The Window Washer: Fear-Defying Faith

The past week was a taste of paradise. I was overjoyed to attend a writers retreat for the authors who are signed with the fabulous agents of Books & Such Literary Agency. Boy, did they spoil us! We met in Monterey, California to enjoy a time of learning, fellowship, planning and fun. My brain is overwhelmed with everything they taught us, the creativity and joy were contagious and the view couldn’t be beat. But best of all were the friendships forged. As you can see, the love between the authors of Books & Such are a rare gift.


With my hilarious author friends (left to right) Lauraine Snelling, Sherry Kyle, and Anita Draper.

Something interesting happened during the last afternoon, however. Several of us had walked outside for a fresh breath of ocean air during our break time. As we leaned over the hotel’s third floor balcony, I just happened to look down and my heart slammed against my ribs. Directly below us was a window washer, standing atop a six foot ladder perched on the edge of a narrow walkway on the second floor, calming whistling as he attended to his tasks. Although it’s hard to tell in these pictures, there is absolutely no ledge to keep his ladder from sliding to the rocks below. None.


I watched him in fascination for several long minutes. Every time he moved farther down the walkway and he swung that ladder wide over the air, dangling the metal contraption into space, my stomach clenched all over again. But the man’s step never wavered. His whistle never stopped. If anything it was like the task was second nature to him, no different than breathing or eating.

If it was me wobbling on that ledge, the scene wouldn’t have been nearly so tranquil, I assure you. The whistle would have sounded more like the screeches of a dying cow rolling down a cliff.

And that’s just me getting to the top of a ladder, the second story ledge not included.

The window washer was comfortable because he had done his task so many times, fear was no longer a factor. He knew the ledge. He knew its strength and its width. He’d tested it over and over again. He could move in freedom, without thought and with a song on his lips while an ocean raged behind him and sharp rocks sat like teeth underneath because he had faith the ledge would hold him up. And it did.


It’s the same with God. The older I get, the easier it is to trust Him. Why? Because He’s proved Himself faithful over and over again. The storms are just as strong, the fire just as hot, the enemy just as diligent, but the fear doesn’t rattle me as it once did. Oh, there’s still some fear. I’m far from what I should be. But the goal is imperfect progress as the Father molds and shapes us into the image of His Son.

Perfect love casts out fear. The deeper we move and live in the knowledge of God’s love for us, the more the fear shrinks.

Maybe someday, I’ll even be able to whistle atop a ladder perched on a second story ledge.

I would love to hear from you. Do you struggle with fear? Have you found it easier or harder to trust God as time goes by? Why or why not?

The One Christian Cliché I’ve Tossed for Good

Thees and Thous.

Hedge of protection.

Traveling mercies.

Let go and let God.

So many odd phrases pepper our western Christian culture. Some are rooted in Bible and some have been twisted over time. Some were never in scripture to begin with.

Over the past two years, I’ve meditated continually on 1 John 2:6.

“…the one who says he abides in Him [Jesus] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”


Okay. So if I want to be like Christ, I just need to walk like Jesus. I gotta say, that seems like a tall order. It’s like being told in order to be pretty, I should just look like Cindy Crawford. I can’t do that. I’m not her.

Thankfully, I’ve learned walking in the same manner as Jesus is possible. It’s allowing His Spirit to mold me into His image. Letting God chip away the hard places in me until I resemble His Son. It’s a journey of imperfect progress of dying to self as I learn to think like Him. Speak like Him. Love like Him. Having my heart so intertwined with His, that the things that cause His heart to grieve, to dance, to rejoice, to become angry, to weep, eventually become the things that cause mine to do the same.

In the middle of this journey, I’ve come to the realization this process might include unlearning some of the popular Christian clichés of the day.

Christianese is a strange, funny, twisted mess, y’all.

One Christian cliché that makes me giggle is “hedge of protection”. What does that mean?  If you’re going to ask for God’s protection on my behalf, could you ask for more than a string of azaleas, please? Maybe a wall? Particle board? Anything more substantial than shrubbery.


Or how about “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” What? So God isn’t big enough to open another door? He’s going to make me crawl through a window? (Or, ahem, pardon my snark, but has anyone forgotten that the enemy can open and close doors too?)

There’s also “God helps those who help themselves”, or “Everything that happens is part of God’s plan.” Both of these are false. There are countless others but one in particular has been bugging me for some time and I’m determined to kick it from my repertoire for good. Yes, I’ve been guilty of saying this Christian cliché classic….

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

What is so wrong about this particular phrase? It sounds Biblical and we know God does not tolerate sin.

“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You.” (Psalm 5:4)

The issue with this little nugget of Christianese is the beginning. “Love the sinner…”

If I want to walk, talk and be like Jesus, I must view people with the same heart Jesus did. Jesus never once told his disciples, or anyone else, to ‘love sinners’. He said, “Love your neighbor”. (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark  12:31)       love-your-neighbor                                                                                                        

When we set up a precedent of saying “Love the sinner”, we are in effect placing ourselves in a place of spiritual comparison. Of superiority. “My sin is not as bad as theirs.” Can you hear the pride and condescension now?

Jesus died for all men and women, boys and girls, race and nationality, offender, dictator and criminal. He loves us all. I don’t have time to be worrying about everyone else’s sin issues. I have enough of my own.

I pitched the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” cliche for good. I think a much better thought would be “Hate sin. Love your neighbor. Jesus will handle the rest.”


For a funny look at other Christian cliches, check out

Are there Christian clichés that drive you crazy? I would love to hear about it!

Disney Theology

Walt Disney messed me up, and it appears I’m not the only one.


Not long ago I was perusing the books at our local Christian bookstore, and began to notice a troubling theme in many of the nonfiction works. A large number of them boasted subject matter along these lines:

  1. “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
  1. “If we dream big, God will bless us.”
  1. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
  1. “God gives you big dreams so He can fill the gap.”
  1. “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
  1. “God never does anything small.”

And on and on it went.

I walked away troubled, though I couldn’t put my finger on why. After a little while, it hit me. Our Christian culture has fallen victim to Disney theology.

Let me explain.

God doesn’t tell us in His Word that His purpose for our lives is to give us ‘dreams’ and see them fulfilled. No, He has plans for us. Not dreams. A subtle but important difference.

“All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.” ~Psalm 139:16

God has a plan for each of us, but not a plan designed to put another notch on our belt for our own sake. His plans have everything to do with bringing glory to His Name…not our own.

Disney theology is a warped, twisted version of the gospel too many of us are buying into. It’s a combination of the American dream, feel-good theology and pursue-what-makes-you-happy, all in the name of following God. (Just so you know, I double checked a few of the above quotes. Quotes #1, #3, and #5 are direct quotes from Walt Disney himself, all them used in some variation by popular Christian speakers, preachers and authors of the day.) dream-is-a-wish

God doesn’t call us to dream big. He calls us to know and walk with Him.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” ~Micah 6:8 AMP

The problem with spending all of our time reaching and achieving our dreams, is that our focus can shift from the Dream Giver to the dream itself. If we aren’t careful, our dreams can become idols. If I wake up each day more intent on pursuing my dream than pursuing Him, I’ve lost sight of what’s truly important.

For too many of us, we get caught up in a dream BIG, think BIG, live BIG mentality. But what if God calls you to a small mission field? I don’t mean small as in unimportant, but small in the sense of numbers. What is more important to you…quantity or depth?

Too many of us are wonder junkies for God. We want to hang with Him when He does the big stuff like parting the Red Sea or raising the dead. But what if He were to call you to minister to a tiny congregation of twenty people? Would that be enough? What if, instead of the huge children’s ministry you’d always envisioned for yourself, He asked you to homeschool your three small children instead? What if you were busy looking for a big platform, but God kept asking you to mentor just one woman who desperately needed accountability and guidance? Would you consider that a failure, or living your life well? A dream achieved? walking-with-god

God can call us into big things, but we should also be careful not to spurn His plan when He calls into the seemingly small things. Even Joseph, a man who was given a glimpse into his future with dreams, spent years living in heartache and agony before God brought the plans He had for him to fruition. And there’s something very important to realize in Joseph’s story: he didn’t have to pursue those dreams. There was no striving or chasing after them because when God declares something to be, it will be. That’s the nice thing about God’s plans versus a Disney dream. There’s no stopping what He sets in motion.

There’s no need to wish upon a star.



Hot Air Balloons, Fence Lines and Lies: Why does God Have Rules?

hot-air-balloonImagine a man slowly sailing through the clouds in a bright, striped hot air balloon. The air is cool, save for the spurt of fire keeping the balloon bellowed and full. As the current toys with his hair, he studies the tiny images below…rectangles of green and brown grass, houses and snaking highways. Everything seems so small, and from his vantage point, he feels so very big.

His hand cups the canvas edges of the basket wall and he frowns. Everything is perfect except for the stupid walls keeping him in. He wants to feel like a bird, to fly, to soar and be free. How can he do that with the ridiculous barricades in place?

What kind of morons would create this beautiful balloon and trap its passengers in a cage underneath? The walls were ruining his fun. Heat burned his chest at the thought. No one could tell him what to do. He was his own man.

He pulled himself over the edge and jumped, no longer bound by restrictions.


Tell me, do you think the man made a wise decision?

Welcome back to our series Liar, a look at the enemy’s most frequent lies, how to identify them and replace them with truth. We’re up to lie number seven: God’s rules are too restrictive.

Some people have the mistaken idea that when you give your life to Christ, God plops a big manual in your lap filled with a list of “don’ts” and “thou shall nots”, all with the expressed purpose of making sure your life from then on is

This is a lie.

Unfortunately, this is a lie even some Christians believe because they have failed to understand the true meaning of grace, or are caught up in the controlling cycle of legalism.

God does give us some boundaries to follow. A fence line, if you will, with clear warnings of what will happen if we go beyond the property lines. He doesn’t do this to ruin our party, or make us miserable. Please hear me. God gives us boundaries to ensure we have the best and happiest life possible.

It’s no different than pulling a toddler’s hand away from a hot stove, or yanking a child away from an oncoming car. You tell them ‘no’ because you don’t want to see them hurt. When a child chooses to ignore a warning, what they perceive as making them ‘happy’ for the moment could actually lead to their destruction.

But, boy, the enemy is so sneaky at making us think what’s beyond that fence is the very thing we can’t live without.

It’s not a new tactic. He’s been trying it from the very beginning. Go to the Bible and look all the way back in Genesis 3.

I still scratch my head, wondering how good that fruit must have looked. After all, Eve was literally living in paradise. Perfect weather, perfect beauty, perfect body, no cellulite, perfect food, perfect husband and a beautiful bond with the God who’d created her. What more did she need?

God told Adam and Eve, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 3: 16,17)

God basically said, “Look around you! You can do whatever you want, except eat from this tree. That’s all.” It was a pretty sweet deal. But instead of thinking of all the things she could have, Eve became fixated on the one thing she couldn’t have. She ate and plunged the entire human race into a spiral of death, disease and decay.


Just like Eve, when we throw aside God’s instructions, we discover instead finding freedom, we actually end up in bondage. Satan promises life but gives death. Always.

This lie, that God’s rules are too restrictive, is closely related to another lie: God really isn’t good.

The enemy knows that once we doubt the goodness of God, we will feel justified in rejecting His will and making our own decisions about right and wrong. And once we’ve shoved Truth out of the picture, our life becomes a hasty spiral into a toxic mess.

“So the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear [and worship] the Lord our God [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] for our good always and so that He might preserve us alive, as it is today.” Deuteronomy 6:24

God only has your best in mind. No matter what you’ve been told, or what earthly examples you’ve been shown, He’s a good Father. There’s no need to learn the hard way.

Know your enemy. There’s nothing better waiting beyond the fence. I promise. Life, beauty and joy waits inside with Jesus.

“Buzz Lightyear Did It”, “I Can’t Help the Way I Am” and Other Ways We Stay Stuck

I stared at the Hot Wheels car submerged at the bottom of our toilet and frowned. I arched my brow and turned to spear my wide-eyed three-year old son with “the look”. He stood in his under-roos, clutching his Buzz Lightyear doll in his chubby arms, blinking those big brown eyes up at me with the innocent look of a deer.

“Nate, did you throw your Hot Wheel car in the potty?”

He swallowed, his eyes darting side to side. When his gaze landed on his Buzz Lightyear, he offered a hopeful, lopsided grin and pointed to the toy with his free hand.

“Buzz did it.”


Ah, the blame game. It’s nothing new. Adam and Eve tried the same thing in Genesis 3. As soon as they got busted for eating the forbidden fruit, Eve said, “The serpent tricked me.” Adam told God, “The woman you made for me offered me some.”

Welcome back to our blog series Liar, a look at the enemy’s most common lies and how to recognize them. We’re up to lie #6: “I can’t help the way I am”. 

How many of us are tired of messing up? How many of us find ourselves falling back into the same cycle of mistakes over and over again? We tell ourselves we should stop our bad behavior and it might even work for a while but then we find ourselves right back at square one. Sometimes in worse shape than how we began.


Let’s stop for a moment and ponder a vitally important truth here: Every sin in our life, especially when it comes to an habitual sin, comes about because somewhere along the way, we’ve fallen for a lie.

A lie is only harmful to us if we believe it.

If I had actually believed my son’s lie that his Hot Wheels ended up in our toilet because Buzz Lightyear did it, then I’d have a real problem. Paranoia would be an understatement. I didn’t believe his lie, so therefore, it didn’t bug me.

But for a lot of us, we have believed the lie that screams, “I can’t help the way I am”.

I’ve always been stubborn, even as a baby.

Everyone in my family is fat. Guess it’s just hereditary.

Look how I was raised.

My dad was an alcoholic. I never had a chance.

I come from a poor neighborhood.

This is just my personality. I can’t change it.

My family never supported me.

History repeats itself.

The problem with the whole “I can’t help the way I am” philosophy is that it’s rooted in a victim mentality, which leads us to think we are helpless, forever a part of the system. It’s a subtle form of keeping us locked in bondage.

Isn’t the enemy sneaky? prison

Think of it this way…if our circumstances, or how we are raised, or any other condition around us makes us who we are, then we are all victims. We have no choices, no input, and no reason to even want any.

But the truth is we do have choices. Sometimes, it’s just easier to play the victim.

“I can’t help the way I am” is another way of saying “It’s not my fault” or, to quote my mischievous son, “It’s Buzz’s fault that the car is in the toilet”.

If the enemy can make us feel trapped, if we never question the cage he’s put us in, then he wins. He has us right where he wants us…defeated.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of us were born and thrust into some tough stuff. The sin curse has permeated everything, rippling down through generations, pooling deeper in some families than others. But you are not doomed to flounder in its sticky mire forever. As Nancy Leigh DeMoss has wisely stated, “Circumstances don’t make us who we are. They only reveal who we are.”

Just like Adam and Eve, it’s easy…wonderfully easy to blame someone else, our family upbringing, our circumstances, our hormones, Mondays, the idiot driver who cut us off in traffic, or any other thing for our issues but ultimately, we are responsible for the decisions we make.

If  you’ve spent your life pointing a finger at the unjustice of your upbringing, the system, or any other blame shifter, then you’re stuck, forever chained to a life of a misery. But on the other hand, there is good news with sin. Yep. You read that correctly. If you sin, that means there is forgiveness. A way out. A way has been made to break free from those cycles that keep pulling you back down.

The lie: “I can’t help the way I am.”

The truth from God:

We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin.” Romans 6:6,7

Jesus died to free you from your families’ bad decisions, from your chains, from your broken way of thinking, from yourself. We may not be able to control the circumstances around us, but Jesus died and rose again to guarantee that those circumstances no longer have to control us.

Replace that lie with God’s truth and then walk in it.

And make sure Buzz Lightyear isn’t hanging around. woody-and-buzz

The Boy in 22 F: When There are No Answers

I was sitting on a rumbling plane in Chicago, waiting for the painfully slow pilot to push us back from the gate. No one seemed to be in a hurry that morning. Not the airline nor the stewards. Even the ground controllers outside my window appeared to be dragging their feet. I blinked the grit from my eyes. I wasn’t faring much better. The stale air blowing through the circular vents overhead wasn’t helping. Everyone seemed sluggish…except for the four year boy seated behind me in 22 F.


The squirming tyke with his high-pitched voice was chattering nonstop, barely stopping for breath, peppering his Dad with question after question.

“Why are dese seats so big?”

“Will we get ice cream on dis plane?”

“Will we be flying into outer space?”

I found myself smiling at his Junior Asparagus style voice and contagious enthusiasm. I set down the book I trying to read as God impressed this directive into my heart, “Listen.”

The boy had apparently pressed his face up against the window, for his voice sounded muffled and mushed. “Why are dose men waving dere arms?”

His father patiently replied, “They signal the pilot and other workers where to go. The plane is big and there’s a lot going on. The men help the pilot see all around him so we don’t bump into anything.”

The boy squirmed and pointed. “What are dose little trucks for?”

I heard a smile in the father’s voice. “Those trucks bring different things to the plane. Some bring fuel. Others carry our suitcases.”

“That’s cool.”

The boy grew silent for a moment when another vehicle must have caught his eye. “What about that one, Daddy? What is that truck for?”

The father looked at the open-air truck carrying spiked pallets. “I’m sorry, buddy. I have no idea what those are used for.”

The boy was quiet.

The father leaned in. “I wish I could tell you the answer. Are you upset that I don’t know?”

The little boy giggled. “Don’t be silly. I don’t need all the answers. I just like asking you questions and having fun with you!”

And then I knew why God had me eavesdrop on their sweet conversation. The boy in 22 F was teaching me, and anyone else who was willing to listen, a beautiful lesson.


We are an answer-driven people. We want to know why.

Why did I lose my job? Why is my health failing? Why is _____________ battling so hard when they have given their life to God? Why does it seem like the cruel people flourish while the good guys barely scrape by? Why was my child born “different”? Why doesn’t my spouse love me anymore?

We want answers. They give us a false sense of control. When we beg God to know the ‘whys’, what we are really saying is, “I need to know the plan. God owes me the details. I want to be the one in the driver’s seat.”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready?

You and I have no control. None. Control is an illusion. Period.

I can’t control how my boss, or anyone else, will treat me. I can’t control or understand how good and bad falls on both the just and unjust, nor can I control it when airlines lose my luggage, when a loved one dies, an unexpected diagnosis, or a thousand other things the human heart hopes to never hear. guarantees-or-god

We can beg and plead for answers all day long. Sometimes we get them. Sometimes we don’t. But in all of our crying for answers, we can miss out on the most important part of walking through the unknown…that is experiencing the God Who is walking through it with us.

A friend recently asked me if I thought my recent struggles with my voice and gastroparesis were due to an attack by the enemy or because God is closing a door in a specific part of my ministry. I told her I had searched and prayed for months but honestly, I had no idea. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to be content in not having the answers. Instead, God has taught me how to redirect my focus into the joy of simply being with Him. In knowing Him in a deeper way, a relationship that isn’t dependent on answers because my trust isn’t based on what He does but is grounded on Who He ispsalm-23

I want a relationship with my Father the way the little boy in 22 F looked up to his. ” I don’t need all the answers. I just like asking you questions and having fun with you…”

I want my faith in Jesus to be unshakable…no answers needed.

Lie #5: Approval Means I’m Loved

We’re up to lie #5 in our series on exposing the enemy’s schemes…”Approval means I’m loved.” This lie was nearly my undoing.

I desperately want people to like me. There. I said it. The thought of someone being displeased with me in any way drops a sick feeling in my gut.

What’s one way to shake that cold feeling of dread? Work harder. Be more agreeable, more likable. Fit in. Be accepted and never, ever let them see the real you. After all, if they know what you’re really like, the acceptance will disappear. Right?   please love me

That’s what I told myself, anyways.

I’ve battled people pleasing all my life. I can readily admit it now, but I would have died a thousand deaths to confess such a thing ten years ago.

At one point, my people pleasing was so bad, and weird, that I couldn’t even express my own tastes for fear of someone thinking I was odd. One day, my friends were chatting about how much they loved fresh tomatoes.

One of them turned to me with smile. “Is there anything more delicious than a fresh tomato, Tara?”

I replied, “Of course not! Nothing better.” tomato

Confession: I hate tomatoes with a passion.

Why did I lie? Especially over something so trivial? Because I craved acceptance. I needed their love. And I mistakenly thought that disagreement led to loss of love.

At the time in my life of my “tomato lie”, I did anything that anyone asked me to do. If a deacon said the sanctuary windows needed to be washed at midnight, guess who was down at the church at the stroke of twelve with Windex in hand?

All of that changed one night in 2002. For lack of a better word, I snapped. My physical body reached its limit and my emotions lay in scattered wreckage. I crawled on to the bathroom floor and curled myself into a ball on the bathmat while I sobbed into the wee hours of the night.

I was so overwhelmed, so undone and so completely exhausted I thought I was drowning. I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t escape. Every fiber of my being cried out for relief. cry

I remember curling the long soft tufts of the burgundy bathmat in my fists, clenching my teeth as salty tears filled my mouth.

God, You lied to me. You said if I served You, You would give me joy. I have no joy. I have no peace. This is not the victorious life You promised.

I was lied to, but not by God. The enemy had fooled me into believing the best way to feel loved was by doing whatever it took to make people like me. I fell for it…hook, line and sinker.

It wasn’t until I found myself begging God to take me out of this life that I realized I had been had.

Somewhere along the way, I took my eyes off Jesus and began living for the applause of people. Men and women just like me. Sinners and failures, just like me. People who have made a mess of their own lives, just like me. People who didn’t die for me, yet I esteemed their opinion as if they did. And I lost sight of my Savior in the process. I gave away freedom and unconditional love and traded them for conditions, hopelessness and chains. hands in chains

I’m tired of shackling myself to others’ expectations when obeying Him is all that matters. I’m tired of being sucked into a spiral of exhaustion when He has promised me rest. I’m tired of living like everyone else’s opinion of me is more important than His. I have no desire to place people, and their approval, as my idol, my focus or my hope any longer.

And that’s what this lie breeds…idolatry.

The common ground sought by people pleasers the world over is this: we have a desperate need to feel loved. We search for unconditional love in conditionally minded people. We crave approval, using it as a gauge to tell us our own worth. But all that matters is what God thinks—and He loved me so much, He gave His own life to redeem me from the land of darkness. It doesn’t matter whether I’m on top of the world or scraping bottom at my worst…His love never changes. And I’ve discovered this amazing truth is what my heart has been searching for all along.

Approval and love are not the same thing. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar. Take it from a girl who learned the hard way.

approval vs lovegalatians 1 10


A Writer’s Prayer


Lord, thank You for the gift of language. Thank You for written words that connect and reveal Your heart to ours. Thank you for the gift of creativity. The way Your Spirit moves through the realm of the unseen muse is a precious gift.

I lift up my words, my written thoughts, my stories on the altar to You, Lord. I do not idolize them, Father, or think they are without flaw, for like me they are messy and tainted by sin. Yet I offer all that I have and yield it to You. In my weakness, show Yourself strong. Where I fail to understand, teach me. When criticism shreds my heart, remind me my heart is to beat for You alone.

Take these feeble words and work Your perfect plan. Spin and weave them into a dance that reveals Your love to hurting souls. Remind me that I cannot continue to fist these words in my hands, even loosely, and still lay them on the altar. Help me surrender all control to You.

I kneel before You in awe of what You are going to do. You are the Author of Life, my Redeemer and King. I love you, Lord. Amen.



Lie #4: God is not really enough.

As part of our series “Liar”, a look at the enemy’s schemes and how to defeat them, we’ve come to a rather tricky little lie. Little #4: God is not really enough.

Why is this one so sneaky? I think it’s because many of us don’t realize we have fallen for it.

The truth is we say Jesus is all we need, we sing it in countless hymns and worship songs and print it on t-shirts and bumper stickers. But do we really mean it? jesus is all i need

I was recently singing Kari Jobe’s beautiful song “What Love Is This” in worship one Sunday morning at church when I came to the line, “You’re all I need”. I was struck by my own hypocrisy. I want to be the follower who truly finds complete and total satisfaction only in Christ, but if I’m honest, there are many days when I’m woefully short.

Usually I say He’s enough, but I also want my kids to behave. I say He’s enough but I also want a healthy bank account. I say He’s enough but I’d also love to have a publishing contract. Am I the only one? Somehow, I doubt it.

Too many of us have the Jesus-plus syndrome. Jesus plus a husband. Jesus plus children. Jesus plus good health. Jesus plus a break. Jesus plus a job that pays enough. I hate to break it to the lot of us but if we’re living our lives with the Jesus plus anything mentality, we have fallen for the lie that God isn’t enough.

Every time we give in to complaining, to wallowing in irritability or fussing about the things that “just aren’t going our way”, we’re telling a world of people around us that Jesus isn’t enough. It tells them that our happiness is dependent on things or circumstances.

Ever since the Fall in the garden of Eden, we have a hole inside. (Genesis 3) It’s a hole we try to fill with all kinds of things: food, shopping, friends, relationships, alcohol, approval, money, power, drugs, our job, sex, achievements or our family. I call these things hole fillers. Do we truly believe God is enough, or are we looking to things and people to fill the empty places of our hearts? hole in heart

It kind of reminds me of the Cherokee Legend of the Wolf.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity and truth. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” ~Galatians 5:17

We must recognize that the deepest longings of our hearts cannot be filled by any created person or thing. People and circumstances will not make you happy.

I tend to find myself rolling my eyes whenever I hear some young, starry-eyed teenager telling her friend, “I can’t wait to meet the man who will complete me.” Cue my snort of derision. I think all those Disney princess movies messed us up in this department. Sorry, ladies, but there is no human man that can fulfill the desires of your heart. No guy, no matter how awesome he is, is flawless. He will let you down. Marriage is not a cure for loneliness.

No man can complete you. Only Jesus can do that. God made us in such a way that we can never be truly satisfied with anyone or anything less than Him.

corrie ten boom hold lightlyOne of my personal heroes is Corrie Ten Boom and I yield to her words here. “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” Wise words. Sooner or later, everything here on this earth will fail. It will die or dissolve. All that will remain is the spiritual. Jesus really is all you need.

As far as those old hymns and popular worship songs of the day go, I’ve tweaked a few of them. Now they say something along the lines of “Teach my heart You’re all I need…” A bit more honest. And after all, honesty is what we’re going for here, right?


Lie #3: “I’m Worthless” and Other Labels


Welcome back to our blog series “Liar”, a look at our enemy and the lies he tells us. As a refresher, we’ve discussed Lie #1 “God’s Main Concern is my Happiness” and Lie #2 “If my life were different, I would be different”. This week’s lie seems to be an arrow flung with far too much frequency by the enemy and one believed by far too many of God’s children. Lie #3: “I’m worthless.”

Whenever I’m teaching at retreats about the enemy’s lies and I come to this one, I ask the ladies to raise their hands if they have believed lie #3 at some point in their lives. Without fail, every hand in the room has gone up. Why? count of monte cristo quote

After listening to story after story, one common denominator seems to resonate through most of these women’s issues…someone at some point gave them a label that stuck.

Names have power. Nicknames can be fun but when nicknames turn into labels, it can be a problem. Let me explain.

I recently conducted a Facebook and Twitter poll asking my friends what their nicknames were growing up. Some of my favorites were Snicklefritz, Squeaky, Casper, Noodle, Idgit, and Sassafras. Cute. Sweet. Then things took a twist.

Soon people started sharing their, uh, less flattering nicknames…monikers like Tubby, Fatso or Motor Mouth to name a few.

Names can turn into labels. Labels stick. Soon we begin to believe the lie that we are what the label advertises.

peachesTo put it another way, labels usually tell us what’s inside, right? If I walk into my pantry and grab a can that bears a label of plump, juicy peaches, I don’t expect to open the can and find black eyed peas inside. The label system works great for canned foods and organizing closets, but not for defining our own worth.

Some of us are slapped with a label just once, maybe twice by some cruel person and we believe the lie. We mistakenly believe we are what the label advertises.

“That boy said I’m ugly. So therefore I must be…

*unattractive to everyone.”

*I’ll always be unattractive.”

*I’m unattractive on the inside too.”

*No one will ever want me.”

On and on the lies go.

A dear friend of mine was told from the time she was young that she was unwanted and it wreaked havoc in her life. Why? Because she believed it. A lie is only detrimental if we believe it.

Maybe you have a label stuck to you that refuses to come off. Maybe it’s “Unwanted”. “Unlovable”. “Black Sheep”. “Depressed”. “Divorced”. “Loser”. “Mess up.” “Victim”. “Condemned.” “Never Good Enough”.

You are more than the label someone has given you.

value and worthThis lie of feeling worthless is based in rejection. Sometimes it may be more than words or feelings. You might have lived through the slicing pain of divorce. A nasty break-up. Perhaps you’ve been rejected by your family, mistreated by your coworkers, or fired from your job. For some, the most devastating blow of all is being forgotten by your children. For others, you might be dealing with the mess from your own consequences and poor decisions and you just need a little grace from people unwilling to give it.

Here’s the thing…your worth does not change based on someone’s ability to see it. 

Consider a priceless work of art. A Van Gogh painting. Pretend you are walking down the street and are stunned to see an original, authentic Van Gogh painting carelessly tossed into a dumpster. Why would anyone do such a thing? Clearly the owner had no idea of its worth. trash

Did the painting’s worth change based on its location or who owned it? No. Its value remained the same. This scenario only shows us the ignorance of the person who discarded it.

Don’t let someone who doesn’t understand your value define your worth.

As always, we need look no farther than Jesus. The Prince of Peace knows exactly what it’s like to be labeled worthless and rejected. 1 Peter 2:4 says this:

“Come to Him [the risen Lord] as to a living Stone which men rejected and threw away, but which is choice and precious in the sight of God.”

Did you catch that? Men rejected and threw away Jesus…the Creator, Redeemer, Savior, their Hope and King. There aren’t enough books in the world to contain all the words to describe the worth of Christ, yet men still rejected Him and threw Him away. It said nothing of His worth, only the inability of the people to understand that God Himself had come down to them. They didn’t understand the treasure they’d been given.

You are precious to God. He loved you so much He would have rather died than leave you in the dark. If you’re still battling lie #3 in your mind, you need look no further than the cross. jesus

Jesus didn’t die for junk. You are immeasurably priceless and loved by the God of the universe. When He gave up His life for you, He gave your life its worth.

Never let anyone tell you differently.