I Don’t Think You REALLY Want to Change

I hate the process of change…all of it. Even when I try to stay motivated and positive I often just have my panic attacks, just somewhat more quietly. I’m reading this book..well more, reading a paragraph and then when I feel convicted, I throw it across the room.  It’s about change…and accepting it, and even more so, embracing it, or even more more so, capitalizing on it.

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macro closeup of a thesaurus entry on the word "change"

But really, it’s an everyone problem. We don’t really want to change. We want the perks, the benefits, the effects of change, but we don’t ACTUALLY WANT to change. Change is painful, change is uncomfortable. We like our traditions and our habits. We are content with our ways.

The moment someone challenges us, our ideas or the way we’ve always done things, we go on attack. We must protect ourselves from the uncomfortable, the painful. We tear others down, we attack their character and their credentials. We stand solid on our very old ground, not only embracing our traditions, but defending them.

As we face changes and new ideas, and even new possibilities, we marinate in the ideas of how it was, or how it should be– if only.

The Pharisees.  They argued with Jesus, and questioned his authority. They trashed his character, and twisted truth and refused to listen because they were …

Afraid.

Comfortable.

Traditional. 

Jesus. He brought a new message of freedom. He brought people out of the trash and gave them, not character, but righteousness. He revealed truth and listened to the hurting.  He brought the authority of heaven to earth. He challenged the ways, the culture, the theology of the time. He made people

God-Fearing.

Uncomfortable.

Transformed. 

Where are you? Are you in a place where you like comfortable and traditional? Is it too hard to exercise? Too difficult to have that needed disagreement with your spouse? Afraid of how your kids will respond when you set those boundaries?  So it’s just easier.  It works, somehow. But not everything that works is right… and even if it’s not “wrong” …. it’s not always God’s best.

Our goal in life should be God’s best…and God’s best for us in the transformed life. A life that is daily being renewed. He wants to renew our thoughts, and even our desires. Did you know that God can transform your desires? Your desires for smoking, or alcohol, or pornography? Did you know God can renew your marriage, and your relationship with your kids? God is waiting to transform every area of your life…but He won’t do it unless you accept the risk The risk of being uncomfortable. The risk of living in respect for God and not people. Do you really want that change?

I hope so. I hope you are willing to listen to the truth found in Scripture. I pray that you see that the results of the change, having confidence that the end result of the transformation will bring freedom and life…

and peace…

and joy…not just happiness, but joy–real joy…

and safety…..

and assurance…

and love…oh! the love!

Jesus is in the business of change…If you want Him, want the change He can bring to your life.

Do you fight against change like I do??  What’s the hardest change you’ve ever been through? Comment and share!

LG|LP

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Why Cliques Don’t Disappear After High School

cluelessI hated high school. Dude, did I hate it. So much,  that the moment I discovered I could drop out, get my GED and go straight to college, I ran as fast as I could to sign up. I was an emotional mess and high school was daunting for me. My school educated approximately 3,600 students, 980 of which were in my future graduating class. I hated  feeling lost, I wasn’t challenged in my studies, and spent most of my time utterly confused.

What was hardest on me was the cliques. I was tall, awkward and to say I lacked confidence is a severe understatement. I constantly compared myself to other girls, tried my hardest to find my place, but I only found myself even more misplaced. The girls were ruthless, and loved only those who loved them. Those girls who were my friends in middle school found other places and spaces and boyfriends and activities. I simply roamed the halls, skipped classes, and felt alone.

Ironically, one of my favorite no-brainer movies is Mean Girls. It’s a story of a girl who moves to public education aftspartaner being homeschooled by her missionary parents in Africa. She discovers the hatred & the treachery of the realities of the clique. Oh and then there is Clueless…and of course our favorite SNL Skit with Will Ferrell….

And then there is the Breakfast Club. The absolute quintessential high school movie about cliques, and how at the end of the day…the end of a day at Saturday detention, we are all pretty much the same. This whole idea of exclusion is a universal struggle among all people. I felt like the poster child.

High school was tough and I thought by escaping the hallways, I would escape what I hated the most about them.  One of my Besties and I have had several conversations in the last few weeks about how our problems follow us no matter which state we attempt to escape to….or which school we try and ditch, or job we quit. I remember my first job in corporate America. I discovered rather quickly that high schoomean girlsl antics don’t go away after high school, they simply follow us. The haunting of the clique just seems to never go away…not even in the church.

It’s interesting to me how the entire ministry of Jesus was centered around abolishing the cliques, destroying the idea of exclusivity and challenging people to open their hearts to the least, the confused, the emotional mess. In the Kingdom of God, everyone has a place and it is one of honor. Yet within the Christian community, I witness these groups of people that sometimes seem impenetrable. The same women attend the same Bible studies, the same recovery people attend their groups. There are those who belong to this small group and those who belong to that volunteer group. And everyone has the same group of people they say hi to every week. We tend to only talk to those select neighbors, and those select friends. Seems we have missed the point completely!

We just don’t have time for everyone.

It’s just so uncomfortable.

We want church to be ours.

We want our evenings to be relaxing.

Three or four friends are enough.

We are afraid.

We are too worried about ourselves.

The reasons, the excuses, the rationale, all of it convince us that the safety of our clique is justified, because we are Christians doing life with other Christians.  It’s convoluted, and it’s not Biblical.

We must love everyone, and we must do it intentionally. We must go out of our way. Jesus went out of His way to love me, to give me a place to belong. After years of feeling alone, and even times now when it seems I have no place, I find a place in Him.  There are so many–lots of people–who need for once to NOT feel as if they are outside of the clique. It has to start with us. When Jesus called us to love others, it wasn’t intended to be from a distance. That command was so that we can love others in a way that make us uncomfortable, that forces us to depend on Him, that requires much of us.

Go to a different Bible Study.

Go outside after dinner and take a walk, and talk to your neighbors.

Invite your co-worker to sit with you at lunch.

Say hello to the lady at the grocery store.

We can never have enough friends.

Have that family over for dinner.

Everyone wants to be included.

Why do we love Facebook? Because anyone and everyone is there. Why do we want our kids to play for the YMCA? Everyone gets to play and everyone gets a trophy, everyone is included.

The cliques won’t disappear, but you can choose to not be a part of them anymore. You can choose to include and accept everyone. You can offer the love of Christ to every. single. person. within your reach. You have absolutely no idea who just might need it…it might be me, it might, in fact, be you.

LG|LP

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Why the New Coke Machines Will Be the Death of Us

I walk into a restaurant and see this:

coke machine

and I cringe. I hate this machine. As a coke (a cola) addict, the source and purity of my frosty beverage is of utmost importance. I absolutely HATE the taste of the drinks that come out of this machine. My kids claim there isn’t a difference. They try and convince me that the choices make it cool, they try and persuade me to “just try” the cherry vanilla flavor. It’s all a lie.

I’m assuming those who drank Cokes out of this machine understand my lament:

vintage coke machine

We can ALL agree that a Coke out of a bottle is golden, even royal. We can taste the difference, I can taste the difference.And I’m sending this out as a PSA to save yourselves from the destruction of the American Institution of convenience and the right to choices and do not conform or utter a word about how the new Coke machines “aren’t that bad.”  BLASPHEMY.

This is typical of our society and even our lives. We allow slow, seemingly insignificant changes to seep into our worlds. We shrug, we even taste the difference, but we convince ourselves that it isn’t horrible so it must be good. Sins, lies, behaviors, small interruptions that frustrate us but not enough to actually do anything about it.

Marriages, slowly fading, with lack of connection, sitting on opposite ends of the couch on Facebook.

Parents, writing off that their kid is just a teenager and all teenagers spend all their time in their bedrooms, refusing to step into their world because, well, their favorite episode is on.

Friendships, clouded by tinges of jealousy that obviously are justified because you are such a good person and do such good things, and it’s all just not fair.

Work, church, neighbors–we make allowances for tiny white lies, changes in ourselves and others, and then before you know it, Coke isn’t using real cane sugar anymore and no one notices. We are told, we are warned, we see the difference in packaging, but we choose to ignore.

I have learned that we do have a lot of choices, according to the new coke machine, 100+, yes PLUS. But having more options doesn’t mean that we are any more equipped to make the right choice, nor does it ensure that we will focus on the choices that matter.

The only assurance we have is rooted in a relationship with Christ. One that clearly spells out that we have a choice this day of life or death, blessing or curse. It doesn’t matter what we drink with our burger and fries, or which machine it comes out of. What matters are things of eternal value, and we are daily to examine our choices, to fill the cracks and choose life, found only in Him. Like choosing what to eat 3 times a day, it’s a moment by moment decision, and one that will last eternally longer than this trendy new Coke machine.

Where in your life have you allowed tiny things to seep in, things that seem like they aren’t a big deal, but eventually will numb you to the truth that you are swimming in sin ??? Comment and Share.

LG|LP

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How To Build Relationship with Kids to Change the Faith of Families.

I live in a large, interconnected neighborhood. In order to save money on school bus service, schools tend to be plopped down right in the middle or our community. At the end of the day bell, the streets are flooded with kids. First elementary school, then half an hour later the middle-schoolers.

Tons of kids, even more families, just waiting for us–the church.

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That’s all I saw that day, a bunch of teenagers who needed Jesus. I wondered how many of them went to church. I wondered how many of these kids who went to church ever invited other kids. I thought of how Christians are pulling their kids out of schools, pulling Jesus out of schools, and I was saddened at the thought. (But that’s a post for another time.)

When  I lived in Florida, one day I drove into our gated community at the same time the bus was dropping kids off. I counted them. Fifteen. There were 15 kids, and I knew their stories. I could have invited them to church, but they wouldn’t have come. Instead, I brought church to them. The first week I ordered pizza, twelve kids showed up to eat the free food and hear about Jesus. The next week we grew, and the next and the next. There were nights I had 40 kids piled on top of each other in my living room, just dying to hear, dying for community, dying for connection.

I find that kids, including teens are willing to take responsibility for their own faith apart from their parents. We need to find ways to connect with kids even if parents aren’t willing to come to church. In fact, we can change the entire trajectory of faith in Jesus in families through kids and their faith. It isn’t going to happen with a single event, or with flyers on doorknobs. People need real connection, real relationship and that takes time.

Here are some ways to minister to families through kids:

1. SCHOOL INVOLVEMENT: whether you are in PTA, or just show up to a class party, getting to know kids and begin building friendship with them is a great start.

2. OUTSIDE TIME: When you see a group of kids outside, or you have a park near your house, get off your couch and go play some basketball.  One of the things I try and do as much as possible is walk to pick up my 4th grader. I talk to his classmates, give fist bumps and high fives. Sometimes I even end up with groups of kids around me as we walk and talk together. Not only am I getting to know them,  most of these kids are going home alone and I can offer a sense of security for their walk home.

3. GAMES: Go to local highschool or middle school games and get to know kids names and start conversations with parents.

4. BLOCK PARTY: throw a block party with hot dogs and juice boxes in your front yard. Have a few games out or a football. It’s a great way to get to know the kids in your hood.

And I wish I didn’t have to say this, but have some boundaries when hanging out with kids. Don’t friend them on Facebook, or ever be alone with any of them. As you begin to build friendships, make sure other kids and adults are around as you spend time with them.

The reality is, not every child or family will come to church with just an invite, but we can always bring Jesus to them, through our kindness and acts of love, and showing them how much we care.

What are some ways you have or you can start building relationships with kids in your neighborhood? Comment and  share your ideas. 

And LIKE my FACEBOOK PAGE somewhere over there —-> for daily updates, encouragement and crazy talk!

LG|LP

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Do You Want To Stop Struggling With Guilt?

I wrote my opinion about something on Facebook a few weeks ago and was accused of causing guilt in someone’s life. I was so impressed that I had that much power over a person and a person I never even met. (Lord, it’s hard to be humble.)

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people have a tremendous gift at guilt trips because they want to make you feel worse than they feel about themselves. But I promise that wasn’t my intention. For this FB post, I was simply stating my thoughts and even why I felt the way I did. I read my post over and over, just to make sure I wasn’t in the wrong. Then I let it go…let it go…(You KNOW you just sang that!)

I spent most of my life feeling guilty about things I didn’t even do and even more over the things I did that were wrong. My guilt was such a burden and so destructive that it just led to a deep self hatred and shame. Guilt is so ugly, and causes us to do ugly things. So I’m here to set the record straight and hopefully, bring you some freedom.

Before I move on, I want you to know that I wholeheartedly believe that God gave us all of our feelings, even our negative ones. He didn’t desire for us to actually experience pain or heartache, but he also didn’t desire for us to sin. Our negative feelings are an innate part of being human, and our human experience is what draws us nearer to God. With that said, I believe that guilt is a feeling that God can use and here is how I believe it works.

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There are two types of guilt:

  1. CONDEMNATION
  2. CONVICTION

CONDEMNATION is when we feel guilt the enemy uses it to pull us out of or away from our relationship with God.

CONVICTION is when we feel guilt and the Holy Spirit purposes it to draw us nearer to God.

The situation doesn’t determine whether it’s condemnation or conviction. The foundation of what we believe will lead us to accepting one or the other.

Let’s say you have tried to stop smoking. You know that it’s not good for you, you understand that you are ruining your body and can actually cut your life shorter by your choices, affecting not only your life but the lives of many. (see what I did there, you should stop smoking).

Let’s say you do a really great job and for 3 weeks you don’t touch a Marlboro. Never light it up. Then one day, work is particularly painful and you are walking outside to your car and someone walks past you with a cigarette. One whif, you’re a gonner. You don’t even try to NOT smoke. You stop and buy a pack of cigarettes, light one up on the way home. As you throw your butt out into the street, littering, breaking the law (see what I did there? Don’t litter!) you feel an overwhelming sense of shame for what you just did. The guilt floods in. You can’t control it. You’re so stupid you can’t do anything right. Why do you even bother trying. God is just so disappointed because you are a loser.

So is it possible that God intended to use that guilt to draw you closer to Him? Is it possible that the Holy Spirit is trying to whisper this instead, “Hey dude. You messed up. It’s okay, I know it’s hard. Let’s start over. Throw the pack away. Brush your teeth. And know you don’t have to do this alone. Depend on me, lean on me, when you are weak, I am strong. You stepped away for a minute, but come back to me. We will do this!” Ta da: CONVICTION

Instead, we take those negative whispers, and agree with them, smoke the rest of the pack, and feel like an even bigger failure. We feel far from God, like He could never really love someone like us, and feel the weight of our shame every single day. Dum dum dum: CONDEMNATION

When Paul wrote a letter to the Romans, he knew they struggled with sin and the fine line between flesh and Spirit. Romans 8:1

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Wait, what? Ya. That is what this means. We don’t have to let our guilt become condemnation. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you don’t live under condemnation. All of Romans 8 (and even 7) talks about this struggle between flesh and spirit, sin and freedom. I love this, too:

If your sinful nature [condemnation] controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit [conviction] controls your mind there is life and peace. [interjections MINE]

So here it is. All laid out for you, free to believe, free to change your thinking, to change your life. To bring you actual freedom.

Choose the Holy Spirit. Choose conviction. Be free from the guilt that presses down on your chest at night and makes you second guess your every decision. Free from the guilt that makes you afraid of saying the wrong thing, taking the wrong turn, doing the wrong thing. Free from the guilt whispered by people you love, and those that hate you. You don’t have to. You just don’t have to.

You should not be like cowering,fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.”

LG|LP

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