Category Archives: holiness

messy and mad . . .


Messy and mad.

Life is. I am.

Messy life. Mad me. There’s no prettying up this one, not enough shine and polish to make it less obvious to others. Anyway, what’s the point of a cover-up other than to possibly fool someone into thinking I have it altogether?

I don’t. On my best days, I’m always one step away from behaving badly. My flesh doesn’t consistently keep pace with my faith. Today has been one of those days for me.

The messiness that surrounds me creates a terrible ache inside of me for calmer days, although at the moment I’m having a difficult time remembering what they look like, feel like . . . live like. Accordingly, a less than gracious display of emotion bursting forth onto the pavement in front of me and into the lives of those who sit most closely to my influence.

My influence. I type those two words with a penitent heart and with a few questions to the Father about why he has allowed me so much of it, especially on days of amplified tension. This wasn’t supposed to be this hard. Or so I think. But my supposition doesn’t change the facts.

Life is hard, messy too. And every now and then, living within these constraints gets the best of me. Perhaps you understand. Perhaps you know something about the “hard and messy” of life.

We don’t get too far in our walks of faith and not experience the push for transformation. God will bring our “hard and messy” to the surface so that we might accurately assess the condition of our hearts. His assessment is always clear; we, however, are sometimes a bit slower in recognizing the inward ticking of a sometimes veiled reality. And while I’m not a fan of painful disclosure, I am a fan of fleshing out the hidden contents of my heart in the safe and loving presence of Father God.

Honestly, I just wish we’d already taken care of this years ago.

Messy and mad.

Life is. I am.

Gracious and loving.

God is. God does.

And therein I find my compass.

God’s address. . .

“Craving hearts will never know satisfaction regardless how often or how much God provides.”

So tweeted my friend, Alicia Chole. I sat with her thought for a bit, knowing that her words are never casually written. Instead, she writes and lives from a deep well. After considering her contemplation, I probed her heart further with a tweet of my own:

“And so my question, how to rid oneself of the crave?”

Her response was what I expected . . . another probing truth that has captured my thoughts this rainy Tuesday afternoon. She writes:

“For me personally, one of the first steps is identifying my specific ‘address’ for interior contentment.”

Go ahead; sit with it all for a few minutes. Think about craving hearts and specific addresses. Think about satisfaction and interior contentment. Think about what it is you are craving and what specific ‘address’ is attached to that craving. And then, if you’re willing, ask yourself a question or two.

Does Jesus live in this place? Is this the home of his choosing?

If not, then, perhaps, a move is in store for you. Get to where to Jesus lives and watch your satisfaction grow—an inner soul-contentment no longer fueled by worldly provision but instead fueled by heaven’s dispensation.

Where are you parking your heart this day? It seems as if mine has been drifting as of late. I suppose I have a bit of Jonah inside of me, thoughts of Tarshish instead of Nineveh; thoughts of steering my own ship instead of taking a seat in God’s. A search . . . a craving that never knows a full measure of satisfaction, no matter how much or how often God’s provision rains down over me.

Today is a good day for a reroute. A right time to come home to Jesus, to live where he lives, and to drink from the cup that refreshes us both. I don’t want to finish this day unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and underwhelmed by the faith that I profess to believe. Instead, I want to finish this day firmly convinced and richly contented by the provision of a Father whose love for me knows no limits. Accordingly, I move toward Jesus. I park my heart at the front door of his heart, and I wait for this craving in me to let go . . . to die so that I might hold something better, something purer, something eternal that no longer empties me but, rather, frees me.

I invite you to come along, to join me at God’s address. There’s room enough at his table for us all. There’s grace enough to feed us as well. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

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I have a few minutes this morning (just a few . . . we’re in the middle of percents and decimals over here; for the record, I didn’t understand them when I was in the 6th grade; at forty-six years old, I can’t say my grasp is much better, but I digress. Forgive me; it happens a lot these days. Homeschooling is a real buzzard at times). So with earplugs in place to drown out the background noises of the DVD instruction taking place in the adjacent kitchen, I sit down in front of my computer to ask you, even as I am asking myself, a question.

What allowances in your life are hampering your pursuit of holiness? What temporal triggers are you tolerating that are messing up God’s eternal mandate to you to “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)?

I know this is a weighty question attached to an even weightier requirement. But it belongs to us as God’s children, both the question and the requirement. We cannot forsake them in the name of relevancy or of being compatible with a world that is adamantly opposed to and kicking against the tenets of a surrendered life. The world will always kick against surrender. Why? Because surrendering requires submission to a higher authority thereby relinquishing control to that higher authority. When surrender suits our fancy—when our ears are tickled and our flesh is fed and dressed with temporal delights—we’re quick to bend the knee. When surrender suits God’s fancy—when our hearts are pricked and our flesh is drained of temporal delights in order to make room for his everlasting righteousness—we’re slower to yield.

We’re still so very attached to this world, are we not? Still holding on to the little we have left (our possessions and our flesh) falsely assuming that the more we manage them, the more we control them, the greater our contentment in the end.

What tragedy! What defeat! What exhaustion! We’re killing ourselves in exchange for a few moments of temporary pleasure instead of dying to ourselves in exchange for a lifetime of eternal treasure. When and where and how did our consecrated focus turn into wretched blindness? Was yours a quick plunge into dissipation or a slow fade into darkness? Again, my question to you and to myself . . .

What allowances in your life are hampering your pursuit of holiness?

Let me suggest a practical approach to answering this question; time is of the essence (not just in the 6th grade classroom, but in the classroom called life):

  • Make a list. Find a pencil, a piece of paper, and some quietness. Open up your mind and your heart before the Father and list every allowance in your life that is a hindrance to your pursuit of holiness. Television? The Internet? Music? Habits? Attitudes? Memories? Compulsions? Addictions? If you’re not sure whether or not these allowances are in keeping with God’s mandate for holiness, then ask yourself the following questions:

What am I feeding? My soul or my flesh? Would God linger here . . . in this place of my allowance? How does my soul feel after I’ve pushed away from the table? Full, empty, or soured? Once you’ve made your list, then . . .

  • Make a commitment. Prayerfully consider this list before God and allow him his voice in the matter of your holiness. Take time to read a few scriptures pertaining to holiness and give attention to the Holy Spirit’s prompting within. Here are a few to get you started: 1 Peter 1:13-25, 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1, Romans 6:15-23, Hebrews 12.

What “letting go”, what surrender is he asking of you in order to make more room for the holiness he longs to pour into you? God will not leave you hanging here; if you are earnestly and sincerely approaching the Father regarding the matter of personal holiness, he will clearly and directly approach you regarding his. Listen in, and, then, with his mandate in mind . . .

  • Make a move. Don’t sit on conviction. Move on it. Start crossing off your allowances, one at a time, even if it hurts. If you tarry with your conviction (thinking perhaps that by thinking on it another day will clear the matter up), you’ll lose it. You’ll no longer be convinced that this particular allowance is hindering your holiness. Instead, you’ll coddle it, keep it close to your soul until it moves you so far away from the voice of Jesus, you’ll no longer be able to discern his amongst those competing for your attention.

Make a move. Do it while you have the borrowed strength from the Holy Spirit to do so. When you entertain Jesus in your heart, you have the enabling power of all heaven to move you forward in your consecrated pursuit of holiness.

There you have it; my few minutes. Actually, a few more than a few. There have been some interruptions along the way. No matter. At noon, my heart is still fixed upon what my heart was fixed upon at the beginning of my day . . .

My pursuit of holiness. To make a list, make a commitment, and then, by God’s empowering grace, to make a move in the right and good direction.

To God I go. To God I will cling. To God be the glory; great things he is doing in the lives of his children! Keep to it, friends. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

 PS: I couldn’t have just one winner of the If Birds Could Fly CD, so Lori and Laura, you’re both going to get a copy! Beth just met with Brittany at Pizza Hut; once I have them, I’ll mail them to you. Enjoy.

authenticity . . .

Authenticity. Being authentic. Not fake. Genuine. Real. Threadbare and exposed.

Are you authentic? If you answered “yes” then allow me a further probe. Who decides what’s authentic? How do you determine the boundaries for the definition, or does the definition (in and of itself) require that no boundaries be put around it? Does being authentic mean you just throw your “all” out there and hope for the best—take me or leave me, this is who I am?

It’s getting a lot of buzz these days . . . authenticity, especially in our “Christianese”—the vernacular of us religious folk. There’s something to be said for our exposure before one another; truth-telling can be a crucible for holiness. We can’t move forward in our faith by faking it. But I’m wondering, if, perhaps, our version of authenticity stops short of being a productive, spiritual discipline.

What’s the point of keeping it real, if keeping it real becomes an end in itself rather than a means to achieving an end—holiness?

Case in point. I’m about to expose myself. Hold on. You might not be ready for this one.

Yesterday, I canceled my appointment with my general practioner . . . for the 2nd time. It was scheduled for 3:45 PM. I called (actually I had my husband call) and cancel around 2:00 PM. Why?

  • I didn’t want to weigh in.
  • I didn’t want a repeat lecture about my cholesterol being too high.
  • I didn’t want to weigh in.

My decision was based on an earlier encounter with the bathroom scale—my husband and my twenty-three-year-old son’s throw-down, weigh in. They bantered back and forth about who weighed less, who ate more, and who would be thinner the next time around. When I heard their numbers, I was crushed and loudly pronounced my angst.

“I’m the heaviest person in this family. I weigh more than the rest of you. Call the doctor, Billy, and reschedule. I’m not going in today.”

He complied; I cried and continued to wrap myself up in the enemy’s shame regarding my appearance. Nothing’s fit right since cancer. Nothing looks right, either. It all feels wrong on me.

There, that wasn’t so hard. There’s some real and authentic truth for you. I’m not proud of it; I should have put “my big girl panties on a dealt with it.” Problem is, the big girl panties are too big, and I’m not keen on exposing them to others. Just keeping it real, friends. But here’s the problem: it’s not enough to tell you about it, throw it all out in front of the world while shouting, “Take me or leave me, this is who I am.”

This isn’t authenticity, not according to God; this isn’t transformation. This is defeat; this is refusing to do the hard work that follows personal disclosure. That hard work for me?

Well, it’s not just about my moving more and eating less. Greater still, it’s about exposing my pain before Jesus, about moving more into his Word, and about eating less of the enemy’s assessment regarding my body.

This is authenticity . . . not being afraid to fully disclose the pain and truth before the mirror of God’s Word and before God’s heart, knowing that with reflection will come greater understanding, greater strength, and greater exposure to the only truth that has the power to transform me rather than to judge me. If I’m willing to do this—to go all in with Jesus and with his assessment regarding my appearance—then I can boast about personal authenticity. Otherwise, I’m just living a lie, kidding myself and trying to kid the world into believing that my big girl panties and me are here to stay; take us or leave us, this is who we are.

Authenticity. It only comes to us as we are willing to come to the cross and expose our nakedness, our wounds, and our truth to the nakedness, wounds, and truth of Jesus Christ. He is the standard-bearer for authenticity; he defines it, refines it, and mines for it in each one of us. He is the means to our holiness. He is the end of it as well. When we go to him and pour out our reflection before him, he begins to pour out his reflection into us.

This is how we can make peace with our flesh and live in peace with God’s people. His truth over-powering and replacing the enemy’s lies. His estimation overtaking the mirror’s assessment and bringing forth new life from woundedness. More of Jesus reflecting authentically through less of us. Accordingly,

Take us, don’t leave us, Jesus, this is who we are, and this is why we so desperately need your hand of grace in our lives. Amen.

Sassy Granny has also written a post about authenticity. You can find it here.

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