Let's don't be like Jonah.

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Jonah 4:1-4 NIV But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Oh man, if I only had room to insert all of the book of Jonah right here, I would. But you know what? You’ve totally got time to go read the whole thing. It’ll take you about 12 minutes so I’m going to encourage you to go do that. Read The Message version if Bible language trips you up, just promise me you’ll read it—even if you’ve heard the story a million times already and know all the Jonah elementary school Bible songs. Are there songs about Jonah? There should be. What a goofy guy. Go read the whole thing and I’ll meet you back here. 

His story is basically that He is entrusted with this really beautiful message of repentance and grace. He’s supposed to go tell the people of Nineveh: God is Holy, you’re far from Him, repent or He’s going to work out some justice in your life. Beautiful. Hard truth, but beautiful. 

Instead of grace from the get-go, or burden for the people, instead of applying the message to his own heart, he immediately decides what God should hate and that’s the people of Nineveh. Instead of aiding in the relief of their sin, he becomes complicit in it, and chooses pride (one of the things God hates) and runs from the Lord. 

Jonah never steps foot inside his own circle of holiness, he is only continually peering out at everyone else and judging what should be happening to them and I think it’s incredibly important to see what he ends up missing out on. Does God still use Him? Yes. Does He still have a relationship with God? Yes. Do the people still hear truth and turn to the Lord? Yes. Does God still do His thing and stay consistent with His character and love people? Yes. Including Jonah? Yes. 

So what does Jonah miss out on by focusing on the sin of others and never letting the eyes of his heart be opened to see his own issues? He misses out on joy. He doesn’t get to experience the anticipation of a person running on mission, feeling the hope tinged all around the burden, the light just begging to break through. Even after God rescues him from the fish, he doesn’t stop to count the fruit and dance all around about his life being spared. When the miraculous eternal work of restoration and redemption happens in Nineveh, who should be the one with his hands held highest in the air? Whose heart should feel the lightest and the most full of praise? Who misses out on the most joy? Jonah. 

When the miraculous eternal work of restoration and redemption happens in Nineveh, who should be the one with his hands held highest in the air? Whose heart should feel the lightest and the most full of praise? Who misses out on the most joy? Jonah. 

In this conversation we're having about grace and truth - we can be the people wanting grace for all, or we can be the ones withholding it. Let's decide today: not to be like Jonah. 

At the end of this story, we can be sitting alone and frustrated that God did what He said He would do, or we can be straight up celebrating and dancing with the rest of our people - thrilled that we got to be a part of it. 

You can read about this idea and more in Dance Stand Run. Preorder today, get some fun gifts, and join a movement of women determined to dance in grace, stand our holy ground, and run on mission. 

Get to, not have to.

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I’m not sure where you’re at with Jesus right now. I’m not sure if you’ve been in a relationship with Him for a long time - praying and pounding the pavement of faith for decades. Maybe you’re new to the ideas of spirituality or even the gospel. Maybe you landed on this post and don’t feel any feelings about God. If so - I’m so glad you’re here. Keep reading!

I guess where I’m getting at is this: before I actually met Jesus, and even in the years just after I started really stepping into a relationship with Him - I got a really strange taste in my mouth for what it meant to be a Christian. I became a follower of Jesus in high school, when it seemed that the main motivation for getting teenagers in church was to get them OUT of bad places they shouldn’t be. There were talks about staying on the straight and narrow, about making wise decisions and living a more pure life than the heathens around me. (FYI - I was the heatheniest of the heathens)

In other seasons, my walk with God was still largely based on what I shouldn't do or what I was supposed to do. Anyone else feel me? I heard that I SHOULD study the Bible so I could understand deep theological ideas and have a better awareness of the complexity of God. I heard that I was SUPPOSED TO serve, because it was my duty as a believer. I was SUPPOSED to pray, because it was good for me and other people needed my prayers.

These of course, weren’t the only messages I heard - but they were predominate ones.

Now, as a woman who has been walking with God for 18 years I'm a few years into realizing - none of those are things I should do. They're things I GET to do. They're not like lima beans that I should eat because they're healthy (are lima beans even healthy still?). They're rhythms, routines, and practices that have been purchased for me by the power of the cross - ones I can step into and experience heaven here on earth. 

I guess what I’d like to propose in this blog post is that we hold for a second the notion that maybe God wants us to shift our perspective and start to see this life in Christ as the things we GET to do, rather than the things we are supposed to be doing or a list of things we should avoid. I'd like to cut to the chase and say: I think holiness is less about abstaining from bad stuff and checking off a list. I think it's more about stepping into the abundant reality of things we GET TO DO. 

I’d like to cut to the chase and say: I think holiness is less about abstaining from bad stuff and checking off a list. I think it’s more about stepping into the abundant reality of things we GET TO DO. 

From what I read in scripture, I find that He came for us and made a way - at just the right time, when we were still sinners. He wasn’t expecting us to perform, He wasn’t redeeming us so that we’d be His trophies of excellence - but rather He was initiating a relationship wherein we would continually need Him, and continually be extended His identity since we aren’t much on our own.

He never points to us as being a mindless army, instead He calls us his friends. His ambassadors. His coheirs and co-laborers in ministry.

So here we are, sitting on the most eternally-stunning invitation to step into a beautiful relationship with Jesus that is all about Him giving us what we need and yet... we’re functioning under a fabricated weight of man-made expectations: the shoulds and supposed responsibilities that He never named.

Dance Stand Run is all about learning that this is the life we GET TO lead, rather than feeling the burden of what we HAVE TO do. I think this message could free so many women up: giving them a taste of Jesus that is not only appealing, but soul-satisfying. The book comes out on October 24th - want to join us as we dance in grace, stand our holy ground, and run on mission? You sure don’t have to. But you might find that you get to and that’s a whole more simple. 

Girl, get back in your circle.

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Do you see them? The opposing sides with their defenses up? The steely eyed glances passed back and forth amongst those in the body of Christ - as we're waiting, watching, for one another to make a false move. 

It doesn't happen everywhere or all the time. But it's hard to imagine that every community is completely void of the cautious look-around. There are exceptions to the rule, for sure. But it does seem like there are large amounts of people really working hard to draw battle lines, to determine who is right and who is wrong, to clarify who’s camp they’re in, and these people seem prepared to decimate the opponent they’ve determined their enemy.

I've been there, so I'm going to go first and confess. I've judged my sisters in Christ - those coheirs of the kingdom, those carrying heavy burdens. I've made sweeping statements about what the state of their souls must be like based on how they dress, what they read, what they post, and who they follow. I treated my sisters like enemies. 

I forgot the enemy was the enemy. It's not the author who has a different viewpoint, or the pastor who said the wrong thing. I forgot that Satan, the one leading the charge to cause dissension and confusion and conflict was the only enemy. And then I started to see the battle lines around me, including the ones I'd drawn, and my heart was grieved. 

Here’s the thing: this happens on a macro level, but it also happens in our churches, our homes, and friend groups. Someone sins, someone slips up, someone does what humans ultimately do and act fallible - and suddenly, WE ARE ALL UP IN ARMS. We can’t believe they’d do that! We’re incredulous. I thought they were a man of God or a woman of God and if so, how and why could they go and do that: act like a human?!

We can’t believe they’d do that! We’re incredulous. I thought they were a man of God or a woman of God and if so, how and why could they go and do that: act like a human?!

If we’re talking about holiness, the fighter inside of all of us (our pride) is going to work VERY hard to tempt us into only talking about how other people aren’t holy. We’re going to be tempted to see how that person over there (across the room or across the country) isn’t agreeing with the holiness that God has written over their lives. So let’s stop right now and make a pact: we’ll stay in our own circle of holiness. When we talk about ways we might be falling short of the identity that’s ours in Christ Jesus, we’ll talk about it like it’s just that: ours. Not yours. Not theirs. Not so and so’s.

Let’s draw a circle around ourselves and say - this is the human I’m most determined to help honor God and I refuse to entertain the temptation to spend my days judging others and treating humans like the enemy.

Let’s draw a circle around ourselves and say - this is the human I’m most determined to help honor God and I refuse to entertain the temptation to spend my days judging others and treating humans like the enemy.

Is this hard? Yes. Will it massively free us up? Yes. Are there exceptions to the rule? Absolutely.

But you’re going to have to read Dance Stand Run to hear a little more about that.

Chapter Three is called “Draw a Holy Circle” and I can’t wait for you to read it. If you preorder before the book launches on October 24th, we’ve got some crazy fun gifts for you. Head here to check them out. 

This is not a two party system.

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The election season of 2016 left me reeling, listening, and broken - anyone else? I'm a middle child who craves peace at heart, and seeing most of our country erupt into anger and extreme frustration at one another did a number on me. I often understood the anger, could even identify with it, but couldn't get over seeing our nation ripped in two by polarizing ideals. 

I know very little about politics, but this much seems simple: the two party system can't be the only way. If there are only two parties and each one is supposed to represent all potential views, you’re going to end up with archetypes and extremes. You’re going to miss out on nuance, tensions, and complex ideas that don’t sit well in seemingly polarizing camps. As I spoke with friends and loved ones during this crazy election season, I heard so many people expressing what I felt inside: an extreme view from one side or the other doesn’t really represent my viewpoints. There has to be a middle ground.

But this is not a blog post about politics - so let’s don’t get lost on that. The thing is: I think the same is true for our faith. I think this two party system has crept it’s way into our churches and our Christian communities and I have a feeling it’s not sitting well with you either. It seems right now that there is one camp yelling about grace and another professing our need for holiness and I see it everywhere I turn. 

This two party system has crept it’s way into our churches and our Christian communities and I have a feeling it’s not sitting well with you either.

My own story of struggling between holiness and grace is long and drawn out - but here it is summed up: I spent the first few years of my walk with Jesus feeling the need to cover up, hide my own brokenness, and earn my way into His approval. I felt a call to be holy, but the work to get there left me exhausted and exasperated - unsure of where the peace was in this equation.

Then, someone lovingly helped me understand what it means to receive the gospel, not just believe the gospel - and I found myself DELIGHTED by the grace of God. I heard that grace meant He leaned in towards me, at just the right time, when I needed Him most and could never earn my way to Him. I found that I could work from a place of His approval, rather than striving for it. But with my standing secure, I let any ideas of holiness or righteousness fall to the wayside.

And then. I was left aching and confused. What was a I set free from and where had that freedom set me to? If everything was grace, if grace covered it all - why did I still feel broken when I sinned and why did I not feel satisfied and free?

The truth I was missing all those years is that my faith life is not a two-party system. We don’t have to choose between pursuing holiness and celebrating the grace. No one is saying we must live a different way, and you won’t hear the word should come out of my mouth in this context either.

The thing is: I don’t think we’re meant to live in the extremes of earning our way to God or acting like we weren’t made for holy living. I don’t even think we’re supposed to function out of grace 50% of the time and a yearning for holiness the other 50%. I think we GET TO to dive in deep, grasping the grace and pardon we’ve been given by the blood of Jesus AND I think we GET TO stand our holy ground, recognizing who He has made us to be and what He has called us to.

In all earnest: any notion that pits the grace of God against holiness (His or ours), any thought that separates the two even - is lacking truth, abundance, and hope. 

In all earnest: any notion that pits the grace of God against holiness (His or ours), any thought that separates the two even - is lacking truth, abundance, and hope. 

Want to hear more? I can’t wait to share more of this with you. Dance Stand Run is a book of story and study that comes out on October 24th and this is what it’s about: less restricting two party systems, more abundant life. You in?

If you order today, or any day before the book launches, we’ve got fun gifts for you here. Let’s keep going. 

So what, satan.

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In the last year, as it pertains to writing and teaching, the enemy has been near and loud - speaking some serious doubt and fear into my life. That liar has told me that I'm stupid and silly, not intellectual enough and overly emotional. I've entertained anxiety, insecurity, and rejection. There's been the temptation for me to feel too far left and too far right or overly spiritual and ridiculously worldly all at once. 

It's been very interesting to process and fight these fears as I travel to teach and as I write a book. Sometimes I've experienced victory, and sometimes I've hidden and shrunk back. But I've felt the Lord's mercy in both of those responses - and craved freedom more than ever before. 

I've found peace in an unexpected place: not in the encouragement of others, not in time or worldly success. I've found peace in communing with God and saying SO WHAT about any accusation throw my way. So what if I'm not the smartest? So what if I don't say it perfectly? So what if they reject me? So what if I'm misunderstood? 

I've found peace in communing with God and saying SO WHAT about any accusation throw my way. 

I'm not here for the approval and I'm not in it for the accolades, so instead I'll become obsessed with the problems God has given me words to talk about. I'll keep talking and showing up, pointing to Him, and remembering that it was all for Him, by Him, and through Him anyhow. 

And all that is a lengthy and wordy way to say that yesterday, when some of my fears were still at a fever pitch - I signed a deal to keep writing books with Zondervan for a few more years. I think the team there is the greatest in the world and I'm so thankful they saw fit to let this girl with all the emotions, and words, and affection for pink write about God. I'm so thankful they take my wide eyed manifestos and turn them into tools for the women of God to utilize as they take their place in the kingdom. 

And here's my encouragement to you: if you feel like the enemy is lying to your soul (he probably is), tell him, "so what?". Ignore him and get with the Creator. We don't have to bargain and barter to build our identities - we don't have to defend ourselves because we're upheld by the breastplate of righteousness. That enemy of your soul is nothing but a schoolyard bully taking cheap shots to anyone who will listen, so just ignore him and move on.

That enemy of your soul is nothing but a schoolyard bully taking cheap shots to anyone who will listen, so just ignore him and move on.

I also want to just specifically say a massive thanks to the team that helps me write books, because I'm not sure I've ever done that in blog form. Jenni, my agent, is the gal who pushes me to be faithful to what God has called me to. Stephanie is my book editor who literally reads every word time and again, shifting them and moving them so that they're accessible and legible and helpful. I've described Sara, my curriculum editor, as the wisest woman in America - she loves the Bible fiercely and believes women should absolutely be taught to use it. She's so good at what she does. Alicia and Jennifer help us steward this message from the very get-go and Carly has incredible insight about devotionals and so far I have so loved working with her. These are just a few of the women that make it happen, but I just don't get to talk about them too much and wanted to take a minute to say thanks. 

And! Since it's been exactly one million years since I blogged, here are some updates: 

Dance Stand Run preorder gifts launched! 

You can get a ton of fun gifts, including an eBook I wrote with a bunch of friends about running on mission. There are prints, worship music, fun leadership groups, and HATS. Head to the Dance Stand Run website to see more. 

School started back! 

And all the mamas said "Amen!"

I pray y'all are doing so well and able to stand firm against the enemies' schemes at work in your life. He may be obnoxious and loud, but he already lost. Tell him so what and ignore him. Jesus is mighty in you. 

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