I have always been drawn to Peter–one of Jesus’s original twelve disciples. I think it’s because of his absolute imperfection and humanity. Honestly, I think it’s also because I see so much of myself in Peter. One of my favorite stories of Peter is this one: Jesus sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished, he said to Peter, “Now row out to deep water to cast your nets and you will have a great catch.” “Master,” Peter replied, “we’ve just come back from fishing all night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you insist, we’ll go out again and let down our nets because of your word.” When they pulled up their nets, they were shocked to see a huge catch of fish, and their nets were ready to burst! They waved to their business partners in the other boat for help. They ended up completely filling both boats with fish until they began to sink! Luke 5:4-7 (TPT) I love this story of Peter because I see so much of myself in it. Peter had spent the whole night fishing and catching nothing. When he came back to shore, Jesus told him to go back out to deep water and cast their nets out. Peter’s response is classic! He tells Jesus they’ve already been out there and caught nothing. I can see myself saying the same thing! It’s logic. Peter sees no reason to go back out to the deep water because logic tells him there won’t be any fish this time either. But, God.
(Im)Perfect: The Ungrateful Heart
It was tough. Did you know Moses spends the first nine chapters of Deuteronomy preaching at the Israelites over and over and over again to not turn their backs on God when they finally enter the Promised Land after wandering around in the wilderness for 4 years? Nine chapters. That tells me one of two things–either they were really stubborn or Moses didn’t have anything else to say. I’m pretty confident it isn’t that Moses was running out of things to say. No, it was definitely because the Israelites were stubborn, and, as Dr. Phil would say, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. The Israelites had some notorious past behavior.
(Im)Perfect: The Desperate Heart
I’ve always been baffled by Tamar’s story. I’m not sure how old I was when the full weight of her story resonated with me, but I’m pretty confident this one wasn’t illustrated on the flannel graph in my Sunday School class. After all, I don’t remember a prostitute character in the flannel graph box. If you don’t know Tamar’s story, the full narrative can be found in Genesis 38.
(Im)Perfect: The Ambitious Heart
In its purest form, ambition isn’t bad. The world we live in today, though, has placed an emphasis on ambition that, if unchecked, has the potential to be incredibly dangerous. It can infiltrate every aspect of our lives: We want the most high-paying jobs. We seek recognition from our bosses, co-workers, friends, and churches We want the validation of seeing our names in lights. We push our kids to be on the best travel ball teams. We want our kids to be at the top of the class, the MVP of the team, to have the lead role We want the biggest house. We want the most expensive cars. We want more clothes in our closets than we could ever wear. We want more channels on tv than we could ever watch. We want our refrigerators to be so overflowing that we throw more food out than some people eat. Do you see a theme here? Ambition has caused this “bigger and better” mindset to be the norm in our world today.
(Im)Perfect: The Deceived Heart
It’s so much easier to cast judgment instead of offering love, isn’t it? Probably the most quoted scripture relating to judging others is Matthew 7:1-3 (TPT): “Refuse to be a critic full of bias toward others, and you will not be judged. For you’ll be judged by the same standard that you’ve used to judge others. The measurement you use on them will be used on you. Why would you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and fail to notice the glaring flaws of your own? I’m not sure how old I was when I first heard this scripture be completely taken out of context and used as the reason why it was okay to judge other people, but the gist of the argument was that Jesus never said not to judge here; he just said you will be judged by how you judge others. Because of that faulty logic, these folks used this scripture as the basis for why they had the right to judge others. Hello, “adventures in missing the point!” It’s nice to meet you!
Love Better: Loving my Enemies
Unfortunately, God didn’t really give us the option to opt out of loving our enemies. Throughout scripture, we are met with reminder after reminder that we are to love our enemies. Within these scriptures, we even get a pretty clear picture of how we are supposed to love them.
Love Better: Loving my Neighbors
I was in Wal-Mart one Saturday. Now, let me be completely clear about something–I hate Wal-Mart. There are so many reasons, and I’m not even going to get into them, but I absolutely have to be on a very specific mission if I’m going to subject myself to the torture that is Wal-Mart. I had... Continue Reading →
Love Better: Learning to Love Yourself
Unless you are an English or Marketing major, you probably haven’t put much thought into the ways advertising affects the human psyche. Because I don’t want to go into a massive diatribe on this, I’m going to need you to trust me when I tell you the images we see, the messages our brains and bodies receive from the media, and the way our brains have been trained to think about ourselves has a ginormous impact on how we view ourselves. It isn’t just how we view ourselves physically, either. There are messages we ingested from our parents, our teachers, our pastors, our Sunday School teachers, our coaches, our youth pastors, etc that affect how we think about all aspects of our person–mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Too often, those messages we received, and might still be receiving, are negative. They influence our thought life, our emotions, how we see and treat our bodies, and how we view our mental abilities. If we aren’t careful, those negative thoughts and negative behaviors can seep into our actions, our relationships with friends and family, our relationships with God, and even how we parent our children. We have to do better. We have to love ourselves better.
Love Better: God
I was young, 7 or 8, and it was spring in the Midwest, which meant thunderstorms. They started out as just your normal, garden variety thunderstorms, but soon they produced into the torrential downpour, thunder rolling, bright lightning strikes lighting up the whole room, “should we go to the basement” grade thunderstorms. My bedroom was on the west side of the house, and that meant I got the worst of the storms–all the wind and rain would attack my windows, making me feel like I just might be the next Dorothy, and I didn’t have a Toto. I was convinced Jesus was coming back. And, I can tell you that my feelings weren’t feelings of joy that I was going to get to spend eternity with my savior. No, my feelings were of abject fear of hell because of the theology that had brainwashed me, even at such a young age. Instead of the sheer joy I should have been feeling at the prospect of spending eternity in heaven, these were my thoughts: Have I asked God to forgive all my sins? What if I forgot a sin? Am I past the age of accountability? I’m obviously past the age of accountability because I’m questioning if I’m past the age of accountability. I didn’t get baptized yet. I’m going to hell.
Focus: Finding your God-Given Passion
If I had to make an educated guess, I would assume there are some of you reading this and thinking you don’t have a passion. I’ve heard that from so many people. The thing is, God created each of us as unique individuals with unique interests and passions. Sometimes, it just takes a little understanding to see what that passion is or to acknowledge it and put voice to it. Why? Because Satan is a jerk. He’s the father of lies. His entire purpose on this earth is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Consequently, his goal is to convince you that God hasn’t given you a passion, that he can’t/won’t use you, and that you are unqualified and unworthy. Does that hit home with anyone?