With Bated Breath

This isn’t my normal kind of post, but considering I write here about once a year now, I don’t really have a “normal kind of post” now do I? This was my prayer this morning. I thought I’d share it mostly so I have a record of it. I am not a poet, but these were the words of my heart today.

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I believe you have put a hunger in my heart.
I have an insatiable appetite for more of You;
more of your presence; more miracles;
more of your life-transforming power.
This hunger lives in the pit of my stomach.
It has laid dormant for so long.
I haven’t fed the hunger – the desire –
so I’ve forgotten.
I’ve settled. I’ve slept.
But you are calling me.
You’re peeling back the curtains and letting in the light.
You’re whispering, “Come dine with me.
Oh, my precious daughter, a feast awaits.
Come. Eat. Drink.
Be satisfied.
I have more for you.”

Father, show me.
Lead me to your table.
Let me drink of your water.
My soul thirsts for you! Oh my heart yearns for you.
Nothing else satisfies.
In this dry & weary land You are my oasis.
I come to You.
I come to the river and I drink deep.
I feel the precious liquid rush down my throat –
quenching my thirst, yet leaving me wanting more.
More. More! I need more of your presence!
I want to drink it in –
to feel it pour down my face and splash across my lips.
I want to soak in it – to bathe in it.
I’m not satisfied.
Crash over me with your waves of refreshing life.

I abandon myself to you.
I let myself fall into your love.
Wash away the dirt, the grime, the waste of this world.
Massage away the doubt & fear and fill me with You.
You. You are my hope.
You are my strength.
You are the breath of life; the living water.
I eat of your goodness.
I drink in your peace.
I breathe in your love.
I wait.

With bated breath, I wait.
I listen.
I wait for your voice –
Your instruction; Your guidance;
Your love song.

“I am constant.
Breath me in.
in – and out – in – and out.
I will sustain you.
When you get tired, just breathe me in.
in – and out – in – and out.
When you are weak.
in – and out – in – and out.
When anxiety comes crashing in.
in – and out – in – and out.
When you face trouble
– in –
pain.
– out –
deserts.
– in –
sickness.
– out –
I am here.
– in – and out –
I am here.
– in – and out.
Fall in love with me.
There’s no one like me and there’s no one just like you.
Together we will have a beautiful romance.
Don’t you think?”

“The Spirit and the bride say ‘come.’ Let anyone who hears this say ‘come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” – Revelation 22:17

When Things are Out of Your Control

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This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. As many of you know, Jeff and I recently announced that we’re expecting a baby! This is exciting and

absolutely. freaking. Terrifying.

I really battled with fear and anxiety in the first trimester. I was so scared of losing the baby, that I was convinced every other day that we had miscarried. It’s my first pregnancy, so every new feeling or ache or “symptom” threw my thoughts into the worst places. I was constantly wondering “Is this normal? Is something wrong? What if something’s happened to the baby?!” It’s my worst fear, and the whole situation is so out of my control that I’ve had to learn (again) how to trust God with things that scare me. (see where I’ve written about this before.) I know I’m not alone on the anxiety train. There are many passengers and many reasons for being there. Some may step on board when illness hits, others when family troubles come our way. It could be problems at work, in our marriages, with our friends – whatever the reason is, troubles happen in life and most of the time it is very much out of our hands. So what do we do?

A little while ago I was having some bad headaches, so of course my first move was to google it. Wouldn’t you know it, after rabbit-trailing for a while I ended up reading some articles that said the headaches could be a sign of something wrong with the baby. My thoughts went immediately to “I knew it! This MUST be what’s wrong with me. Something’s wrong just like I suspected all along. What am I going to do?” I felt my anxiety level rising and I thought to myself, “This is not helping me. If there is something wrong then we’ll deal with it, but in the meantime this is just stressing me out!” so I decided to read some scripture instead of internet articles. I found some verses dealing with fear, and when I prayed them out loud I immediately felt peace. Since that time I have been trying to read scripture out loud more often. You see, when things are out of our control, we know the One who has EVERYTHING under His control. And what’s better – He’s even given us a book to remind us of these things.

If you’re not reading the Bible everyday – no guilt trip at all, but seriously DO IT. When we read the Bible we remind ourselves and we remind the devil of what God has promised us in His scriptures. Have you thought about that lately? If you’re a Christian you presumably believe that the Bible is God’s Word and therefore absolute truth These are PROMISES He has given us. Let me just remind you of some of the things His word says.

He pursues us with goodness and love. -Psalm 23:6

He will not withhold any good thing from us. – Psalm 84:11

He will give us a new heart and put HIS SPIRIT in us! – Ezekiel 36: 26

He will complete the work in us which He has started – Philippians 1:6

He will supply all of our needs according to His riches and glory. – Philippians 4:19

He will set us free! – John 8:36

He will give us rest for our souls. – Matthew 11:28-29

And there are so many more! How great are these promises!? Do you believe them? Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that these are true. When I felt the enemy whispering in my ear “You’re going to miscarry. You’re going to be a terrible mother” or whatever garbage he was trying to put in my mind I would pray and ask for peace, but I was still on the defensive. I want to be on the offensive. I want to be pushing back the lies and the darkness before it even has a chance to attack me. In Romans 10:17 it says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God.” We should all be reading and meditating on the scriptures every day, but I encourage you to take it a step further and speak it out loud to yourself. There is power when we speak the Word of God and say, THIS is what I choose to believe. THIS is what I stand on. THIS is the truth. When we start our mornings by speaking the Word of God over our lives our faith is increased and the Devil must flee. God has given us His Word – His promises – as a reminder to our souls that He is good. He is faithful. And

HE IS IN CONTROL.

They Will Know Us By Our Love

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In the weeks leading up to our wedding both Jeff and I received countless pieces of advice. One gem of wisdom that seemed particularly insightful was when people warned us to never speak poorly about the other. “Don’t talk bad about your husband. To anyone. Ever,” they instructed me.” “Protect your wife. Don’t badmouth her or let anyone else do it,” they would tell Jeff. In the short time we have been married I have found that this is sound advice. If I’m frustrated with Jeff I talk to HIM about it. If there are problems in our marriage we address them TOGETHER – with each other and with trusted mentors and friends if needed. We are a team. Complaining about his bad habit or poor behaviour to someone else doesn’t fix anything and it only breaks down the trust Jeff and I have built up with each other. If Jeff were to complain about me to his friends I would feel ashamed and bullied – not exactly conducive to a strong & happy marriage.

For a while now I have been thinking about how we as Christians respond to the failures and shortcomings of the church. I’ve been increasing alarmed at the posts I’ve seen on Facebook from Christian friends, but up until now I’ve remained quiet. If the church is the bride of Christ, shouldn’t we be treating her like it? I think maybe we should take some of this marriage advice and apply it to our union with the Church. There have been many “Christian scandals” in the media over the years – In the last year I can think of Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church, and more recently the Josh Duggar Story. As these stories unfolded I saw post after post, blog after blog, and story after story tearing these people apart, and unfortunately most of them were from Christians. Everyone and their mother just had to share their opinion on something that frankly, was none of their business. They had to get their “I told you so” in, or their “this is what’s wrong with the church today” comment posted. And yes, people are what’s wrong with the church, but they’re also what make up the church! People are flawed. The church is flawed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful. It doesn’t mean we should forget who we’re married to. We are a team. We’re in this together. Instead of condemning people, shouldn’t we be coming alongside them and saying, “We forgive you and we love you. Let us help you.”

In Ephesians Chapter 4 we are told to “let everything [we] say be good and helpful, so that [our] words will be an encouragement to those who hear them (vs.29), and later it tells us Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you (vs. 31-32). Our words and our actions should be used to build up and encourage one another, not to tear each other down. There are enough trials and pains in this world without the harsh words of our brothers and sisters ringing in our ears. Before Jesus went to the cross He didn’t just advise us to love each other, he commanded it. He said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35). Our love for each other is what should be setting us apart. It should be our very definition. But too often I hear people complaining about the worship set or the pastor’s sermon. I hear them writing all over the internet about how they’ve been hurt or offended by someone in the church. This isn’t how it should be dear brothers and sisters! If there are issues that need be addressed, by all means address them, but I’m sorry to say, the internet is not the place to do it! If you have an issue with something the pastor said on Sunday, do not go and complain to your girlfriend on Monday. If you’ve been hurt by a leader or another member go to that person. Matthew 18 gives great instruction on how to deal with personal conflict within the church. As a global church though, we must stand together, support one another, and build each other up. Put your differences aside. Stop casting stones when sin comes to light, and get on the same team.

 

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

– 2 Corinthians 13:11, ESV

 

 

 

All You Need Is Love

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As most of you know, my husband and I recently moved to the nation of Bangladesh. We are busy learning the language and seeing what kind of a future we could have in this beautiful country. As we go through our days, God has been taking us back to the basics. He’s been showing us what REALLY matters. He’s been reminding us again and again that the not-so-secret trick to following Him is really simple. Love Him and love others. All you need is love. Now before you go running off singing Beatles’ tunes, I have a few things to say about what real love looks like.

Real love is unconditional. It is self-sacrificing. It’s inconvenient, and sometimes painful. Real love is the greatest thing you will ever experience, and what we all long for deep within our souls. Love – REAL love is powerful! Christ’s love for us is what led Him to the cross. His Love is what conquered death and the plans of the enemy. Love is the source of all things. God IS love. So what do we do with this big incredible thing called love? What does it look like to love someone with THIS kind of love?

In Luke we read about a man who came to Jesus asking about inheriting eternal life. He had been taught (correctly) that we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind as well as love our neighbours as ourselves. However there can be a little confusion about who our neighbour is and what is entailed in the act of loving them. Jesus clears this right up by giving the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story we hear about a man who has been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Jesus tells that a Priest came by and also a Levite (assistants in the temple), but they passed by the man on the other side of the road, possibly not wanting to defile themselves. He then speaks of a Samaritan who sees the man and has pity on him. The Samaritans and Jews would not typically have any dealings with each other in this time period, and a Samaritan would not have been originally from that area, so he definitely couldn’t be defined as a physical neighbour. But this Samaritan man goes over to him, pours olive oil and wine on him, bandages his wounds, and takes him to an inn where he can recover. He stays through the night caring for the man, and when he leaves the next day he gives money to the innkeeper to care for the injured man. The Samaritan says, “If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.” This is what real love looks like. Real love is messy. The man who was beaten would have been bleeding and dirty, but the Samaritan got down on his knees – in the middle of the mess – and helped the man. He didn’t just throw him on the back of the donkey and bring him to a doctor. No, he took his own oil and wine and cared for the man like he would care for a brother or a good friend. He took the time to do it properly. He stayed the night to ensure the man was cared for, and he paid extra so that the man wouldn’t have to worry when he woke.

Maybe you’ll never run across a naked guy on the street who’s been beaten up and robbed, but what are the needs around you? Do you hear them and emotionally cross on the other side of the street – saying, “oh, I’ll pray for you,” or do you get down on your knees and help people in the middle of the mess? It’s easy to throw money at a charity or show sympathy when a friend (or stranger) is going through a hard time. It’s much harder to emotionally and physically invest in people’s lives. A few weeks ago Jeff and I went out to a village and we had an opportunity to pray for the sick. This is pretty common here, so I was used to praying over groups of women (Jeff prayed for the men). I could have said a simple prayer and moved on, but God had something else in mind. I don’t have enough of the language yet to really pray in Bangla, so I was praying for the women in English and in the Spirit. I felt like God was saying “It’s not your words that heal. It’s my Spirit.” So I began to just pray that Holy Spirit would come. I asked Him to do what He needed to do in the women’s lives. That He would touch them and heal them, but even more than that, I prayed that they would sense His overwhelming love for them. And you know what? His Spirit came. Before long I was holding these women like they were my sisters, my aunts, my friends. We were just holding each other and bawling our eyes out, and I thought “Words don’t matter when you have this.” Words don’t matter when Love is present. Words don’t matter when God is present. Many people were healed that weekend – praise God! But even more exciting was the way God’s love completely transformed these people. Their faces were shining, they had hope in their hearts, and they had new energy and excitement to follow God. That kind of TRANSFORMING love is what I’m after.

1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that we could have all the knowledge and all the faith in the world, but if we don’t have love, we are nothing. (vs. 2) Wherever you find yourself, whoever you come into contact with, take the risk and invest in them. Show them love – REAL love – and watch as God absolutely transforms their lives and yours.

Love is patient. Love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonour 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 12:4-8]

Silver and Gold Have I None

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You may have noticed that I haven’t written in a while. This is partly due to the fact that I was busy moving across the world and partly due to the fact that I ran out of things to write about. Generally when I blog I like to think about a certain topic for a while, figure out what I believe and then write about it in a nice, neat little package. Then I realized that there are only so many topics that I can fit into a nice little box where I have all of the answers. So now I want to invite you into my thoughts and questions on a topic I DON’T have the answers for. I want to talk about beggars. I would guess that every major city in the world has them and it’s challenging to know what to do. Do I give money? Do I give food? What would Jesus do?

The first time I was faced with beggars I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to help, but I was told not to. At first it was hard to walk down the street or drive by in my car and not reach out. I wanted to stay locked up in my room and not face the outside world. But gradually it got easier. The faces began to fade, my heart got a little bit harder, and soon the beggars weren’t an “issue” for me anymore. I had my answer: “Don’t give to anyone.” I heard rumours about scams, kidnapping rings (as seen on Slumdog Millionaire), and the homeless using the money for drugs and alcohol. I used these stories to pacify my conscience and fuel my belief that I was doing the right thing. Then one day I realized that I had lost my compassion. I didn’t even look these people in the eye, and that was not right. So, I swung in the opposite direction. My new motto was “Give to everyone.” I thought, “This isn’t my money. It’s God’s money, so I’ll give it away any chance I get and what they do with it is between them and God.” I remember one day when some friends and I were visiting a major city in Canada and we were approached by a man asking for money. He told us a story about why he needed it, so I fished around in my wallet for some cash and handed it over. He thanked us and promptly walked into a liquor store. “Okay,” I thought, “That didn’t feel very good. I’m just a part of the problem now. Maybe it’s not so cut and dry.” Aiming for the middle of the road, I took to buying people food instead of handing over money. This works in some situations – when I have extra time to search for a fast food place, when the beggars actually want food instead of cash, when there aren’t a ton of other beggars around to swarm me – but it’s an answer that falls short in many situations.

For those of you who don’t know, my husband and I just moved to the nation of Bangladesh. We live in the capital city of Dhaka and we attend a language school where we’re learning Bangla.** In a city of over 16 million you are constantly surrounded by people. Every day as we walk to school we pass by a blind man who calls out for alms, a boy with no feet, several others with legs so disfigured they must be carried to their spot and they lay baking in the sun, an old man with the biggest smile you’ll ever see, several tender old ladies whose faces are always to the ground and they don’t seem to have the energy to whisper, a woman with a tumour in her leg the size of a watermelon, and countless other men, women, and children who spend their days begging. I walk by these people every single day. How can I ignore them? How can I help them all? How can I fix the broken system which puts them in this situation? I don’t know.

I found myself asking that good old WWJD question. What would Jesus do? Surely these people are some of the “least of these” that we are to care for from Matthew 25:40. I racked my brain for any instances in the Bible where Jesus or any of his disciples gave money to a beggar. The first story that came to mind was from Acts 3. Peter and John meet a crippled beggar outside the temple gates. When he asks them for money Peter replies, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but what I do have I will give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” and BAM he’s healed and he starts walking, and leaping, and praising God. Now THAT idea is something that puts me right outside my comfort zone, but makes me hunger for God’s power to come. I want to have the faith to approach that boy with no feet and say “in the name of Jesus, get up and walk.” I don’t think I’m there yet, but I want to be. The thing that strikes me even more about this story is that the guy was just asking for some change, but in the end he got something so much more. Maybe I need to approach this by saying, “I don’t have silver and gold, but what I do have – a relationship with Jesus, love, peace, joy – these things can be yours too!”

As I continued to ponder these things this week I came across the Sermon on the Mount in my devotional time. Matthew 5:42 says, “Give to anyone who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Well that puts me right back in the “give to everyone” category, so I don’t know what to do with that piece of scripture. All I know is that this is an area that will probably challenge me until the day I die, but I never want to become numb to the needs of the people around me. I beg you not to turn a blind eye to those around you, even when there is no easy answer. So now I ask you… What do you do when the women and children tug on your shirt and say “madam, madam?” What do you do with the man who has no arms and one leg? What do you do when they tell you the money is to feed their children? What do you do when he smells like alcohol and he says he’s just having a rough time? What do you do when she’s shouting to the voices in her head? What do you do with the examples of Jesus and the disciples? What do you do?

Holy Spirit guide us.

Lead us into your truth and your way.

Let us always respond with compassion and love.

Give us your power.

To God be the glory.

Amen.

** Please know that I don’t wish to put down Bangladesh in any way by writing about these things. I have a huge love for this country and a great respect for the people here. As I’ve said, this is a problem found all over the world.

SIN – the great equalizer

bad-dog-breathAs promised, a blog post entirely comprised of my thoughts on sin. I don’t claim to have all the answers, to be the authority on the matter, or even to be right. However, I am an expert on the subject. Aren’t we all? If we’re truly honest with ourselves don’t we sin every day?

I grew up in the church. I love the church. I believe in the church. I also know that the church is made up of people and people are not perfect. In my youth the only teaching I received from the church about sin was “don’t do it.” and there was an unspoken idea that if you had Jesus in your heart you shouldn’t be sinning anyway. But what was a young woman to do when faced with sin? I was never taught how to deal with it – only how to hide it. Never – not once – did anyone call me out on sin, ask about sin in my life, or offer to mentor/help me through struggles I was having. Basically the idea I had was “don’t talk about sin; don’t think about sin; and maybe it will go away.” By the time I entered University I had successfully convinced myself that sin wasn’t a problem for me. Oh sure, I had a stray thought here or there, but for the most part I had escaped the “big sins.” This is a major lie that many in the church believe today. There are NO bigger or smaller sins. Sin is sin. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. Period. It wasn’t until a Spirit-filled professor called me out on the pride eating away at my soul that I began to look at the sin in my heart. Psalm 139 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart…” I asked the Spirit to reveal things I had said or thought that showed pride in my life. I painfully opened my heart up to scrutiny and criticism. I asked close friends if they had ever felt belittled by me. I asked if they saw any evidence of pride in my life. They were honest with me and it hurt. I felt terrible, but I also knew where to go. I ran to Jesus. I started paying attention and I realized that EVERY DAY I was sinning. EVERY DAY I needed grace. You see, the moment we start believing the lie that we don’t sin anymore is the moment we start to think we don’t need the gospel. In that same moment we separate ourselves from “the sinners” as if they’re two different categories. WE ARE ALL SINNERS. Jesus is in my heart and in my life. He influences my thoughts, decisions, and conversations. And yet, I still sin all the time, because I’m human. It may be a thought soaked in anger or frustration. It may be a white lie to cover up a mistake. It may simply be doing things my way that day instead of listening to what the Holy Spirit is asking me to do. It doesn’t matter what it is. The point is that I recognize I am no better than anyone else. I am constantly in need of His love and grace to renew and transform me.

This is where the good news comes in. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Now THAT is good news! Just because I sin all the time doesn’t mean that it defines me. I am a new creation. I am defined by my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I am a daughter of the Most High God and a coheir with Christ! Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we can approach the throne room of God with boldness because I am no longer defined by my sin, but I am defined by what Jesus did on the cross for me. Sin has no hold on me! I think we need to recognize our fallen nature and tendency towards sin because if we don’t we forget why we need Jesus in the first place. However, we can’t stop there. We cannot wallow in self-pity. We must rise to the occasion and become the men and women God is calling us to be. So what do we do with sin? How do we deal with sin in the church? Again, I don’t have all the answers, but I have some thoughts…

If you’re dealing with sin in your own life…

  1. Psalm 139 – Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and let you know where there is sin in your life. Often we are completely blind to these areas. Also, ask him what is at the root of the sin. I might know that I lied, but not realize the reason I lied is that I have issues with facing rejection. I need to deal with the heart of the issue, not just the symptom.
  2. Confess – Confess to God first, but then confess to a friend or mentor. It’s probably one of the scariest things you’ll ever do, but IT WILL SET YOU FREE!! Every single time I have admitted sin to a friend they have responded with “Me too! I’m so glad you said that.” If you refer to my previous post I talk about how we’re not alone in the issues we face. Having someone to confide in, to hold you accountable, and to encourage you in the journey is one of the best resources you will ever have. I would not be the woman I am today without incredible friends who have walked in vulnerability with me.
  3. Go to Church – I know, it sounds cliche, but remaining in a church community is VITAL to healthy spiritual growth. Satan wants to separate you from community and make you believe that you are alone. When I have been trapped in sin the last thing I want to do is go to church. I want to run away and hide, but I cannot do that. God has given us the church as His body here on the earth. Go to church and be poured into so that you have the strength to keep going.

How the Church should respond to sin

  1. Grace – We are all covered by the grace of God, so when someone is caught in sin or comes forward with sin we must respond with grace. This goes against everything in human nature. We want to see people punished for their actions. We want to see an outward sign that they have learned their lesson, but that’s not what Jesus has required. He has required that we love one another.
  2. Honour – We must not define someone by their sin, but by their relationship with the Father. Our wonderful Creator has given this person many gifts and talents. He has put a calling on their life and a unique personality and skill set to fulfill that calling. Bring out the best in them. Call out their good qualities and help them to see that they can overcome sin in their life. Don’t ignore the sin, but don’t let it cloud the vision of who they are. Our Father is able to redeem ANY situation.
  3. Invitation – Invite them to walk this journey with the church. We are called to build each other up and encourage each other. We are supposed to do life together – the good and the bad. Help them to find a mentor or accountability partner that will continue to reach out to them with the loving arms of the Father.

The Masquerade

I recently watched the previous video and I was struck by the truth behind it. We constantly wear masks – not of paper & feathers – but of achievements, success, and a plastered smile that says, “I’m doing just fine.” We strut around like we’re at some grand masquerade party. We admire each other’s costumes but hide our true selves. What would it take for us to be real with one another? What

would happen if a pastor/leader/parent admitted that they were struggling? That they didn’t have it all together? That they sinned!? (gasp) I think our generation is STARVING for genuine authenticity. We want to be known and accepted as ourselves. Because of this deep desire for love and acceptance we are TERRIFIED of rejection. We cling to these personas of what people are expecting or what they want to hear instead of being honest with where we really stand. Well, I have two challenges for you as the individual and for the church at large.

1) BE BRAVE & BE YOURSELF

I guarantee you that if you start being really open & honest you’re going to encounter some awkward moments, but don’t let that hold you back! I once heard the saying, “embrace the awkward until it becomes anointed.” Push past the uncomfortable moments and refuse to hide your junk behind closed doors. Be the first person to admit to sin & failure. Take that scary move of calling a friend and saying, “Hey, I need help” or “I need prayer.” When we hide behind our masks of perfection we isolate ourselves and believe the lie that we’re no good and we’re alone in this. Another guarantee I have is that if you start sharing your struggles and sins you will meet people who are dealing with the same stuff and you’ll quickly realize that we all have junk.

Some other people who have recognized this are the people at Power to Change. They have launched a website: www.issuesiface.com. They’re attempting to create a space where people can connect with mentors and counsellors and realize that they are not alone! It’s a pretty cool idea, and oh yeah, my husband works for them and he’s pretty rad, so you guys should all check it out.

2) CHANGE THE WAY WE LOOK AT SIN

I wish I could say that this “mask problem” only pertained to “the world” and that there was peace and harmony within the church. Unfortunately, the church is not immune to these veils of pretence and disguise. We smile warmly on Sunday and act like we have it together. We hear testimonies about how people have overcome, but what about when you’re smack dab in the middle of sin? Pain? Struggle? There are those rare churches who embrace authenticity and I am blessed to say that I attend one of those gems. One of our pastors regularly says things like, “Let’s get messy” or “If you have to come to church in your bathrobe because you’re too depressed to get dressed then that’s what you do.” We have another pastor who bravely shared with the entire church his story of working through a pornography addiction. These are the kind of leaders I respect and want to follow after, but even so, we as a church must take on an entirely new attitude towards sin – Reject shame. Reject the idea that you’re in this alone. Even reject the idea that sin must be punished! Jesus took the punishment remember?!

I’m currently reading a book titled Culture of Honour. I’m not very far into it yet, but so far I like what I’m reading. He uses the example of a young couple who gets pregnant outside of wedlock. They came into the pastor’s office expecting to be rebuked for their sin and punished for their actions. Instead, they were met with love, grace, and a series of questions that emphasized their value. Being reminded of their value allowed the Spirit to lead them to repentance, instead of pushing an agenda of shame which robs people of their identity and their worth. I could talk forever on this topic, so I think I’ll save the rest of my thoughts for a separate post, but my point is this: If we knew that our struggles and mistakes would be met with grace and love we would be a lot more willing to open up and deal with deep-rooted issues instead of struggling day-in and day-out with the surface area symptoms.

So, all that to say:

I’m Danielle. I’m 24 years old and I don’t have it all together. I make mistakes; I struggle; I get insecure; I sin all the time; and I’m just like you.