I have been reading the book of John lately. And something struck me about the commands of Jesus, about the instructions he left his disciples with.

In several places, Jesus referred to the "commandments" which we can assume are the commandments given to Moses. Those who came in contact with him were told that it was good, and even necessary for eternal life, to keep the commandments. Jesus also did much of his teachings through parables and stories, and we can agree that commandments came out of those - although not explicitly stated as commands, they were lessons that the disciples were to take to heart and teach to others.

But what I find fascinating is that the only command Jesus gave, spoke, or deemed necessary to repeat and be explicit about in the book of John was the command to love one another. That's it.

John 13:34: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 15:12: My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15:17: This is my command: Love each other.

Those times that Jesus explicitly said, "this is my command" were the times he simply said, "love one another."

Often, thinking about being a disciple of Christ can be overwhelming. So many commandments. So many rules. Are you supposed to agree with the conservatives or the liberals? Are you supposed to think charismatics are weird or really tapping into the power of the Spirit? Are you supposed to bad mouth the Westboro Baptists (you know, so people don’t associate YOU with them) or pray for them?

With so many varying opinions about what it means to truly be a “Christian,” it is difficult to discern what actions you should take and beliefs you should have to be the “right” kind of Christ-follower. But when you step back and look at the big picture, being a disciple of Christ does not seem as overwhelming or unattainable. Maybe that is because I have made it too simple, but I don’t think so. When broken down to its most basic level, the call to discipleship involves one major thing. As Jesus taught his followers,  “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” There is no greater mark by which others will know that you are a follower of Christ than by how you love those around you. Christ is seen in how you love and treat those you come in contact with on a daily basis.

It matters less what one does or how they do it, what matter most is living life as an act of worship to God, a love letter from Him to those you find yourself surrounded by. With this in mind, discipleship becomes much more accessible –something everyone can do no matter where they find themselves in the journey of life and faith. We are not all called to one specific form of Christianity, but we are all called to love. And we can follow the example of Jesus as we learn what it looks like to love others and have God’s heart for his Church and his people.

I know we all feel strongly about causes we want to champion. We have strong opinions about homosexuality, abortion, Obama, gun laws, immigration, terrorism, war, unemployment, environmental laws, and the list could go on and on. Those logs in other people’s eyes we want to remove. Sins we see that we feel called to confront. And, perhaps, all of that can be forms of love. But we have to ask ourselves where our motivation comes from.

God can and will bring change through us. Every act we take on behalf of God in a call to discipleship is a call to bring humanity closer to reconciliation with God. No amount of eloquent rhetoric regarding stances on abortion, just war, gay marriage or racism will achieve this, only love will. Christianity is not a stance or a position, it is an action, a call to love and a charge to consider the other more important than yourself. It is a call to see the divine in them, believe in their potential and fight on their behalf to bring reconciliation with an all-loving God.

This post first appeared on The Salt Collective


Power of Light

"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy - the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."
-Brené Brown


Prayer as a Weapon

I have been convicted lately.
Convicted by people that use prayer as a weapon.
Don’t get me wrong. I think prayer is powerful. One of the most powerful things we have.
And it can be a weapon. But a weapon we are supped to use against the forces of darkness - not against each other.

I have a friend going through a significant period of questioning. And he’s made it very public. Some people don’t like various aspects of how he’s going about it. My point is not his questioning - my point is the reactions he’s getting.

Christians. Lovers of God. Brothers and sisters in Christ - are using prayer as a weapon against him.

And that feels dirty.

When you write mean, hurtful and cutting things against a person. When you shove bible verses in front of their face meant to “convict” them and say that you are “doing it in love” because they need to hear the judgement and then end each hurtful comment by saying “you better believe I am praying for you!!!” those prayers don’t feel very sincere.

I was reading Matthew 5 in my copy of “The Message” and read this: “And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true be embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”

If you’re sincerely praying for someone - then do it! And pray also that God changes the bitterness in your heart. You don’t have to shove pious religious acts in their face as if you believe it’ll suddenly change their ways.

God is bigger then the point you are trying to make. Bigger than the judgement you feel you need to bring down on someone.
God does not need defending.

And for the record. Facebook is a horrible place to try and win someone back to the Lord. Those types of things are typically done in relationship - not through random bible verses and points of view pasted on someone’s wall. 



She just stood there and wept. Tears running down her cheeks. She’d reach up to gently wipe them off only to have more instantly reappeared.

She began sharing about her addiction. Drugs and alcohol. And the insurmountable obstacles she faces in her life.

It's not so easy to just enter a rehab program, she tells us. Addictions are dark and heavy - so dark that she was willing to leave her three children. "WHO does that," she cries. She hates herself and the choices she has made. But she has to have the drugs and alcohol to turn the tricks and feels trapped. She feels like every car she gets into might be her last - she never knows which john might be dangerous and hurt her, or even kill her.

But at the same time, she knows the Lord and cries out to him. While other girls simply took a gift bag and walked away quickly from us, she stayed and chatted for almost a half hour. “If humiliating myself and humbling myself by crying and being a fool is what it takes for God to get my attention, then I am going to sit here and cry and receive prayer.” She believes God is real and every time she runs into us feels he is calling to her, pursuing her, but she just lacks the strength to make the changes she needs to in her life and face the obstacles holding her back. She prayed with us that one day the Lord would make the taste of alcohol horrible to her lips.

We prayed with her. We cried with her. We embraced her. We let her know that being a slave to your addictions is powerful and horrible and difficult. And we don't want her to deal with it alone. We want to walk with her - even before she's ready to go into a rehab program.

“Even though you might not see my life changing what you are doing is changing me. Just to know that someone cares enough to come out here for us, nobody does that, not even our families.”

It’s not a word for word quote, but it’s close. She told us last night that she’d been out on that track for three years and that we’d been there with her all those years. And she was grateful.

Consistency. Sometimes it’s the most powerful thing you can do – more powerful than any statement you could make or advice you could give. It is a really long road to recovery. These women have learned not to trust people in their life, so we have learned to be consistent in building a relationship with them week after week and week and year after year.

I pray consistency for you in 2014. In whatever area of your life you need it. May you be faithful, even in the smallest of things, and trust the Lord to do his good work.

Christ with us, Christ before us, Christ in us.

This post first appeared on The Salt Collective


change your life

There are a few things I might start working on with the dawning of a new year. I am not one to really make “resolutions” - I think I get intimidated to stick with something if it is a RESOLUTION (!!!!) but I do okay if I think of little ways I can live and feel a healthier, fuller and well-rounded life. So for now, I am trying to be more thankful and drink more water.

But one other thing I am trying on is not being so picky, over-analytical and perfectionistic about my blog. I think the reason I don’t write on here very often is because I feel like I have to have some amazing, thought-provoking insight to share with the world. So for now, I’m going to be content in just sharing what I’m thinking about (and hope that every so often it might touch on something slightly resembling a profound insight).

I was reading Matthew 3 yesterday in The Message and two phrases stuck out to me:

“Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”
“It’s your life that must change, not your skin!”

I do not often enough live in the reality that God’s kingdom is very much alive and present and at work. It is easy to live into the “not yet” realities of God’s kingdom - because it is easy to see how much is missing, how much oppression there is, and how much I wish things would change. It is a lot harder to see what goodness there is, the progress that takes place on a daily basis, and how I am called to participate in and advance the already present kingdom. Change your life! Don’t just sit idly by and wait for the coming kingdom - it is already here. Take part!

And “it is your life that must change, not your skin.” It is so much easier to focus on our outward appearance - how to change our skin to look good and make it appear as though we have our shit together. Right? I often wonder what would happen if just for a day our inward appearance was reflected on the outside. If my self-pity and bitterness and apathy showed up as pimples and obesity and the stomach flu - how AWFUL would that be? I would certainly pay more attention to my body and try to “fix” it. But we can’t “see” those things as tangibly so they are easier to ignore. Our bodies are there, in front of our faces everyday - so that’s what we pay attention to. And I understand that our bodies are deeply connected to every part of us and taking care of them is necessary - but I wonder what would happen if I took just as seriously changing my heart and mind as I do my body. Perhaps I need to give as much attention to the unseen as I do to the seen - just because it is hidden away does not mean it is healthy.