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.

I Am the Best Wife

“You are the best wife,” he said.

“You are the best husband,” she replied.

Spoken at the end of a hard day, a long day, a sad day. We reluctantly cuddled up even though we couldn’t quite get to the bottom of why we were so annoyed of each other. Sometimes life is hard because of external circumstances, and sometimes life is hard because of internal conditions. Sometimes both. In this case, life was hard because of internal conditions… expectations unmet, encouragement not given, vision seen but not close enough to touch.

It’s not that we are or were going through anything major, it’s just that this is life and this is marriage. You give, you take, you sow, you reap, and sometimes you can do everything right and still have bad days (yep, it’s true). Two imperfect people join together to form an imperfect marriage and what do you get? The highest of highs and lowest of lows, the heights of joy, the depths of sorrow, and the worst of all, too: numbness and apathy. But you’re together. That’s the comfort. Not that you don’t go through things, but that you go through things with someone you love and with someone who loves you. I wouldn’t want to go through easy seasons, hard seasons, or apathetic seasons with anyone else.

Hearing you’re the best wife when you feel the least deserving is humbling, redeeming, and healing. Me telling him he’s the best husband when I feel he’s the least deserving is also humbling, redeeming, and healing. Muttering those words closed the distance between our hearts because that is what grace does, it covers blemishes, fills gaps, and offers us a new perspective.

I can’t help but think of Jesus, telling me I’m new, loved, whole, forgiven and redeemed over and over again. And even on the days when I don’t feel I am any of those things, it is still true. That is grace.

To my husband and my husband only, I am the best wife. And grace is that even when I try so hard and come up short, I still am.

“You are the best wife,” he said.

“You are the best husband,” she replied.

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

A Secret to Joy

Over the past year, there’s only been one book, besides the Bible ;), that’s kept my attention long enough for me to (almost) finish it. That book is called One Thousand Gifts and it’s by a woman named Ann Voskamp. Her writing is raw, eloquent, and captivating.

I had a pretty rough year (yep, being engaged/married doesn’t fix all of your problems… However, having someone there who loves you with their whole heart does make the journey from pain to wholeness easier), and only the essentials (Jesus, His Word, and God-appointed relationships) made the cut in my life. You learn to get back to the basics: being thankful for every sunrise, salvation, and God’s love. My lofty revelation for the year was probably just that I need Jesus, every day.

Anyways, I felt pretty numb and empty on and off for quite some time. It felt like I couldn’t “do” enough to fix myself… and the truth is, I still can’t. And neither can you. Only God can do that.

Long story short, I thank God today because I can truly say that He has delivered me from so much heaviness. His joy is truly my strength and I know that He can heal the deepest wounds and reach the darkest places in us, in anyone. My heart is for the people whose hearts are full of pain and nobody knows. It is the world we are living in… whether it’s a homeless woman or a wealthy man in a suit: pain is universal. And yet, God’s love is greater… Anyone who calls on Him will be saved in the whole sense.

Thank you GOD for Your love and mercy!

I asked but never searched

Wandered but never dug 

For answers and sometimes

for anything at all 

 

I begged but never thanked

Cried out but never waited 

 For a sign and sometimes

for anything at all

 

To all the places that I’ve been

where I didn’t think You were

and all the moments I’ve spent wondering

when You were always sure,

 

I’ve opened my eyes to see that You 

weren’t so hidden after all. 

 

No, not so hidden after all. 

Inspired by a quote from One Thousand Gifts:
“The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” 

One Life Source

So there’s probably a blog or a book or a sermon out there that poses the same idea that popped into my head this morning… I wish it was original and revolutionary, but I’m not in denial. Someone else will probably say it better than me too if they haven’t already.

I don’t know about you, but when I wake up feeling heavy or feel like I’m in a rut or need breakthrough, I run to a lot of things before I cling to Jesus. And what I mean by that is… If I woke up heavy in a village with no electricity, none of my current “methods” would work.

..turn on a podcast

..turn on my “It’s A New Season” or “REVIVAL” playlist

..watch one of Beth Moore’s weekly teachings

..YouTube a teaching by someone new if I want to mix things up a little

Yeah, it’s safe to say I’d be in trouble in a village in the middle of nowhere.

The thing is, we have the world of teaching, worship music, etc. at our fingertips because of technology. Just type what you want to learn about in the search engine and bam… charismatic, conservative, Baptist, non-denominational, you can have it all. We can research a 5-step process that will get us out of our pit or we can read about how there is no 5-step process for escaping trials.

We consume mass amounts of information and knowledge because our souls are desperate for truth and freedom, but what did people do before technology?!And, on another, hold-your-breath, note… what about people who don’t even have the Bible?!

…There has to be something more, another life source, that is available to all men and women, with and without technology, with or without the Bible even, and that life source is Jesus Himself… HIM! (Side note: I believe the Word of God is living and should be consumed daily, but I also don’t believe our time in the Word should replace time spent with the Word Himself).

I’m by no means saying we shouldn’t or can’t use technology as a means to grow spiritually, but when it comes time to be intimate with our Father, there should be nothing that stands between us, good or bad, nothing to lean on… it’s about HIM and me, no intermediaries besides Jesus.

Sometimes we need to shut down the technology and stand alone, bare, in a room before our Father… laying down any ideas about Him we’ve gained for the sake of knowing Him in His fullness and in turn being fully known ourselves. 

Though the Fig Tree May not Blossom

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines; 

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food; 

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength; 

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high heels.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Have you ever found yourself at a place where it feels like a thousand disappointments have folded into one big question mark? The… “I trust you God, but where on earth could you be in the midst of this” kind of question mark? I mean… honestly?

We all deal with our question mark differently–there are so many ways, really. You can embrace it in hopes of some sort of comfort, not realizing the toxic emotions confusion and chaos cause when you cling to them so tightly. You can close your eyes and take on the “wake me up when it’s over” mentality, or if you’re like me, you can punch it every time it lowers itself into your way… thinking you’re doing spiritual warfare, but in all reality you’re getting the strength knocked out of you because… well, this is not your [my] fight.

The prophet Habakkuk spoke the words above in a time when, quite literally, everything was going wrong. [External] circumstances were causing [internal turmoil].

The economy was failing, there were threats of war, and on a personal level, he was overcome with feelings of loss, doubt, and grief.

I know a lot of people, including myself, who have been through an extremely hard past year, and I just believe it’s time to stop running away from “negative” emotions because we believe that if we acknowledge our disappoint it means we’re letting God down. …Disappointment is not the opposite of faith. It’s a part of life and we have to learn how to process it in a healthy way if we want to come out stronger.

God might not make our problems vanish, but He is Lord OVER our problems and wants us to know that He is so in the midst of it all. And so I pray over my friends, family, and any stranger that might read this, that you will stop running from question marks in your life, and that you will fall madly in love with the King of Kings who loves your soul and wants to see you whole, healed, full of true joy, and therefore is not disappointed with your disappointment. 

Even when what I hoped and expected and prayed for didn’t happen,

And I sowed and sowed and didn’t get a return,

Though some days I look around and find empty places

that I was convinced would be filled by now,

and it can feel like I gave everything for nothing

 Even then,

Yes,

Yet,

I will  rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength; 

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high heels.