I Accidentally Fell in Love with Theology

“The only way to recoup our spiritual losses is to go back to the cause of them and make such corrections as the truth warrants.”

I read those words for the first time a few months ago. Found in the preface of A.W.  Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy—I was captured from the get-go.

If you would have told me two years ago I would be guzzling down Tozer and a three-inch-thick theology book at midnight on a Wednesday, I would have been really confused and maybe a little annoyed. I used to think theology, the study of God, was for people who traded in relationship with God for knowledge of Him. Puffed up, arrogant, argumentative… nah. I’ll keep it simple with, “Love God and love people.”

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The problem is the longer I live the more I understand that while loving God and loving people is simple, it’s not easy. Maybe because it’s kind of like… marriage.

We can all agree there are two essential ingredients to a lasting marriage: 1) keeping Christ at the center and 2) love. Lots of love. Simple, right?

Simple only if our definition of love and our view of Christ are accurate.

If those two things are off, it’s going to affect, well, everything. The truth is real love involves a willingness to forsake your ideas of what love should be and who you think your spouse is supposed to be, and if I never take the time to get to know Stone, his likes, dislikes, passions, and desires, our relationship will eventually suffer.

In the same way, it’s inevitable that our journey with God will eventually require us to trade our ideas about Him for the truth of who He says He is. And so I would say studying theology is, in part, a sort of laying down of the pieces in exchange for the whole… and this laying down has led me to a greater awe, wonder, and love for this Jesus who so mercifully transformed my life a few years ago. That, my friend, is the best part.

So, how does this relate to you, to me, practically?

I want to propose that while some difficulties we experience are the result of being human and therefore inherently flawed, some difficulties/cycles/unhealthy thought processes are the direct result of our inaccurate beliefs and ideas about God.

“What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” A.W. Tozer

Our beliefs about God matter. They’re worth the questions, digging, and wrestling because love is worth the questions, digging, and wrestling.

 I want to encourage you to submit your beliefs and yourself to something, Someone greater than yourself. Get in the Word, join a Bible study, or research different introductory books on theology if you feel like this struck home! My prayer is that for some of you, a light turns on, a flame is ignited, a hunger is born… for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. May you be willing to forsake small ideas for the Truth Himself if He leads you on a similar journey.

Need thy Neighbor

I haven’t been sharing much. Mostly because I haven’t had much to share. My soul has been quiet… some days quietly content with the season we’re in and where God has brought us to, other days quietly in anguish as I scan headlines and wonder what our world, nation, and city will look like in 10 years.

Devastation seems to be occuring at a rapid rate, the media screams fear, and sometimes (most of the time) it’s paralyzing. So many nations, including ours, are in crisis and I’m supposed to sit back and plan for a normal life as I live my normal (normal meaning mildly-moderately dysfunctional yet drenched in God’s grace and mercy) life?

The truth is I’ve always carried a measure of the world’s brokenness in my soul, but how I carry it has changed. I used to think I had to do something radical to help… Move to a developing country, have a large platform, etc.

But oh how God has changed my call-to-action… Or rather, clarified it.

During a season when I felt empty and purposeless, God opened my eyes to a people group I had never seen before: our neighbors.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark‬ ‭12:30-31‬ ‭

Because at a time when the world is seemingly falling apart, when people are more connected yet more lonely than ever, when we have every reason to be suspicious of every person we come in contact with… what if the best thing we can do is love our neighbors? Yes, our literal neighbors.

If I can wake up everyday and remember that everyone has pain and everyone wants love, I will be more aware of the people I pass in the hall, on the street, and at the grocery store.  And sometimes loving your neighbor is as simple as that: being aware. Seeing. Noticing. Looking someone right in the eyes and smiling instead of pulling out your phone and pretending to read a text.

They need you to see them… And you know what? You need them to see you.

A few hours after I started writing this blog, I was walking in from the parking garage juggling one million things (ladies, why do we do this?!). I passed a neighbor I’d never met and he quickly lent me a hand. My kneejerk reaction was, “Oh no! I’m fine!” but before I could spill out the words out, he was already helping.

You see, I need my neighbors just as much as they need me. I have just as much to learn from them as they do from me. It’s easy to love and be loved when our lives are only big enough for people who think like us, act like us, and look like us, but why live so small? …why love so small?

So, here’s your remedy for the days when you feel like the world is spinning out of control and you’re tempted to join the noise instead of cut through it with love: go take a walk and wave hello to a stranger. Help someone carry their groceries in. Don’t be afraid to walk next door and ask for butter when you run out. Throw a block party. And most of all, when you are tempted to choose fear instead of love, don’t… because only love can warm a world that’s growing cold.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

You’ll Find Him There

There was a time a few years ago when I put my Bible underneath my pillow and slept on it every night. In the midst of chaos, it was plea for His help, my declaration of trust. As childlike as it was, it was all I knew to do. My mind felt broken, and I knew His word and His presence were my only hope for stability.

I went to the lowest of lows, and I found Him there. I didn’t lose Him when and where I thought I would. Or rather, He didn’t lose me when I thought He would.

I’m reminding myself of this today because I’ve watched people I love go down into those low places. I have prayer requests that are too heavy to speak… they sink to the bottom of my heart and I carry them with me, and when I muster up the strength, I lift them up to Him.

What do I want to say to you if you’re in the midst of darkness, or heading into battle?

You’ll find Him there, you will. Some days it’ll seem like He’s gone, but He’s not. He’s in your midst, and someday you will see that more clearly than you do today.

Search His word and ask Him to reveal scriptures and promises to you for your situation. Cling to those scriptures. When it feels like you can’t make it a step further, mutter them out loud.

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

Waves of Grace

I resist change, and yet I crave it
I crave consistency, in an inconsistent kind of way

I am learning, or at least I want to learn
About rhythms of grace and depths of peace
Not found in balance or boxes
No, In Him I live and move and have my being


Change is inevitable
And consistency only takes us so far
Even when we have it
But He is constant

His presence my refuge
His will, His palm
The safest place I’ll ever be


Waves of grace wash over me
Steady is Your promise
That guides me in the seas

Ever Striving

Bitterness… have you ever tasted bitterness? I have and I can tell you this… It is the foulest thing. It’s so foul that it taints the prettiest views, moments, and people. It is poison just like they say.

Loss… have you ever felt it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the saddest thing. It’s so sad that it refuses the most joyful pleasures and drains full cups when there’s no reason to. It stings just like they say.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

I guess it’s all part of what

Makes us human.

Beauty… have you ever seen it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the most healing thing. It’s so healing that it can flood places in your soul that say “DO NOT ENTER” and bring life to the deadest of senses. It is something to behold just like they say.

Hope… have you ever held it? I have and I can tell you this… It is the most freeing thing. It’s so freeing that it can make you feel like you’re on top of a mountain when you’re standing in a valley. It can make you sing when there’s no reason to and, yes, it changes everything just like they say.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

I guess it’s all part of what

Makes us human.

These things we feel

And the ways we feel them,

Created in His image

Ever striving to be like Him.

If I Could Just

If I could just feel it.

If I could just be that.

If I could just go there.

If I could just change it.

If I could just fix it.

If I could just make it go away.

Always waiting for something, always looking for something, always asking for something, aren’t we? And yet the secret is this, we find time and time again: the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

Yes, you heard me, it’s not. I know this, and deep down, so do you.

If you got that thing you’ve always wanted and if you were that person you’ve always thought you should be there would still be a hole because you are not perfect, neither am I, and we aren’t promised tomorrow. These longings that we have ultimately meet their end in a land that we have yet glimpsed.

Heaven is the other side… and there, we will find our green grass and so much more.

Until then, I don’t have much of a solution for the “If I could just” syndrome. All I can say is that He is enough, and I am enough because He is in me. You are enough because He is in you.

Being consumed with what we think life should be or could be can be crippling… so crippling that it can prevent us from actually living. I encourage you to simply trust God with yourself and your life. Live in His presence today, not in your worries, concerns, and desires.

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Notes on Watching the Nashville Symphony

Few things are more beautiful than watching someone do something with their whole heart. That is passion.

This performance is beautiful, exquisite. I saw a man in the audience a few minutes ago who didn’t know what to do with his hands, exercising self-restraint, enthralled by the sound he was hearing… He was having trouble waiting until the end to give his applause.

An applause is all we have to give. It is the grand finale, and yet, they are not performing for an applause.

They have done this many times before, perfectly, with the same passion.. With no applause waiting for them at the end.

I’ve come to the conclusion that their performance must be for something greater than an applause.

 

It seems when you do something with your whole heart,
Void of vain conceit,
That
joy begins to smear itself… and blurs the lines between practice and performance until it all begins to feel the same.

And then, one day, when your heart is consumed with passion, the applause that was once the aim becomes the backdrop, a faint sound in the distance.

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What burns in your heart? What is that thing you’d do if no one was watching? …If everyone was watching? Passion that’s not taught or learned, but a fire that grows from the inside out, is what we crave. 

“And whatever you do, do it heartily [wholeheartedly, sincerely, genuinely, warmly, profoundly, with all one’s heart], as to the Lord and not to men…” Colossians 3:23