.
the woman caught in adultery (john 8) heard those accusations.
“you’re a harlot.”
“you’ll always wear the scarlet letter.”
“you don’t deserve blessings, peace, or life.”
but there stood Jesus, as quiet as a church mouse.
an Advocate.
standing between the accused and her accusers.
with one sentence, the crowd drops their rocks and walks away.
“where are your accusers?” he asks her.
the same question is for us today.
whose voice do we hear?
the voice of the Accuser?
or the voice of the Advocate?
do we listen to what we feel (the life-sucking accusations)?
or do we listen to what we know (the holy abandon)?
as max lucado says, “you are who He says you are.”
there is no longer any condemnation for those who listen and follow the Advocate.
don’t believe what the Accuser wants you to feel.
believe only what the Advocate wants you to know. 

trust what you know

i was told by Jesus, all is well
so all must be well.
—mumford & sons in “below my feet” 

a few days ago, i encouraged you to not follow your heart.

so, what should we follow? what do we trust?

i think the answer might be simple: trust what you know.

several times over these last two months, i have felt beyond forgiveness. i have felt as though God’s grace, although good, was not good enough to cover my sins. perhaps everyone else’s, but not my own. i have felt hopeless. i have felt alone. i have felt forgotten.

and i have had to, time and again, remind myself that my feelings are deceptive. i can’t trust them, because i can’t trust their source: my heart. 

instead, i must trust what i know. as the quote above states, if Jesus says all is well…even though i may not feel that way, i have to trust what i know. i know Jesus. and i know Jesus’ words are true.

trusting what we know moves us beyond the realm of the selfishness of our feelings.

this goes for all of us.

if you don’t feel like God hears your prayers, trust what you know.
if you don’t feel like God has forgiven your sins, trust what you know.
if you don’t feel like you’re good enough, trust what you know.
if you don’t feel like anyone cares, trust what you know.
if you don’t feel like God is present, trust what you know.
if you don’t feel like you’re lovable, trust what you know.
if you don’t feel like God is enough, trust what you know.
if you don’t feel like God is helping you, trust what you know.
if you don’t feel like anything is under control, trust what you know.

how do you feel today? can you trust it? 

when you begin to feel a certain way, please make sure it aligns with what you know of God, his character, and his word. what you know of God trumps how you feel about anything. every time.

“when my soul is in the dumps, i rehearse everything i know of you…”
psalm 42:6 (msg) 

the righteous will fall // encouragement for your friday

this verse and the three following thoughts have been an encouragement to me in the last few days. perhaps you need the same kind of encouragement as me…or know someone who does.

“for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.”
proverbs 27:16 niv

// the righteous fall //
it’s not just the wicked who stumble. even those who are doing their best to pursue God stumble.

// the righteous fall a lot //
the proverbs says the righteous fall seven times. this is an interesting idea: seven was a number representing perfection. perfection, in my mind, would mean the righteous never fall. but here, the writer clearly implied that the righteous do fall…perfectly. i feel like i’ve perfected the art of falling.

// the righteous fall a lot…but keep getting up //
this is what sets the righteous apart. they don’t stay down. they don’t stay stuck in their sin. they get up and dust themselves off and repent and keep struggling toward Jesus, even though they know they will fall again. and again. they know His grace is real, even if it’s hard to accept or understand.

be encouraged.
get up.
you have His righteousness.