Still Offended By Goodness

“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:13-15

There is a predictably one-sided and hysterical article that came out at HuffPo bemoaning the fact that Chick-Fil-A is still continuing in their “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior” by donating vast amounts of money to hate groups. Genuine shock and outrage that they did not receive the previous memo to abandon their beliefs has ensued. I’m not going to link to it this time, it’s too ridiculous and it’s easy to look up. The ‘hate groups’ that are referred to by the way are Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army, so there’s that. Without heading down a huge rabbit hole (or shall I say chicken), I want to use this as a little jumping off point to talk about this marvelous paragraph in 1 Peter about how we believers are to deal with the haters.

It’s a story as old as humanity itself, Peter is addressing his letter to Christians who are suffering persecution and rejection because of their obedience to Christ. Their contemporaries are shocked and a little insulted that these folks don’t still choose to run with them in the same sinful circles (4:4) as they once did. Peter urges patience and humility in the face of unjust persecution.

So he begins by asking the question, “who is going to harm you for being a follower of what is good?” The answer is clearly those who aren’t following what is good. Misery loves company… sin loves company… and when you choose not to walk in it or celebrate it, you become a natural target. The Chick- Fil -A debacle was a manufactured outrage from the beginning, a lose-lose battle for anyone holding Christian beliefs. As painful as it is, being a follower of what is good automatically makes you a target.

Peter goes on to say that even when we suffer for what is right, we will be blessed. The enemy will do everything in his power to get us to jump ship or join forces with the other side. The media is in an all out war against a chicken restaurant for heavens sakes, the likes of which you simply do not see with any other company. God says be blessed in the midst of it. Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays and still does better than McDonalds and Starbucks franchises combined. Obviously, something is working. We think we need to do things the world’s way to keep up and it just isn’t true. Honor God, honor His ways, and be blessed by being different.

The last few sentences Peter writes are powerful. “Be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” Now honestly, how often is this happening? Do people see a hope in us that makes them genuinely want what we have? Or are we too busy fortifying our own little walls to keep everyone out? Peter is telling us we need to be shining examples of HOPE in a world gone totally bonkers. How do we do that? “With meekness and fear…” Meekness and humility are almost entirely extinct traits in our society. What if we could be settled in our beliefs, but still humble enough to want to share them with others? What if we could stand our ground against this anti-Biblical agenda that wants to erase truth, but do it in a way that our conscience is clear before God? That’s the ‘fear’ part right there…we have to fear God more than men. Chick-Fil-A, as a company, is doing exactly what we all need to be doing on a personal level.

“They think it strange that you do not run with them…” (4:4)

Let them. We have to be ok with this. Biblical love is sharing the hope and truth that is in us with others. It is not nodding and agreeing with sin so that people will like us. Peter and the early church faced persecution and so will we, and friends, Chick-Fil-A is the tip of the iceberg. I use it as an encouraging example to be true to God, serve Him, serve others, and let the haters dig their own proverbial graves.

Whats that silly internet meme? “Ain’t nobody got time for this?” That’s the truth.

Are people mad that you still haven’t caved to their demands that you embrace the world? It’s ok.

Are folks offended that you continue to believe what Jesus said even though their own modern-day analysis says you are a fool? Super.

We need not be afraid of suffering for what is right. Not ever.

Draw people with the hope that is in you, and do it with meekness and fear. The gospel has a beautiful way of proving itself true time and time again.

Children of (Dis)obedience

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4

I read the story of the Tower of Babel and I can’t help but wonder “who amongst these people thought this would be a good idea?!” Just a few generations down from the great flood in which humanity was essentially wiped out and given a new start, here they are again, eyeball deep in idolatry, rejecting God, and building their castles in the sky.

Verse 5 is a little cheeky sounding to me, it says that God had to “come down” to see what they were up to. Even man’s biggest tower was still an anthill to Him.

There are worse things than wanting to make a name for yourself and not be scattered all over the earth, aren’t there? Possibly. However, these folks, the descendants of Noah, were given a very specific command: Go and fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). They were doing the opposite of what they were told to do.

And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. v.6-8

God knows, better than we know ourselves, what we are capable of when left to our own devices. This was just the beginning. Interesting that the flood did not and could not wipe out the stain of Adam’s sins. Humanity continues in it’s pride and desire to be it’s own boss.

The disease of sin has been passed down to us, it’s in our very genes. Ephesians 2:2 says we are born “the children of disobedience.” Instead of filling the earth with the Good News, we are busy building our own little kingdoms. Jesus came to undo what the first Adam had done. He came to break the sin-curse that plagues us and root it out once and for all. Have you ever pulled a giant weed up by the roots? It’s remarkably satisfying. If you get it at the roots, it’s not coming back. Too often, we pull and tug at what we can see of our sin but fail to deal with things at the root. Trimming a weed to make it look better doesn’t get rid of the weed problem. Jesus restores us to our original place in the story… free from the curse and free to live a life of obedience to God.

We don’t always respond to the word obedience with open, welcoming arms.

Ever tried to correct a teenager? “I’m doing the best I can! I’m not perfect!”

Ever been comfy enough with sin that you really just don’t even want to give it up? “Don’t be so legalistic! Jesus came to free us from the law! We aren’t supposed to be earning our salvation!”

If talking about living in obedience makes you feel more condemned than free… if it brings up more excuses than solutions… well, you’re not alone. We mess up, then give up, making all kinds of excuses as we go. This isn’t God’s plan at all, thankfully. Salvation isn’t earned, it’s worked out (Philippians 2:12). Our obedience, our love toward others, it’s just the evidence of a real faith working inside us.

How confident are we in Jesus? Do we go all-in with Him regardless of what people will think? In spite of our discomfort? Or do we obey when it’s convenient and take to building our own little cities when we think we can do it better? It’s so easy to start piling up our bricks isn’t it? They keep us sheltered and together. But God isn’t all that concerned with ‘safe and in place’.

James tells us pointedly that faith without works is dead… our obedience (or disobedience) is a natural outflow of our faith. We aren’t meant to struggle along like beggars, we actually get to go “from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7). He gives us strength to obey, a desire to obey, and a heart to obey. One strong choice leads to another, and before you know it, obedience is more natural than disobedience. Our default becomes not what our flesh wants, but what God wants. Not always the easiest choice, but for sure the best choice.

God wants us to honor Him by putting Him first. I don’t think we are created to handle “big” very well. Making a name for ourselves shouldn’t be on our to-do list. Making His name known should.


To Lent… Or Not To Lent?

The supermarket Peeps are out. This can only mean one thing: on to the next religious/commercial season!

In about a week, Catholics and some Christians will observe Ash Wednesday and begin the season of Lent, a time of remembering the wilderness journey of Jesus and His ultimate sacrifice for us. Much like Advent, Lent is a season of preparation and waiting.

So begins the annual debate amongst Protestants and evangelicals, “to Lent… or not to Lent?” We have a funny relationship with this season… trying to strike a proper balance between the secular and the holy is no small task. Some will go out of their way to not celebrate Lent, calling it a return to the ritualistic stuff the Reformation did away with. “Fish on Fridays!” was a strict observance of my Presbyterian church when I was a kid. Did you know McDonalds’ Filet-O-Fish sandwiches were created to keep Catholic customers happy during Lent? And that the entire Swiss Reformation was kicked off by a couple of priests who decided they wanted some delicious sausages on a Friday during Lent? It was actually called the “Affair of The Sausages” and it’s as entertaining as it sounds.

I came across two images about Lent that sum up this whole debate: The first, a Catholic priest telling us that the purpose of life ain’t about being happy kids… but the purpose of life is to attain perfect life. Or something. I’m not sure actually. In the comments section this guy actually told a new convert to try their “Holy40” program because if you start off too severe at the beginning, you may not make it. The ‘Holy40’ has a nice ring to it I suppose, sounds a bit like the Christian version of chart-topping hits. Regardless, this guy isn’t messing around. You must ‘develop’ a good Lent he says… behave yourself… use the program if you know what’s good for you.

The next picture is one of a lovely affirmation done in the oh so popular new marker script that has taken over our Instagram feeds. This sweet girl promises us that free Lenten printable are coming soon to her shop… (!!!) but that she is actually dreading the approach of the season. She goes on to give a tortured but honest explanation of how if we just ‘do the work’ we too can be transformed by the glory of Easter.


So enters all kinds of confusion about fasting, rituals, personal choice, and spiritual growth. Fat Tuesday binge drinking is followed by somber Ash Wednesday piety. We bask in the work of the cross but work our tails off to feel worthy of it. It is all very odd. Something I’ve noticed about this season, especially in the more evangelical circles, is our affinity for the “40 Day” cycle. Much like Advent in December where we count down the days to the arrival, the “40 day road to Easter” gives us a chance to reflect, wait and hopefully draw nearer to Jesus.

Here’s the hook: 40 days has huge Biblical significance and can be a meaningful time for us. It can also be just another checklist exercise in futility. Here are just a few real-life book examples of the 40-day obsession that got me wondering if maybe we’ve gone off the rails just a little bit:

40 Days to a More Generous Life, 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, 40 Days of Decrease, 40 Days of Biblical Declarations, 40 Days to Lasting Change, 40 Day Soul Fast, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, and my favorite, 40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood… sign me up for that one.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s offered to us. Some of these books or studies can be beneficial, some I know are not. We just love hitching our wagons to anything with a scheduled outcome though, don’t we?

I think we can all benefit from heartfelt reflection as we lead up to Easter. I personally am not giving up any coffee or wine, but I am picking up God’s Word. I like to focus on the Gospels, the story as it is told to us, Jesus as He is represented, as He IS. We have an old book of paintings that tells story of the Passion of Christ, it’s simple, but there’s nothing boring about it. It has the Bible verses at the bottom of each page. It doesn’t offer any new strategies or foolproof charts, it just tells the greatest story ever told. Charts and strategies comfort us, but time will prove they are a trap. Even the most spirit-filled, Biblically sound Jesus-lover has to watch out, for it sneaks through the back door of our minds and before we realize, we are trying to formulate ourselves out of our problems. It’s the gospel of self-sufficiency, self-reliance and just all -around self. It’s why these books sell so well. There must be some little trick, if we can just figure out the key, we’ll have it all figured out. By our selves.

Contrary to popular thought, we actually are called to humble ourselves and take up our cross daily (Matthew 16:24). Notice the word “daily”. Not just during Lent or Advent. I think most of us could spend 40 days just on that idea alone. We sacrifice daily. We crucify our flesh daily. We humble ourselves daily. The last thing any of us need is something to make us feel more inferior. Things may go awry during your 40 days of this or that… it’s ok. It’s not about finding perfection, it’s about finding Jesus, and ourselves within Him.

The point of this coming season is that Jesus took our place and gave us life from death. Ash Wednesday gives way to Resurrection Sunday. I agree with the old Reformers that we don’t need a calendar or holiday to begin or end anything with Jesus, He’s ever-present and doesn’t change. We don’t have seasons of obedience or sacrifice, any more than we have seasons of gluttony or sin. We have our daily bread, our uninterrupted abiding and communion with Jesus.

I do love this time of year and the chance to pause and reflect. I don’t mind Lent as long as it leads away from myself and towards God. But we mourn no longer. We are no longer slaves to sin or self. Ask Him what He would have for you during this time. Let Him decide what your 40 days will look like and I guarantee it’ll be better than any study book you could every buy.

What do you do (or not do) for this season?

The Beauty of Smallness

“If you must choose between Bible and breakfast, choose Bible, and grab an energy bar. Then plan better. Man shall not live by bread alone.” John Piper

This really made me chuckle, but if you know anything about John Piper, he is not kidding about that breakfast bar. He wrote an entire book about not wasting your life. Perhaps this is a perspective that comes with age and hindsight, but I find myself resonating quite a bit with what he’s saying. Don’t be wasteful with your time, your talents or your calling. That old saying ‘the days are long but the years are short’ is so very true.

We inhabit a big, loud world where the only way to get any attention is to be big and loud. We are supposed to hustle and be fierce and do hard things, at least that’s what all the coffee cups tell me. Honestly, I don’t wake up feeling fierce or fearless or any of those things. Most days, I just wake up… tired. The last person I need more of is myself, so when I scroll my phone and read things like “I am my own healer, protector, muse… what I have to offer is limitless”, I feel a little nauseated. Sometimes I literally can’t remember what day it is, so to be my own muse or healer is a bit much. All this inward focus, this incessant need to be bigger than we actually are, it’s sucking the very life right out of us. Have you noticed it lately? When everyone is big, no one is. It’s like the crazy awards shows on TV… there are so many now that no one pays attention to any of them. Everyone is so busy congratulating themselves, no one is impressed but them. I can say the same for the selfie phenomenon… the longer you spend editing that picture, the less impressed I am. It’s off-putting when others do it, but still our flesh pushes us to keep sticking our big faces out there for recognition. It’s fascinating really. How do we navigate this trap? Is being small the same as being insignificant? Piper puts it this way:

“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments were are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”

I’d like to stand at the Grand Canyon and feel small. I would not like to be the self-obsessed tourist trying to get that perfect filtered shot of myself overlooking the biggest hole on earth. Does anyone remember traveling before the invention of the smart phone and selfie stick? You could just be present in the moment and not worry about how you were going to share this moment with the entire free world. I cried the first time I sat in Notre Dame Cathedral because I felt so small. I was in total awe of the men who built such a place and the God they served. Even staring out the window of an airplane is enough to put things into perspective.

The self-focus thing is such a tiresome, dead-end road. One of the things I’ve realized with my own family is how much better we function when we get out of our own selfish little patterns and go join in something bigger than we are. Some days that means just getting up and going to church. We really do have to be reminded these days that there is an actual world outside our door with actual (not virtual) people who may need us. Irony of ironies, the more we bask in our own little world trying to make ourselves big, the smaller and more insignificant we become.

I saw this list while looking up Piper’s book, and though it reads a bit harsh at first, I think it is spot on.

What do all these things have in common? Choosing to place self over Jesus. Making myself big while I shrink Him down to nothing. It’s that simple. So the original question maybe is more serious than I thought: do I sacrifice anything at all to just be with Jesus? Would I settle for the silly breakfast bar if it meant settling my heart for the day? I’d like to think I would, but some days I’m not so sure, because, well #6 on that list…

So, help us Jesus, to run the race set before us, to bear our cross daily, to humble ourselves and be made small so that You have room to do big things. Help us to maybe leave the selfie stick at home and go feel small in a big world.

Dismal Forebodings

One of my favorite books as a teen was the classic Christian allegory Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It’s the story of a little girl named Much-Afraid, who lives in the Valley of Humiliation with her family The Fearings… they plague her existence with their negativity. The aunt who raised her is called Mrs. Dismal Forebodings, a fearful old soul afraid of her own shadow. The poor old woman could hardly stand to go outside or open a window for fear of what calamity may befall her. One day the Shepherd comes to invite Much-Afraid on a pilgrimage to the High Places where He promises her a new life and identity. She is frightened at the idea but longs to leave the Valley and go with Him. Her family is no help. Everyone in the old Fearings clan is so wrapped up in their own bondage, they try to keep poor Much-Afraid locked up with them. When the Shepherd passes by the cottage  with his sheep, He gently calls to her to come along. Her cousin Coward covers her mouth so she cannot respond. They all begin babbling negative thoughts so she cannot hear the Shepherds voice. She feels an “incoherent fear” come over her and is so confused, she can’t even move. The valley-dwellers love company and will do almost anything to keep someone from leaving for the mountains.

Dismal Forebodings… the inexplicable feeling that the bottom is about to drop out. The nagging fear when you wake up in the middle of the night and everything seems dreadful. Little things are big, big things are paralyzing. Have you ever just longed for it to be morning? Not because the sunrise brings a solution, but because things just aren’t as bad in the light of day. You can combat things more easily, move around, get some perspective. The night is just dark and quiet. We spend our days soaking up fear like sponges, it’s no wonder we can’t sleep at night.

Bible addresses fear a lot. Everyone from Abraham down to the disciples is given some kind of ‘fear not’ along their journey:

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ Genesis 15:1

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Joshua 8:1

“Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” Mark 6:50

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” Isaiah 41:10

In addition to the ‘fear nots’ the Bible tells us not to worry, despair, or be anxious. As long as we humans walk the earth, there will be no shortage of things to fret about.

So we have pills advertised non-stop on our televisions and calming apps on our phones. If the first pill didn’t work, there’s an add-on pill, surely that will help. The app tells us to be ‘mindful’ of what triggers us. Map it out. Rate it on a scale from 1-10. Control it, and maybe it won’t control you. It’s a sidestepping game, like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

When Much-Afraid finally leaves the Valley with the Shepherd, He tells her they are climbing up to the High Places. The journey will make her whole and most importantly, she will get to know Him better – but they must climb together. She will not be able to go around the mountains, that would be useless. There can be no gazing up at their beauty from the valley. What she needs is up on the steep slopes, and she is going to have to climb up to get to it.

It can be a hard climb up and out of fear. I thought that as my kids grew older, I would get better at it, but the fears just rearrange themselves into newer, more distressing forms. It’s not going away with a pill or an app… only the light can dissipate the darkness.

“The Shepherd laughed too. “I love doing preposterous things,” he replied. “Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection. If there is one thing  which I should enjoy doing at this moment it is turning a jellyfish into a mountain goat. That is my special work,” he added with the light of a great joy in his face. “Transforming things —to take Much-Afraid, for instance, and to transform her into—“ He broke off and then went on laughingly. “Well, we shall see later on what she finds herself transformed into.”

May we be changed. May we go with the Shepherd up to the High Places and see who we really are. Floppy jellyfish can become mountain climbers when they put themselves under His care. It’s Jesus’ special work to transform us and what an honor it is to leave the valley and go climbing with Him!

 

Human Altars, Life Mottos, and Beth Moore

“At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.” (Judges 21:25) 

This is the last verse in the book of Judges. I read it and turned the page to see what came next, but that’s it: there was no king and the people just did whatever they wanted. Throughout the book, we see how Israel has devolved into moral and religious corruption. God continues to draw them with His mercy, and they continue to reject Him. Over and over, it plays like a broken record.

The tribes were given specific directions, but chose to do their own thing. What is interesting is that in the absence of leadership or relationship with God, they formed their own little idols to worship. It’s the human condition to worship something… they just chose the fake over the real. There is a depravity happening on an individual level and on a wider cultural level, it permeated everything they did and it had awful consequences. They were in a kind of moral free fall, and interestingly enough the book ends there. The people just did their own thing.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with a culture that claims to embrace logic and science, but in reality lives solely by feelings. The radical feminists’ entire agenda relies on the necessity of a fixed gender. The transgender phenomenon relies on the exact opposite argument. What is happening? The blatant dishonesty and willful ignorance involved is mind-numbing. Want to murder your baby just before it’s born? No problem, it’s not really a baby anyway and it’s your right. But please love all and accept everyone. Your six year old boy feels like a girl? Great! Follow that path and do whatever you like, nothing is real until you say so. Unless you need it to be. Wait… now I’m confused again. 

I listened to a podcast yesterday that pointed out some interesting consequences to this kind of direction-less thinking. The sexual revolution of years ago delivered some unexpected results. Decades later we have fatherless kids, rampant abortion, shattered families, pervasive pornography, and a #MeToo movement that acts genuinely surprised that we are in this mess. Who has been liberated in all this? Nobody. In trying to free ourselves of all constraints, we have become complete slaves to an ideology that can change with the weather. 

We cannot just keep clinging to self and expect things to work out. Lisa Whittle, in her book Put Your Warrior Boots On, says one of my favorite things ever: 

“This is why getting right before God is so vitally important. This is why the search in the bottom of a bottle must end. This is why no more playing around with sex. This is why our marriages need to get right. This is why we have to stop playing church. This is why we can’t just do whatever we want. This is why we need to be committed to holy living, at all costs – because sin kills the fight out of us and we need all the fight we can get. Standing is dozens of different moments of yes to God and no to self. We can’t expect to stand for God without practicing. Otherwise, when the time comes, we won’t know what to do.” 

We can choose to be the captain of our own ship, but it’ll be more like a rowboat in a typhoon. Rudderless and entirely at the mercy of the changing waves. We need a captain. We need Jesus at the helm. The wisdom of the world is coming in direct conflict with the wisdom of God, now more than ever. God has made foolish the wisdom of the world (I Corinthians 1:20). When you go against the true nature of God, you are faced with two choices: continue in folly or surrender to the truth. The vast majority of our world chooses to continue on believing and promoting things that are false. What is our role here? Bury our heads in the sand? Argue our point until we are exhausted and even more frustrated? Meh.

We are to joyfully embrace the truth. We are to love our neighbor. One of my mottos in life is “speak the truth in love.” It’s so important. Both sides are important, both are necessary. Humorously, I saw this on Twitter yesterday: 

 

Dang, Beth… did you look me up? Because I actually DO have this in my Twitter bio. I get what she’s saying… don’t whack someone over the head with your big fat truth if it’s going to shred them. But this is Biblical and we cannot and must not discount it just because it isn’t fancy or soothing enough for your feelings. Don’t ever say “no, no no” to anything in God’s Word. Say “yes, yes, yes” even when it makes you uncomfortable. I’ll save this for another day, but enough with people telling us how and what to glean from God’s Word. No more human altars. 

We need a compass. We need absolutes. Jesus is the only sure thing that keeps us from drifting about in a sea of our own mess. The idol of self is getting bigger every day and we must look away from it if we are to stay afloat in this crazy world. 

Screen Reports and Endless Distractions

Does anyone else receive a weekly binging alert on your phone telling you to how much screen time you’ve averaged the past seven days? What an interesting little development this has been for our family. Humorously and without fail, our entire family receives their stats every week as we drive to church. It becomes of course, a competition for bragging rights and/or a totally mortifying moment of shame depending on how much screen time one has accumulated the past week. If your average time has gone down, you obviously brag about it. If you spent too much time on your phone, you sit quietly hoping no one will inquire into your weekly numbers. Its great fun, especially as we prepare our hearts for worship and a sermon. (Insert eye-roll here.)

We like to emphasize just how darned busy we are working, going to school, keeping our proverbial ships afloat… and we are without a doubt a culture that doesn’t value slowing down. I noticed something this week that kind of agitated me: even when we aren’t necessarily busy, we are ridiculously distracted.

When we are home together, we often aren’t really ‘together’ at all. Everyone has their little ‘default’ setting that they go to, and it’s increasingly to a screen. It’s understandable, after long days at school and work, we need our down time. It’s funny how we we unplug by remaining totally plugged-in. Our handy-dandy weekly screen time reports tell just where and how we are spending our time, whether it’s social media, games or YouTube.

Maybe we aren’t as busy as we’d like to think… maybe we are just increasingly distracted.

Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” 

In a world of perpetual chaos and distraction, getting quiet goes against all our instincts. Quiet is kind of weird. It’s definitely uncomfortable. As a little kid, I was made to take afternoon quiet times in my room with just myself and one book of my choice. No shenanigans like practicing headstands or playing school with my dolls (these were my vices, lol) were allowed. Just a time to calm down and chill out.

We don’t believe that quiet brings us much benefit anymore, much less any actual strength. God tells us differently. Our strength isn’t in our busyness or our accomplishments, it comes when we shut out the noises and go to be with God.

Like little addicts, we get kind of twitchy when we are out of arms reach of a screen. We see the connection it brings as a real path to fulfillment, otherwise we wouldn’t covet it the way we do.

“In returning and rest… in quietness and confidence…”

Like those fantastic noise-cancelling headphones people wear on airplanes, we need to tune out much of what we are listening to and tune in to God’s voice.

Well-meaning friends. The news. Co-workers. Twitter. Facebook. Your own head.

I stuck a little verse up on our fridge in a not-so-subtle attempt to remind everyone (especially myself) of this fact –

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.” Psalm 119:37

It’s ok to be busy and it’s ok to crave a little distraction. We just need to remember to present ourselves to God on a daily basis so that His voice remains the loudest one in our head.