Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why the world is watching Paris, not Beruit

Why the World is Watching Paris, not Beruit

Paris, all over the media. Tragedy, hopelessness, evil - words used to describe the attack on Paris Friday night. Saturday, the day after, Facebook lights up with profile pictures being covered by the Parisian flag. “Let’s show the Parisian people we support them.” 129.

Beruit, no where on the media. Common, normal, forgettable - words associated with the attack on Beruit Lebanon Thursday. Friday, the day after, Facebook lights up with nothing. No Lebanese flags, no “let’s show the Lebanese people we support them.” 43.

So we are clear - not all Muslims are terrorists

But it isn’t because the Parisian people are white, and it isn’t because more people died in Paris. It’s because we don’t see Lebanon. It has become void in our eyes of compassion, concern, and care. We have disassociated them from their right to life. It is because we have gathered as a nation to become compassionate about the things the world tells us to be compassionate about. Meanwhile halfway across the world there are 10 countries TEN countries in which occurrences like the one in Paris are a DAILY fear - Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

So, what? Is it wrong to cover your Facebook photo with the Parisian flag? No. Is it wrong to be unaware of the 10 other countries facing these realities daily? Yes. Is it wrong to not have the same compassion towards Middle Eastern people as we do towards white people? Yes.

Wael Hamzeh/European Pressphoto Agency

We as human beings are demanding equality across the world, but the greatest fight for equality is in our minds, because while people are dying all over the world we are habitually checking our phones, not reflecting on the images we see. If we see a situation being raised up on the tv, while we know something else in the world is going on just like it but isn’t being covered, what could your discernment suggest?

  1. It isn’t as important
  2. The media wants us to believe it isn’t as important
  3. We don’t believe it is as important

We don't believe it is as important, but it is not because of the media. The media is driven by our response to it. In the same way Facebook posts and Instagram posts are driven by our response to them. If a post gets a certain amount of likes it gets ‘promoted’ so-to-speak. So it is with our response to the News Media. It feeds our longing to be in the know. When we find interest in something it keeps getting repeated over and over again. It massages our appetite to know what’s going on in the world, by not really telling us what’s going on in the world. But it isn’t the media’s fault. It is our own fault.

We feed ourselves with images all day long of laughable things, horrible things, and anguishing things. They fail to fill our minds with compassion for the world. They numb us to reality, and sink us deep into the pit of their standard of justice.

Because it isn’t right people are dying. Period. 

Bilal Hussein/Associated Press

Marshall McLuhan said it best, “we have allowed the media to “massage” us into an unreflective and undiscriminating cultural consumption.” But let us not be so assuming, it is not the media’s fault. We have ALLOWED the media. 

We must turn off our media. We must love our neighbors (Mark 12:31). We must pray continually (1 Thess. 5:17). We must discern (Romans 12:2). We must turn to our international brothers and sisters and invite them into our homes. What has happened in Paris and Beruit should wake us up to the reality that we are all humans, and none of us are exempt from death. This, death, is the great equalizer. We all meet at the same fork in the road. And the world will mourn the loss of those in Paris, and those in Beruit, and let it be done. We should mourn the wrongness of death, and we should pray for the right-ness of life. We should participate in this rightness by not feeding ourselves images made by man. We should reach out to refugees, dine with them and listen to the stories of things going on in their countries. We should educate ourselves by having personal conversations with those who lost loved ones in Paris and Beruit. And we should hope (2 Cor. 4:16).

We should long for the return of our King, the redemption of this world, and wrong made right.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Why I said no

Why I said no, when all I wanted to say was yes.

A few months ago I sat in a car next to an incredible man of God I had just had breakfast with. We had endless conversation of how good the Lord had been to the two of us in the past 11 months.

“How can I pray for you?” he said. 

I didn’t expect it to hit me right then. I didn’t expect to have to explain why I said no, to myself. Tears filling my eyes, and a lump in my throat. Whoop, there it was. A raw, real emotion. The tug between satisfaction in singleness and some great guys asking me out. A real awareness of the unworthiness I felt to be in the place I was.

4 guys in 2 months. What was the Lord doing? Why now? Why at a time when I find myself so satisfied in the goodness and glory of God? Why at a time I just gave one of the hardest no’s I’ve ever had to give? Why at a time I had just been given one of the hardest no's I've ever been given? What was He teaching me? What was He showing me?

What was my answer going to be? 

“Stop being so picky, Lauren. Just go out with them, that’s the nice thing to do” I told myself.

I spend too much time trying to imagine myself married to good men. When I don’t trust the Lord with my no’s. It’s a fear of missing out. A fear the Lord doesn’t know what is best. A fear I should settle. And a fear I may end up settling. A fear the Lord will make me marry somebody who doesn’t know the meaning of dispensationalism, and/or hates climbing mountains. All of them, amazing men of God, but none of them enjoy studying and reading Timothy Keller, and enjoy waking up at 4 am to climb mountains. He could be tall, short, lean, or muscular. He could be older, younger, the life of the party, or the introvert, but what I want him to be is keenly aware of the lostness of the world, the mystery of Scripture, and the glory of Creation. Is that too much to ask? (laughs*)

No, but it leads to a lot of no’s. No to a guy who loved me well, no from a guy I wanted to love well, and no to two guys who wanted to learn to love me well.  And all I could ask myself is why? Why did I say no? Why couldn’t I say yes? Why couldn't it be a yes?!

"Your 25, your biological clock is running out, you should probably get married and start having kids," somebody told me.

If I wasn't already rudely aware of my biological clock, this made me wildly aware. 25, surrounded by friends dating, engaged, married, and having children. I didn't choose the journey I am on, it was chosen for me, by the grace of God. And yet every year I get older, the harder it is to trust God with these "no's." 

"Well, Lord, did you know I am 25? Did you know my biological clock is running out? Did you know I am going to be 26 in 6 months? Did you know it's HARD for me to be single surrounded by friends getting engaged and married all the time? DID YOU KNOW these guys are great guys, why can't I say yes?"

Trusting God in these no’s is harder then trusting God with the yes. Because it is tempting to say yes to the good guys, out of a fear 'that guy' won't ever come along. So yes, guys have asked me out, and I have had to say no. My pickiness about 'that guy' is a deep seated trust the Lord has what is best on His mind. Maybe it isn’t what is easiest, but I never said, “Lord give me an easy life.”

I said, “let me trust you in the unknowns, believing I am your daughter, a co-heir with Christ, provided I suffer with you, that I may also be glorified with you.” And in this season, I will love the unique opportunities I have to share the Gospel with nonbelievers, disciple young believers, and love God with all my heart.

And when I say “yes” when He has told me “no,” I will move forward in forgiveness painfully aware of my need for the grace of God - because this happens, often.

I said, "no" because I am believing God for the "yes" that will bring Him the most glory.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

defining wild.


A silence you've never heard before. The movement of the wind in the trees. The soft sweet reminder, you’ll be okay. An early morning call, slow motions preparing for the day, yet darkness is all you can still see. A moment of fear, gripped by confidence from Him. 

If we are people of Light why are we so afraid of the dark?

Sometimes, when you are short on time and silence, you have to leave the world for a while and enter into His presence. There you can find yourself terrified of the silence, and darkness, but not as terrified as you are of the sight of your soul, the lies you have believed of yourself and of the satisfaction of the world. Recognition.

Life is a mist. A vapor. An ice-cream cone, enjoyed for a moment then forgotten moments later. So it is with the comforts of life, and the affections of the world. Kisses that sting a midnight flame of pride. Careful it says. Careful to watch the flock, that the kisses from the Evil One might not drown you in their shameless pageantry. It feels warm at first, easing your sore muscles, but if you soak in it too long you will see your skin withering away. So it is when the flattering taunts of the Enemy give way to your flesh, and you start to believe the world is right. That attention and love from the world are the satisfying lusts of our hearts. Temptation brings forth sin, and sin when it is fully grown inevitably births death (James 1:14-15). And yet we daily believe the lies spoken over us. And then we see them. Confession.

If we are people of Light why do we trust and believe the dark?

A standing ovation is minimum honorarium for the Guy who told the mountains where to stand. The true honorarium comes from silence in the woods, alone, beholding the Creator in His creation. It is merely a reflection of the radiant beauty of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And still moments of agony exist when one stands before the Creator in His creation, and realize how unsatisfying attention and love from the world is. And the world is passing away along with its desires (1 John 2:17). When those seconds turn to minutes which turn to hours, movement in the soul must occur. Questions must be asked and answered, and silence must be fostered. You make room for Him to speak, to tell you the lies which dwell in your heart. But His kisses hurt as well. His grace-filled lips light on fire the lies you are believing and they no longer have a place in your heart. 

“I was wretched. And every soul is wretched that is fettered in the friendship of mortal things-it is torn to pieces when it loses them, and then realizes the misery which it had even before it lost them.” Saint Augustine, Confessions


Only silence makes the calm wind in the trees sound like a tornado. And only silence helps us to see the tower of babel-that is our love for self-will come crashing down if left to build its own idol. You see, we want to be our own Sovereign god, so we determine to take control of our circumstances. We disbelieve the good plans He has for us, and begin to manufacture our own. 

If we are people of Light, we do we keep walking in the dark?

So our version of wild becomes carefully articulated plans of action. And His version of wild is stepping into the unknown, not knowing where one will end up. We must move forward believing and trusting in grace. Forgiveness.

“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

4 am, a headlamp, a 20 lb. pack, a dog, and a dark damp cool morning. Wild. Seeking Wild, chasing Wild, loving Wild. All that He is is insanely Wild. A moment with Him, in His creation is the start of believing His wild plan is good.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Having a Rebekah Heart in a Bachelor World

Having the heart of Rebekah in the world of the Bachelor

I had a conversation with my friend the other day about how the church is not much different then the Bachelor. Many women (believing women), in search of their one true love (equally-yoked love), go to California (church) because they can’t seem to find any good guys in the bar (bar). We place ourselves at a church hoping one of the Godly men there will notice us. We pray every time we go in to church, “Lord, please let my husband be here. I am so tired of being single.”

But then the Bachelor world and the Jesus-loving world part ways, or they should. Trusting God in a season of unknowns, heartache, and disappointment is the greatest challenge in front of us, as women of God, at times. Friends get engaged, married, and start to have kids all while you are hoping to be asked out on a date by one of 50 guys at church when there are 300 girls around you. Comparison creeps in. In the church, on the Bachelor, in a bar, on Facebook, everywhere comparison comes to steal kill and destroy you.

“I must not be beautiful enough. I am not smart enough. I don’t know enough about the word of God. I have blonde hair and guys are more attracted to brunettes. I wish I had her body. Gosh look at my love handles, my nose, my cellulite.” We pick ourselves apart imagining we could try to be all of the best things about those girls at once. Instead of recognizing and seeing our different personalities, bodies, and ideas as gifts to the many-parts body of Christ.

My mom and I were talking the other day about this guy I have a crush on. I told her about his character, how he loves and obeys the Lord, how he has interacted with my friends, and how he interacts with me. She was (I think) glad to hear me talking about somebody in that way, until I said, “Yea but I don’t know why he would ever like me. It’s not even worth liking him because he is way out of my league. There are a million other girls more beautiful and Godly then I am who like him too.” COMPARISON. It isn’t even about that guy, it’s about believing and trusting the Lord is in control. It’s about offering our affections and attractions towards other guys to the Lord. It’s about being ourselves and not trying to be someone else just to be liked by a certain guy. It’s about turning our hearts in the opposite manner from what the world tells us. It’s about praying for yourself, and the other ‘million’ girls that like him that your heart’s wouldn’t trade the affection they have for Christ for affections towards a human being. It’s about letting go of expectations and trusting the Lord is leading that guy towards who he is supposed to be with. It’s about letting him pursue the woman he feels he is called to pursue, not jumping to the punch line and asking him out because you aren’t patient enough to wait on the Lord.

If we have been raised with Christ, we seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. We set our mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

When we set our minds on things that are above we naturally think about ourselves less. We begin to think more about the number of young women around us who don’t know Jesus who are waiting to hear the Gospel from our lips. We think about the many women in the church who need to be discipled by a woman with a content heart. We think about the life of Christ and the worthiness of loving him well.

I have been so enthralled by the story of Isaac and Rebekah lately. I have dreamed about their story, and woken up in the middle of the night with the Lord asking me, “read Genesis 24 again.” I am fascinated by the sort of naivety Rebekah carried when the servant approached her and asked for water from her jar. She gave him drink, then drew more water to water his camels. In the back of her mind she wasn’t thinking, “oh I bet this servant has come to make me the wife of an amazing man, so I better put on my best behavior and serve him better then I ever have served anyone in the past.” No, she was who she is. Her character was one of a servant. In fact she didn’t even know what she had ‘won’ until Abraham’s servant began to speak at dinner about Abraham and all he has, and the young man to whom all of it would be given. There was a reward to her faithfulness (not that there always will be), but the reward was more satisfying because she didn’t know it would be given to her as a response to her servanthood. 

In this same manner I pray my single sisters in Christ and I will go about our lives serving the Lord with our whole hearts, offering sacrifices of praise to God, and sacrificially giving and serving those around us. I pray we choose to walk in our identities knowing who the Lord has created us to be. I pray we will walk in a humble manner, rejoicing when the guy we had a major crush on decides to pursue another girl, having confidence he was hearing from the Lord in pursuing her and not you. I pray we won't be afraid of having crushes (it is okay to desire marriage, and to want to marry a Godly husband), but we will hold it loosely and pray for him with no selfish motives. I pray we fight the temptation to compare ourselves to those around us in the church and in the world, and that we as the church will build each other up and encourage one another in each person’s strengths.

Our Father is right now raising up men who will put their hand to the plow and not look back. As He calls these men, it is our role as women-sisters in Christ-to support, encourage, and love without pressure and excessive standards. We are to build our brothers up and believe our perfect Father will call them where He pleases. Thanks be to God, we can trust Him with our hearts, minds, souls and bodies.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Grace for the moment

My life has been a series of events where the Lord is asking me to have grace I don't have. Grace to believe Him, to trust Him, and to know He knows what is best. Grace to remember the things He has already promised me even when my surroundings or circumstances tell me something different. Grace to be unaffected by people's choices and words, to be steadfast, immovable, confident in my identity as a Daughter of my immovable Creator.

How do I know I can rely on this grace? Because every single word of the Bible, every story, every situation written down points to the undeserved grace of God. It is a narrative of God's grace. "By the transformational power of his grace, God unilaterally reaches his hands into the muck of this fallen world, through the presence of his Son, and radically transforms his children from what we are  (sinners) into what we are becoming by his power (Christ-like)" (Paul Tripp, Grace).

So grace wakes me up to my obvious need for a Savior, and helps me understand my ability to rely on my Lord. Grace allows me to stand at the door and knock, and grace opens the door. Grace makes me feel the weightiness of my sin, and makes me feel altogether beautiful and without flaw. Grace assures that I see the appalling truths about myself, and helps me see how I am being made into a new creation. Grace bids me come and die, and grace bids me eternal life. Grace knocks me to my knees at the end of my wits, and grace raises me up to stand on a rock. Grace lets us discover where the Lord is taking us, and grace knows where the Lord is taking us.

Grace is the irresistible oxymoron. It is a great paradox.

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well the disciples returned and saw him speaking with her. They "marveled that he was talking with a woman" (4:27). The woman leaves to go tell many Samaritans from her town about what happened to her. In the mean time the disciples were trying to get Jesus to eat and Jesus' response was, "my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes and see the fields are white for harvest (4:35).

Then, "many samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony" (4:39). The disciples couldn't see what Jesus was doing, but Jesus was only doing what the Father told him to do. Although it seemed like a waste of time to the disciples, God was doing something. And although we don't know what the Lord is up to in a given moment, we know His grace is there to lead and guide us where our trust is without borders.

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”  -Elisabeth Elliot

Similarly, when Naomi returns to Bethlehem after many unfortunate events and a time of sojourning in Moab, she couldn't see any hope. Everything seemed pointless to her.

But, in reality, the famine, moving to Moab, the deaths of the husbands, Ruth's loyalty, Naomi's return during the harvest, Boaz, and EVEN the kinsman who chose not to redeem Ruth all were a part of God's grace. They were all a part of God's plan to redeem millions and include a Moabite in the royal, Messianic bloodline. The story was much bigger then Naomi could see. God's grace was ever present.

Today, after a series of unfortunate events in my life, hope is sometimes hard to find. Grace has to be my immovable rock for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Situations and people around me will change and it may seem hopeless, but my heart and my eyes remain steadfast, fixed on the provider of grace.

I will count it all joy my brothers, when I meet trials of various kinds, for I know that the testing of my faith produces steadfastness. And I will let steadfastness have its full effect, that I amy be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The lady next door

Sometimes your heart longs to meet Muslim women, and sometimes you pray for hours on a drive home from the mountains for the opportunity to meet those Muslim women. Often the Lord wakes you up to how immediately he answers prayers. And sometimes this means you witness a car accident happen between two women.

Sometimes you exchange phone numbers with one of those women because you hear her speaking in Arabic on the phone, and you are a witness. Sometimes that Muslim woman calls and invites you over for dinner. And EVERY TIME you go. Not just for the food, or the 'culture lesson', or the amazing Moroccan tea, but to show her you care. To show her there is a Love that knows no boundaries: culturally, ethnically, or geographically. To show her she can have American friends, and there are women in this country who want to be friends with her. To show her she can have more then one friend, and that it would be a joy to be her friend.

Because sometimes people are lonely, and need someone to drive over to their house and share a meal with them.

And if that lady just happens to be from Morocco, the spread will look something like this^.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I'm Coming Home EG


I am sure many of you are wondering why I haven't posted anything. After all, my sweet Ella Grace has been with her Savior face to face for 3 years today, For the past two years since she passed away I have written about her:

the day after she passed away

her first birthday in Heaven

her second birthday in Heaven

But this year I can't find the words.

I spent the past 3 days (including today) at a conference with 6000 other people being taught by minds who have spent their lives glorifying God by studying and teaching His word. The name of the conference this year was 'Coming Home' and was a eschatological look at the word of God. Of course in three days there is only so much one could teach and be taught, but the teachings were extensive and full of Biblical truths that saturated my heart with a hope and a longing for what is to come.

ULTIMATELY that is what I feel today. 3 years have passed since I saw her precious face light up as I tickled her tummy. 3 years have passed since I held her sweet hand in mine. 3 years have passed since I laid her tiny body on top of mine to stop her from crying. 3 years have passed since I held her lifeless body. But I know she hasn't counted them. And I know she isn't looking down on me wishing she could be here with me.

3 long years in earthly time. 3 years of healing, being hurt again, healing again, being hurt again, and healing. 3 years of being reminded daily how tiring it is to live in a broken world - to watch loved ones come and go; some with full lives (97 year olds) and some with short lives (17 months old) - to feel cheated, abandoned, unloveable - to feel you could fall in love again, only for it to come to an end 1 day later.

The days go by so slow EG, but the years have gone by so fast. I am three years closer to eternity then when we first met. And my longing to be with you is still there, but ten times as much as I look forward to seeing you, I long to be in Glory. The type of glory none of us has seen here. The type of glory we can only dream about and you are experiencing,
“Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal...And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations." Revelation 21

Tears stream down my cheeks, not for the sake of crying but because this Truth - it is stunning. I have a hope against all other hopes that I shall reign with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That my soul will be so completely satisfied in His being glorified. And that no longer will there be tears, pain, suffering, mourning, death or loss, only Life and the steadfast love of the Lord.

The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life, a husband, children, an education, a family, a little girl named Ella Grace, traveling, adventure, and creation. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you, when my daughter passes away in my lap, when my best friend walks away from our relationship, when somebody falls in love with me and I walk away from them. When my family is gone and all that is left is your steadfast love, my lips will praise you.

Keep praisin Him baby girl. I miss you, but I am coming home soon and very soon and I look forward to meeting the Jesus you have been worshiping for a 1000 years face to face.

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