Christmas: An Annual Reminder that Jesus Doesn’t Cancel Us

group of people standing on snowy field

Our culture has become quite confident in its ability to determine who should get a second chance and who should not.  How dare they, right? The “cancel culture” nonsense has really gotten out of hand. Maybe. But what if you and I are just as guilty of trying to be an arbiter of who is right and who is wrong? Even as Christ-followers, we find time and time again that we too desire to take on this role of God. We want to be in control. We want to be The Judge. In fact, if we’re honest, we believe we are a GOOD Judge. I cannot deny that deep down, a sinful part of me believes I am the best arbiter not only of what is best for me, but of what is best for other people I love, and even for the whole of society.  Since we love to […]

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Body Image and the Gospel

woman putting makeup in front of mirror

You’ll never be thin enough. She’s definitely prettier than you. Is that the best outfit you could put together? For many years, sentiments like these were my natural reaction to seeing myself in a mirror. I have wrestled with my body image on and off since adolescence. Prior to following Jesus, I cared so much about my appearance I willingly nurtured harmful habits to become “beautiful”. I was bulimic, worked out too much, ate too little, followed trendy diets, spent countless hours on beauty tutorials, wore lots of gaudy makeup, and even went so far as to steal when I wanted the coolest clothing brands I couldn’t afford.  When I began following Jesus in my late teen years, I assumed my body image struggles would disappear. After all, a Christian knows that God doesn’t care about outward appearances, so I shouldn’t care about them either, right? Wrong. I continued to […]

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Fully forgiven, lavishly loved

woman hands up in front of green meadows

Forgiveness seems like such an elementary principle. If you hurt someone, say “I’m sorry”, they forgive you, and everyone goes about their day, right? Even my 18-month-old understands the most basic form of asking for forgiveness when he gives a hug and a kiss after he hurts his sister. Although he can say “I’m sorry” in an infantile way, he most likely does not feel bad for his actions or understand the pain of the other person. He’s just going through the motions. And though I like to think of myself as more mature than this chalk-eating baby, if I’m being honest, I have acted the same for most of my life. I have gone through the motions of saying “I’m sorry” without truly evaluating my wrongdoing (my sin), seeking forgiveness, and turning away from that sin.  In 2010, as a sophomore in college, I gave my life to Christ […]

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What lies have you been believing this week?

two sitting and one man standing near cliff taken during golden hour

At the time, I felt so confident, but now I feel like I missed my chance. Why on earth did I do that? That was so dumb…What am I going to do now? Recently, I found my mind spiraling towards anxious thoughts and regret about a lost opportunity. Feeling discouraged, I told my husband, looking for him to encourage me but instead he just listened and then went on with whatever he was doing at the time. All I wanted was for him to affirm me and the decisions that I had made, to tell me that everything would work out, to speak truth and life to me. Unfortunately, not even pastor husbands can read your mind and give you exactly what you want, when you want it, without having to say it.  By this time, I had been dwelling on these thoughts for most of the day. After my […]

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Add to your Faith: Perseverance

man on mountain with snow

When was the last time you persevered through something difficult? Or perhaps persevered through temptation? Last week, a few months ago, a year ago? I like Webster’s definition of perseverance – “The quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult.” The exhortation to persevere through sin is something that has popped up for me recently reading through scripture and other readings.  Jesus told his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane to stay awake with Him as He was seeking and praying to God the Father about the cup he was to bear (His death). Jesus informed Peter, James, and John, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.“ (Matthew 26:41, NKJV) I can rest assured according to God’s true and rich Word that my spirit is willing to obey! In 2 Peter 1:3, we are informed that “His [the Lord’s] divine […]

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Idol of Beauty

“He’s not attractive enough for me to want to date him.” “I hope my kids will be cute.” “Her face isn’t very pretty.” “I don’t feel like watching that show/movie because the actors are not appealing to me.“ “I want guys to think I am pretty.” I am baring my sin once again. And once again, how embarrassing it is. These are true thoughts I am ashamed to admit have run through my head. I realized not too long ago, I have an idol of beauty. Too often than not, many decisions I make and the actions I take are based on my perceptions of beauty especially in regards to matchmaking, progeny and how the opposite gender views me. I want a cute husband, cute kids, and to be cute myself! I believe as a culture, we value beauty too much. When it comes down to it, some of us […]

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Willful Sins

“Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.” Psalm 19:13 NIV This verse is one I am adding to my list of personal prayers! It is not one I have heard often. What does doing something willfully mean to you? I do not often think to myself, “I am about to sin and I will sin anyway.” Many times, my desire to sin and me acting on the sin comes in one punch.  I don’t usually think through my sin rationally before I sin. A verse in James tells us there is a succession of events in sinning.   “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:15 NIV This verse tells us there is a process that happens prior to sinning and a process after sinning.  Do you set aside intentional time […]

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The Burden of Bitterness

My first stars in your eyes, goosebumps on your skin, giddy for days, butterflies in your stomach crush occurred when I was 18 years old. He liked me, and I liked him, and that simple truth lifted my emotions to a level of euphoria that I had not known before. But this story isn’t about that. It’s  not even about the heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, feel-like-I’m-going-to-vomit moment when he told me he had fallen in love with someone else. This story begins with how I treated the woman he loved, whom we both worked with. It’s been 11 years, and I still think about the way I treated her, and I feel horrified at myself, ashamed, and compelled to ask for her forgiveness. Essentially, I held a grudge against her for stealing my crush. That grudge lasted about 4 years — the entire time I worked with her. I can safely say […]

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When sin and death seem victorious

After my daughters saw The Beauty and the Beast for the first time, they watched it on repeat over and over again, as is typical of a four- and two-year-old. Every time they watched it, they were absolutely terrified of the Beast. I reminded them that they knew the end of the story so they didn’t have to be scared, not realizing until the words were out of my mouth that I was sharing with them a spiritual truth. As believers in Christ, even when it looks like evil is winning, we don’t have to fear. We know the end of the story. This Easter, as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we will likely read verses like 1 Corinthians 15:54b-55: “‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” We will sing songs about sin and death being defeated, declaring […]

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