Why Do Christians Fake Holiness?

“What does your husband do?”  A very normal making-small-talk kind of question.

Also very normal for the conversation to halt or change course as soon as I answer. As many of you know, my husband is a pastor which unfortunately often means people act extra “spiritual” around us or better yet keep their “mask” on and a safe distance.

So refreshing though was a recent conversation with someone I had just met. My answer to that question did not all of the sudden cause her to tame her tongue, filter her thoughts or pretend to be anyone other than who she is. Instead she preceeded to empathize with what a hard “job” I have and to tell me why she prefers to avoid the church.

I loved it! Not that she doesn’t see the need to be connected to a church body, but the fact no walls hid her true self and thoughts. I mean, how can you get to know someone if all you see is the facade – and you don’t really know who they are? But she was real – real honest – and therefore we could have a meaningful conversation, instead of the superficial fluff that catagorizes far too many of our relationships.

But, back to her reason for being disinterested in church. A reason Christians need to hear because her experience with Christians and the church is far too often felt by way too many.

In essence she said: WHILE GRACE MAY BE PREACHED, WORKS IS WHAT IS PRACTICED.

Guess what?

She is absolutely right and I want no part of that either!

There is a disconnect between what we claim to be true about the gospel and what we really believe. The good news of the gospel gives us a Savior who died a sacrificial death for our sins, but it doesn’t end there. He also credited his perfect, sinless, holy, righteous life to us and that is how God sees His children!

All of our sin – past, present and future – has been dealt with at the cross so there is nothing we must do to earn His favor. We are free to be deeply loved, broken sinners with a never ending flow of grace. And every one of us is in this same boat.

  • If this is true, why then do we pretend otherwise?  
  • Why do we hide our struggles and sin?
  • Why do we want others to think we have it all together and are “better” than we are? 
  • Why do we insist others must live up to a certain standard we impose?
  • Why do we distance ourselves from those who are “messy” and more visibly broken than us?
  • Why do we think our good works and high morals are what matters?
  • Why aren’t we free to fail?
  • Why aren’t we free to confess our sin and seek forgiveness?
  • Why aren’t we captivated by Jesus but stay so self-absorbed?
  • Why do we not see the idols we are worshipping instead of the One true God?
  • Why do we insist on remaining so guarded to others?
  • Why can’t we be honest about what’s going on in our lives and hearts?
  • Why do we live a lie if we’ve been freed by the gospel?

th

These questions for self-examination could go on and on. But here is the point: Jesus came for sinners – the broken and messed up – not for those who think they are holy and righeous or in need of no fix.  

So when we sit in church and in our holy huddles and go about our lives thinking our moral behavior and good deeds make us “good” Christians we speak a lie about the gospel. We are acting as the Pharisees did pointing our judgmental noses down at all those “sinners” not seeing the sin and discrepency in own hearts. Inadvertantly instead of witnessing to the gospel grace and freedom Jesus gives, we give off a ‘holier than Thou’ vibe that makes it seem like measuring up to perfection is what God requires.

This is not the gospel of grace. That is the law, done away with when Jesus came. Is there any wonder people aren’t attracted to the church or believers when this is what we seem to be about? And because deep in our hearts we know we also fail to measure up, we are faking our own spirituality!

th-2

For the sake of His kingdom and to the testimony of His grace, know that “Christ has set you free” so you are free to admit your sin, struggles, and pain without fear of condemnation.  “Do not submit again to this yoke of slavery” that lead Christians to believe having it all together and getting better is required.  That is not the gospel and does more to distance others than to attract. (Galatians 5:1 partially paraphrased). See the beauty in taking off the masks and being known, knowing the greater testimony is that we have a God who loves sinners who see their need for forgiveness and grace!

Don’t want to miss any post? Enter your email on the upper right-hand column after “Follow blog via email.”

“That’s Not Fair!”

th-1

How often are those the words that lead to fights between your children?

  • He got more ice cream.
  • She gets to have more friends spend the night.
  • He got to play the Xbox longer.
  • She didn’t help put the laundry away.
  • He has new shoes and didn’t need another new pair.
  • He got a cell phone two years before me!
  • And on and on and on….

These have all been said in my house with one incident occurring just the other night stemming from a discrepency in our parenting decisions between the first-born and the youngest. (Could probably write another post just on that!) But I know if you are a parent you hear these things too – and probably since its summer you hear it way more than you’ld like:)

And what is our typical response – at least mine?

“Life’s not fair!”

Easy to say to our kids, but how do we respond when life is not fair to us?  Not so easy to accept, is it? Sure not an easy pill to swallow in suffering. Or, in experiencing trials or hardship of any kind. What about if we’ve been the victim of injustice or discrimination? Or when someone else’s sin affects us, causing us pain.

“Life’s NOT fair!” And really there are often no answers that aren’t trite or solutions that make us feel any better. In fact the only thing I have to fall back on is the grace of our God who is not fair.

You see, we don’t really want fair. If God was fair, we would all be doomed. If God was fair, we wouldn’t be forgiven. We would be held accountable for all our sins. A punishment deserving death. But, because God is not fair He made a way for us to have eternal life by placing all judgment on His perfectly holy and righteous Son. And then He even credited that holy and righteousness to us!

That means we are viewed by God as He sees His Son – righteous! Even in our sin! No longer is my sin an issue to Him because He has cast His unlimited forgiveness and unconditional grace and love on me. No matter what!

And none of us deserve that! But praise God in His mercy He took “Life is Unfair” to an unfathomable conclusion exacting justice on Jesus and not on us. Therefore, as an innocent man our Savior understands “that’s not fair” because He experienced the ultimate injustice for us!

Glory be to God for His Goodness and Grace!

th

Don’t want to miss any post? Enter your email on the upper right-hand column after “Follow blog via email.” 

Our Kid-Free Kamp

Tomorrow we will reunite with our kids after their two-week stay at camp. A daily highlight when they are away is searching for those three precious faces among the sea of kids in the online photos posted each morning by the camps. Here are just a few that made me smile…

K-2-8238

K-W-0158

K-K-7956

But don’t think for a minute that we’ve just been sitting around waiting for pictures to post. Nope. We have been making our own memories and decided to document it for our kids. What they will see and we needed to remember is:

1. WE ARE FUN (family joke!) In all seriousness, we need to have more fun. This recent Ann Voskamp tweet caught my attention:

“Seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit. Joy is. We need to be about the serious business of joy.”

And you’ve heard quotes like:

“Families (or couples) who have fun together stay together.”

It is so easy to fall into our normal routines, being swept away by the busyness of life, that the spontaneity of activities we once enjoyed no longer happens. Obviously in the stage of life we are in now makes spontaneity hard anyway, so we must then be deliberate about planning fun things to do with each other or the laughter and joy will fade too.

2. With balancing full schedules, often forced to divide and conquer to get everything done, we don’t realize until the kids are gone (perhaps to camp or college or even just a weekend sleepover) that as spouses we may have become more like roommates. It is easy to lose touch with each other and not even know what to talk about.  The reality is the longer you go without investing in one another by learning or relearning who each other is, the harder it is to undo bad patterns and to continue growing together instead of apart. That is why we wanted to capitalize on this time without kids to reconnect.

Plus, one of the greatest ways we can love our kids is to prioritize our communication and time together. Our life does not and should not always be centered on them. And when they see we are on the same page and enjoy being with one another they actually feel more secure.

The two weeks of our own “kamp” was invaluably necessary to our marriage and therefore to our kids. We tried new place, did some fun things and just hung out at home together. We enjoyed some time with friends and each of us had time to work uninterruptedly. I feel refreshed – and ready (I think) to put my mom hat back on! 

Here’s the pictures to show…

Saturday brunch on the day the kids left.

Saturday brunch on the day the kids left.

Dinner out trying new places.

Dinner out trying new places.

Afternoon at the lake biking the hidden trails.

Afternoon at the lake biking the hidden trails.

Lots of painting grace needed for me while helping out friends!

Lots of painting grace needed for me while helping out friends!

Evenig spent at a downtown rooftop bar.

Evenig spent at a downtown rooftop bar.

Now if we can just follow my own advice and not wait until next summer to keep this up!

Don’t want to miss any post? Enter your email on the upper right-hand column after “Follow blog via email.”

Do You Need To Be Encouraged?

You know those days or seasons when it feels like nothing goes right? Nothing is easy or gets accomplished quite like you had intended. You feel like your worthless as a parent, as a spouse or in your job. You feel like a failure and can’t wait to just check out with a glass of wine in front of the TV or maybe just pass out in your bed.

But what if your husband, friend or co-worker walked in and said, “Wow! I saw how you handled XYZ.  You really turned that situation around by the way you spoke with such patience, love and grace?”

Does that change the way you feel? Perhaps a little more energized to make it through the day? Maybe a little more confident or motivated to keep on keepin’ on? Amazing how a little encouragement goes a long way!                                  

If this is true for us, why do fail to give it to others?

Hebrews 3:13 says:

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” 

Hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. That is what happens when we are not encouraged! I’ve read this scripture before, but today I get it.

To be very honest we are in a season of needing encouragement. Without it, the deceitfulness of sin is exactly what happens as Satan takes the lies and spins them as truths in our head. Now there are conflicting voices speaking into our hearts and because we struggle and doubt and worry and fear and stop believing He is good and He is near and He is with us, we give ear to Satan. And the more we hear it, the harder it is to fight it with the truth of who Jesus is. There is no denying we are sinners whose hearts are easily hardened.

If this is true for me and this is written in the Word, I know I am not alone. We all need to be encouraged. We all need to know we are loved, we are worthy, we are impacting others, doing a good job, making a difference- and the list goes on.

So my encouragement while it is still today: look for ways to love those God has set in your path, whether a family member, friend or someone that just pops into your head, and encourage them with gospel truths.

You know what I discover in this?

I have to take my eyes off myself and my own needs in order to see someone else who needs encouragement – which is probably exactly the answer to why we don’t give it.  We are often just so self-consumed that we don’t think about others. 

So, Lord, with my eyes fixed on you help me to be mindful of those who need encouragement and to remember that even when I’m not encouraged - You still delight in me and never will You forsake me. And if that’s all I have to hang on to for now, Lord, help that be all I need!

Don’t want to miss any post? Enter your email on the upper right-hand column after “Follow blog via email.” 

Three Free Sins

5On Monday nights for six weeks this summer I am gathering with other women to discuss our free sins.  That’s right – Three Free Sins is the name of the book – and it is absolutely FREEING!

You are probably thinking one of two things. Either what three do I get a free pass on or why just three if all were paid for by Jesus on the cross?

The truth is as a believer you do get a free pass and not just on three. It’s unlimited forgiveness and undeserved righteousness credited to your account. There is no limit, meaning you can not exhaust Jesus’ smile upon you no matter how many times you fall into sin.

Does this mean Jesus is okay with your sin?

It means He has forgiven you and paid the price. He absorbed the cost and does not hold it against you. This means you are FREE to not be perfect. You are FREE to fail. You are FREE to stop hiding. You are FREE to take off the masks. You are FREE be broken and vulnerable and used by God just as you are. It means you are FREE to stop pretending you aren’t a sinner and see how great a Savior you have.

Practically speaking and borrowing some from the book’s author, Steve Brown, this is what FREEDOM would look like…

  • When you are confronted in your sin instead of making excuses for yourself, passing it off, blame shifting or denying you can say, “Bingo! You are right. I did that. Please forgive me.” You are FREE to confess because you are not ruled by fear of what the other person will think of you if you admit to sinning. You are FREE to confess because you know God already knows your sin and loves you anyway. Imagine in an exchange like this how much more willing the one you offended would be to forgive? Ironically instead of them thinking worse of you in your attempt to cover-up, your humble confession actually makes you more lovable!                                                                                 
  • What about when someone sins against you? When you know how deeply you need a Savior because of your sins, you are more compassionate to others in their sin. You are FREE to be a grace-giver because you know the grace you have been given.
  • When you know you are a broken sinner – a cracked-pot or Crack Pot, as we laughed about on Monday – and everyone else is too, you are FREE to stop pretending otherwise. Now when you are struggling in your marriage, having a hard time with your kids, giving into sinful temptations, dealing with depression, doubt or discontentment, you are FREE to admit it and confide in other broken, but safe sinners without fear of judgment or condemnation.
  • When you know you have unlimited forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness covering you, you are FREE in your sin to run to Him in repentance instead of trying to hide, working to clean yourself up or striving to be better. He knows the sinful inner working and motives of your heart and loves you anyway so stop thinking you have to be perfect. Rest knowing that only by His perfect life given for you are you FREE.
  • When you know this FREEDOM, you won’t have to fear what others think of you. You won’t have to do things to make yourself look better. You won’t have to worry about messing up your witness if you sin. Afterall, are we witnessing to how perfect we are or that we have a perfect Savior because we are not?

I cannot recommend this book enough! Go order it and read it on your own or start your own group discussion. Find FREEDOM in knowing this present-tense reality:

“God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

He came not for the righteous, but sinners. And He pours out His grace and mercy on us in that same condition. By this gospel truth, may you be FREE in your brokenness to live honestly with one another.

Don’t want to miss any post? Enter your email on the upper right-hand column after “Follow blog via email.”

 

15 Years a Father

For fifteen (well, just about 16) years, you have been a father. Since they were babies all you had to do was walk into the room and your presence lit up their faces. Your laugh: contagious and love: secure.

To this day they turn to see the approval in your eyes. They are “filled” by the time you invest in them – whether it be “messin’ with JBird time,” throwing the lacrosse ball with Big D or getting your steps in with your daughter.  Their hearts being shaped by the spiritual truths you pour into them and their understanding of God – their eternal, perfect Father – more fully seen because of who you are.

Thank you for this gift not just to them, but to me. Thank you for loving us well. In your honor, a timeline through the ages highlighting the fabulous (fun and caring) father you are.

IMG_5305

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_5314Goofy hats

Tom's Rebecca scripture_2

Bike ride Daddy and David

3-D glasses

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_3467

IMG_5710

IMG_3252

Love to you and to my own Dad- who created just as many memories and secured me in his love. And as seen in this pic from circa 1973 this little girl wanted to be just like her Daddy, too:)

IMG_5313

 

The Naughty Pastor’s Wife

Thanks to a dear friend I have been dubbed The NPW, aka, The Naughty Pastor’s Wife.

IMG_4425

You may not see me this way. But I am.

I am a sinner just like you. With ugly thoughts and an impure heart. I don’t always love the church or my family the way I should. I don’t always say the right thing or reach out to everyone who needs a friend. And to be perfectly honest sometimes I spiral downward into my own selfishness wishing others would reach out to me.

So there you have it. I’m sorry if I burst your bubble of who you think I am or how a pastor’s wife should be. But when I read the article: Nine Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew posted on Facebook earlier this week it resonated so closely to ways I often feel it was worth re-posting and hasn’t left me.

While many Christians strive hard trying to be perfect and sin-free, pastor’s wives wish you would see we are imperfect and sinful – just like everyone else!  But we, along with our husbands and children, are often put on pedestals and therefore when we sin in the same ways as anyone else, it is worse or more surprising.

That is a lot of pressure to live under with not a lot of grace given. Praise Jesus that He has given me unlimited forgiveness and His righteousness so I am free to screw up. I am free to be exactly who He has made me to be. And I am thankful for those who allow me to be that person and for my husband and kids to be who they are.

WIth that being said, a few things I want to elaborate on from the above mentioned article:

1. We need friends. It is absolutely a lonely and isolating calling. We carry lots of other people’s burdens, many of which must remain private. All weigh heavily on us emotionally and affect our moods and relationships. Yet we have very few to help carry ours or even see that we need it. Furthermore, sometimes instead of being the one expected to do the inviting it would be so nice to have others initiate and include us in plans. I promise we are fun!

2. As I say that I must add a disclaimer – don’t invite us on Saturday.  Sundays can be long and exhausting, but Saturdays often stink, too.  It’s a work-day for my husband, which means that is when I am a single-mom carting kids to sports, birthday parties, cooking and cleaning house especially if we are having Sunday lunch guests. It also means we can’t enjoy a normal date night or party like other people do, which makes carving out time for our marriage even more challenging.

3. We can’t be Jesus to everyone. Though not being able to help everyone makes us feel like we are failing. The reality is the body of Christ is called to be the hands and feet; the pastor is called to preach the Word. As a pastor’s wife, I fall in to the catagory of hands and feet, but I am still just one person. Therefore, I can’t possibly minister to my family and everyone inside and outside of the church who wants me to be by their side. Won’t the body step up and see this is not just our calling?

4. Lastly, we do take things personally. Sometimes sinfully so. But the church is our baby so when we experience criticism, disinterest and avoidance it hurts. This does not mean there is not a place for honest dialogue and critique and if you do attend our church that is prefered over unexplained disappearances. So please don’t run or hide. And whether you attend our church or not it is nice to be asked about church in the same way others are asked about their jobs.

The author of the article concluded that a pastor’s wife wants to be known. And I would re-emphasize - known as a fellow broken sinner, sitting in the same boat and struggling with the same things.

A Naughty Pastor’s Wife, I may be, but I am Redeemed and want to live life redemptively and honestly alongside you. So though I’ve shared that we carry many burdens, please don’t let that stop you from sharing with me or your pastor’s wife. Instead, I hope in seeing me as I am, you will know I am safe and not shocked by sin. And therefore with no condemnation and covered by His blood, we will experience freedom and friendship together.

Don’t want to miss any post? Enter your email on the upper right-hand column after “Follow blog via email.”