What We Need to Understand About Contentment to Survive


There are mushrooms in my back yard.  

A cluster function all their own.

I didn’t plant them. But I don’t intend to do anything about removing them either. I kind of like them. Come next week they'll be a distant memory anyway.

I walk into the house and inhale deeply. It's been nearly five years, two books, countless Bible studies, and lots of travel since the day my ex-husband closed the door behind him and left this house forever.

We looked for a modest home a year after we got married. One that we could sustain on one income should something happen economically. We chose this house in north Houston because it fit us and was an easy commute between church and jobs.

The house bustled with life as we unpacked boxes, set up our own studies, and furnished the guest room to welcome visitors. On the first night between the stacks of boxes we told each other we would be here for a very, very long time.

We were content. We planted roots. We invited Jesus in. We sowed seeds for our future.

Then one rainy night, life uprooted as he closed the door behind him one last time. I cried. I got angry.

We got divorced.

And this house wrapped its arms around me and became my safe haven from an unsure future.

I didn't know if I would be able to keep it. I never thought our plan of surviving on one income would ever become a reality. There are memories in every corner, many more good than bad. I budgeted, cut back, and pressed forward.

I didn't plan on putting down roots here alone. But I remodeled the interior to reflect my personality, and the roots sank deeper. No matter how fierce the spiritual or emotional storms raged during that terrible season, this house was home. Jesus did a lot of ministry in my heart between these walls.

I was content. 

Because true contentment isn't about acquiring stuff, it's about allowing our Savior to inhabit our days.

When we grasp that truth, God turns our surviving into thriving regardless of our circumstances.

I didn't dream for a bigger and better house. I dreamed for God to fill this one with joy, love, and laughter once again.

And He has. As wonderful family gatherings, lunches with friends, ministry celebrations, and holidays filled it, I saw John 10:10 take on new meaning: “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”

A full life isn't about a bigger house, it's about a big God who turns a house into a home.

So much life and love spills out of this house that the very walls have stretched to accommodate it. And with it, the roots have gone even deeper.

I get down on my knees in the flower bed and pull weeds. It's amazing the beauty God allows us to see when contentment reigns. The same soil produces flowers and weeds. It's what we allow to take root that makes all the difference.

My unexpected life. In all its glorious disarray.

Life and Grace.

This house. Old memories and new. A cluster function of mushrooms and a bed of beautiful roses.

I bury them in my heart, walk back inside, and exhale.

What does contentment look like to you?

The Media Screen Gospel

Thirty five years ago, my media consisted of books, magazines, radio, and TV (seven local channels if you didn't have cable). We watched movies in theaters as a special family outing since my parents didn't allow us to watch HBO movies. My sisters and I weren't allowed to watch Saturday Night Live since my parents believed it used too much adult humor and situation comedy for tender ears. 

Since my childhood, the media scene has changed dramatically. I watch many parents and grandparents today attempt to navigate it for children and feel overwhelmed. Electronic media pervades our lives. Many homes are now equipped with TV screens in nearly every room even the bathroom. Screens are virtually everywhere we go – restaurants, waiting rooms, cars, gas station pumps, and grocery check-out lines. 

They are even in our pockets.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, today's children spend an average of 7 hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones, and other electronic media. That’s 49 hours a week – the equivalent of a full time job plus overtime. 

And the average adult spends even more time – especially if your job requires you to sit in front of a computer screen most of the day. Add those hours to the time spent at home on laptops, television and games and the number is just flat out staggering. Increased screen time has been linked to obesity, violence, over-consumption fueled by advertising, and even learning disabilities in children when content is not monitored.

Yes, some of our screen time is educational, such as for our job or home-schooling assignments for children. But that many hours? Personally, I mentally high-five myself if I limit screen time to under 10 hours a day (between writing and my full time job). 

Frankly, that amount of time is staggering.

So why is it important as a Christian to pay attention to this issue?

1) The message

All media seeks to communicate a message. Every song, TV show and commercial, movie, YouTube video, Instagram picture, Facebook post, and every app has something to say: buy this, wear this, eat this, value this, pay attention to this, mock this, speak in this manner. Not all media messages are harmful, but many conflict with the greater message we are trying to communicate as Christians and Christian parents. 

Although most parents know to dodge obviously bad media messages such as violence or sexual content, the subtle messages like imitating behavior or appearance often slips under the radar. Even if a movie or show has been rated as age-appropriate, do the characters speak and act in ways you want your children to imitate? What about you?

Unmonitored screen time invites strangers into our homes and gives them unprecedented access and influence. Educating ourselves and children to look for the value of the message being communicated is essential.

Relegating the Gospel to media screen sharing leaves eternity to chance and distances us from hands-on, heart-engaged evangelism.

2) Face time

When was the last time you had an in-depth conversation about faith with your spouse? Loved one? Close friend? Your children? The average time per week parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is 38.5 minutes

We've traded face time for screen time. 

Screens tend to be gap fillers for boredom and rob our families of the sacred spaces where good conversations develop. Scripture tells us to “teach [the commands of the Lord] diligently to your children, [talking] of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) A climate of conversation is clearly implied. Face time, not screen time.

Jesus was about loving people up close and personal, building relationships, and spreading the Gospel message on a personal level. How many of us would actually attend church if all we ever received was a random Facebook invitation? I don't believe I would be a Christian at all if that's how it had gone down for me. I received a personal invitation to attend church in a face-to-face conversation. It was a personal Gospel - not a media screen Gospel - that God used most powerfully. 

We need human touch, not just a touch screen.

3) Time

Ephesians 5:15-16 says this: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Between 1909 and 2014, the life expectancy in the United States rose from 51 years to 79.5 years. That’s an impressive gain of 28 years. John Calvin wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion at age 26 and died by age 55. Jonathan Edwards pastored his first church at 17 and died by age 54. Charles Spurgeon became a pastor at age 19 and died by age 57. Think what these men might have accomplished had they been given 28 more years of life. 
Now think about this: if a child who begins watching 7 hours of screen time a day at age 4 maintains that amount of screen time to the age of 79, guess how much time he will have spent consuming screen media in his lifetime? Much more than 28 years. And what are the odds he'll be penning theology in five volumes at age 26?
In Psalm 90, Moses asked that God would teach him to number rightly his days, that he might gain a heart of wisdom. I’m just guessing, but I don't believe Moses would have been a big fan of screen time. 
It's time to intentionally unplug more often. 
Number your days and the days of your children rightly. Give yourself and your children the gift of years. Give them the gift of face time over screen time. Give them the gift of an uncluttered mind, of a heart of wisdom open to receive the most vital message of all: the gospel of Christ, given through the gracious media of the Word and the Spirit. 

Why Can't the People in Hell be Given Another Chance?

A few weeks ago, I posed this question both here and on Facebook:

"If you could ask God one question, what would it be?"

A litany of questions followed. Some stemmed from curiosity. However, most birthed out of personal struggles and hard battles. Today, we begin our quest through Scripture to answer them in this "Life's Toughest Questions" series.

Question #1:
Why can't the people in Hell be given another chance?

You, like me, probably have people in your life who do not believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. One of my closest friends is a self-proclaimed atheist. I have no doubt in my mind that if she were to die today, I would not see her in heaven one day. And that breaks my heart. 

She's a good person who does many good things. She is trustworthy, loyal and a true friend. She's a contributor to society and helps others in need. I used to wonder, "God, isn't that good enough?"

My atheist friend believes in neither Heaven nor Hell. She believes that we only exist during our lifetime and to dust we shall return. So perhaps the question that needs to be answered first is whether Hell actually exists.

Scripture confirms the existence of Hell numerous times, most specifically that Jesus actually walked through Hell triumphantly after His crucifixion. In fact, Jesus took Hell so serious that He said without hesitation to remove your eye or cut off your hand or foot if that would keep you out of Hell (Mark 9:43-37). Here are a few basic facts:
  • Hell exists to punish the sin of rejecting Christ (Matthew 13:41,50; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8)
  • God created our souls as eternal beings, so everyone will exist eternally in Heaven or Hell (Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28; Revelation 20:14-15
  • God intended Hell for Satan and his demons, not us (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10)
As far as who ends up in Hell, we are all deserving of Hell because of sin. No one is worthy on their own for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. However, we are saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone.

Those are the facts. The head knowledge, so to speak. But what about those nagging questions we have, like:

How can a loving God send anyone to Hell?

More specifically, how can a loving God send some I love to Hell? 

We can safely say in a sense that God doesn't send anybody to Hell, because He placed the cross of Christ across that road toward Hell. In other words, throughout our lifetime God makes Himself known to all -- especially through the evidence in creation: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20

The handiwork of an omnipotent God shines throughout our physical world. His design resonates within the complexity of the microscopic DNA code to the vastness of the telescopic universe. In Psalm 19:1, King David writes, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the sky above proclaims His handiwork."

In this way, God has provided a way for salvation to all -- even those who have not heard of Christ -- through what has clearly been seen. Therefore God does not send people to Hell, those people have chosen it (Romans 1:18, 21, 25).

God also gives us His Word that testifies to Christ, He puts people in our path who tell us about Him, and then there are countless prayers offered by pastors, parents, friends and loved ones that God brings into our lives to stop us on our self-centered path and to bring us to the Savior.

A person must intentionally wander past ALL of this to put themselves in Hell. 

If we ask how a God of love can send anyone to Hell, we might as well ask other questions like:
  • Does God allow disease in the world?
  • Does God allow jails and prisons for some people?
  • Does God allow the death penalty sometimes?
  • Does God allow sin to break home and hearts?
  • Does God allow war?
All of these things are the consequences of sin entering into the world, and in some cases the direct result of man's rebellion, and the result of greed, pride, egotism, and hunger for power that is self-centered, not God-centered.

God gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. God has provided the way of salvation to all (John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Timothy 2:6, 4:10; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9).

The greatest sin in the world is to reject the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

It is the sin the relegates us to existing eternally without Him. According to Scripture, Hell is eternal and irreversible (Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 14:11, 20:14-15). Hell is the absence of love, light, warmth, joy -- every good thing that exists because of God's mercy and grace.

When I think of my atheist friend, it makes me that much more determined to love her as Christ does -- not as a mission project, but as someone whom I don't want to spend eternity separated from His love. It makes my conversations with her more intentional about issues of faith. I don't want her to be in that place of constant torment (Matthew 13:50; Mark 9:48).

We do not have windows into people's souls. We cannot see the desire of their hearts. We cannot know what they truly believe. We can only be faithful to intentionally, faithfully share the Gospel seed and pray that it takes root on fertile soil.

The bottom line? It's God's call.

I wish I could make my friend believe, but that's not our job. Our job is to continuously point people to the only One who can save them from Hell. 

God alone is the judge. 
What are your thoughts? 

Please note: I will carefully monitor the comments section during this series to ensure the conversations remain respectful and grace-filled. I will remove any comments that are intentionally inflammatory, belittling, hurtful, or judgmental. This needs to be a safe place to maintain helpful dialogue about the issue at hand.

Dear Pastor's Wife, Please Forgive Us

A little over a week ago, I wrote a blog post dedicated to pastors.

The response was overwhelming.

Beyond the blog comments seen by all, what touched me the most were the responses that came through phone calls, texts, private Facebook messages, and even notes through the regular mail from those who love our pastors most: their wives. They expressed such gratitude at the encouraging words shared on the post for their husbands. 

It reminded me about the challenging road our pastors' wives walk -- not only my pastors' wives but the plethora of these amazing women whom I have had the privilege to meet and befriend all over the United States of America.

So to each of you precious, dearly-loved women of courageous faith:

You gracefully stand silently in the shadows while people clamor for your husband's attention and heap praises on him (though he deserves it) when no one seems to notice you.  

Please forgive us.

You live in a glass house where everything is scrutinized, yet you continue to keep those windows clean with the forgiveness extended that we often don't deserve.

Please forgive us.

We ruthlessly police your fashion, hairstyle, hair color, size, and words like it's our sole duty on this planet.

Please forgive us.

You sit dutifully while your husband uses your family as a sermon illustration pun again and smile while we laugh at you.

Please forgive us.

When we gripe, complain or criticize something about your husband or the church -- even when it gets so nasty that there should be a smack down right in the middle of the narthex -- you smile graciously and tell us that you will pass along our concerns. 

Please forgive us.

You strive to walk as a disciple of Jesus, faced with the same struggles and complications that we go through, yet you're faced with the challenge of going through many things silently.

Please forgive us. 

You are often thrown into positions in the church that no one else wants to do -- often areas you are not gifted in -- yet you trudge faithfully ahead while we criticize every step.

Please forgive us.

And then, there's this:

Some days, you worry the stress may kill your husband. You desperately want to be in the will of God but may be afraid of what that might require of you, your marriage and your children.

You long to help the multitudes and would lay down your very lives for the beautiful body of Christ, and that makes you very, very tired. Perhaps you wonder when your husband retires if you will ever walk into a Church again. Sometimes sheep bite.

But I want you to know, dear Pastor's Wife: 

It's tough and can get lonely out there, but you are standing on the Rock.

You may not have anticipated this calling to be a pastor's wife, but God has equipped you for this noble work.

God will faithfully provide helpers to you who love you wholeheartedly and find joy in praying for you and walking alongside you -- whether inside or outside your Church. 

Jesus can heal your wounded soul, renew your tormented mind, reconcile broken relationships, bring about forgiveness, bring hope in the midst of exhaustion, mend your broken heart, and meet your every need. 

I pray for God to keep faith and hope alive in you, because WE NEED YOU.

We may not always tell you, but please know this:

You are LOVED.
You are VALUED.
You shine God's light RADIANTLY.

Sisters, I love you dearly and esteem you greatly. THANK YOU for your extraordinary sacrifice of praise to Christ our Savior.

Church, when was the last time you prayed for your pastor's wife?
C'mon, Church, let's encourage them today.
What say you?

Guarding the Sabbath for Our Sanity

An article about body rhythms caught my attention not long ago. It uncovered that our blood pressure, heartbeat, and body temperature increase and decrease in seven-day patterns. But what fascinated me most was that all of these weekly conditions depend on rest.

In other words, our bodies and our brains need weekly rest in order to operate at maximum capacity.

Science has finally confirmed God's design. The research revealed that we are physically designed to work for six days a week. One day a week, we are biologically designed to rest. This also applies to daily rest. We can rest for 30 minutes every three hours or rest for 24 hours every seven days.

So what gets in the way of our rest?

1. Activities

So many to pursue, so little time. Don’t be fooled: the proliferation of activity options for us and our children is a reflection of our cultural affluence, not of our need to be well-rounded or socialized. Late-night texting and TV watching, online chatting, surfing the web – all can rob us of nighttime rest. The daytime robbers of our rest are too numerous to list.

Understanding and implementing Sabbath rest is a continuing challenge. Since the Sabbath falls on Sunday for many people, it's a church day. However, after church, do you work in the yard, grocery shop, clean the car, or scrub down the house? Or do you read the paper, have brunch, take a nap, share a picnic, or enjoy dinner with family or friends? Sunday afternoons are a sacred time for me and I intentionally turn off my phone and "take a nap." I never regret it. 

If you're a ministry leader, Sunday may be packed full of work. Do you take another day to disconnect and stop from your labor? Here are four litmus test questions to ask yourself and your family when scheduling your week:
  1. Does it sabotage weekend down-time or worship?
  2. Does it sabotage family dinners?
  3. Does it sabotage bedtime?
  4. Does it pull our family apart or push us together?
Sabbath priorities consist of rest, worship, community. Well-rested parents and children bypass many of the unsavory side effects of exhaustion: forgetfulness, drama, isolation, and yes – anxiety and depression. Guarding rest actually gives us a running start at Christlike behavior.

2. The Demand to be Productive

Whether self-imposed or culture driven, we often believe that continuous production takes precedence to rest. Striving to be in constant motion is in direct conflict with focusing on sustained rest. Practicing and maintaining Sabbath rest is a discipline to be guarded well.

However, practicing disciplines comes with a warning. Sometimes we can make complicated rule lists about resting on the Sabbath. We become consumed with the details, forgetting the spirit behind the practice. The Sabbath isn't a harsh rule meant to enslave us, instead, it's a refreshing means of worship, made to remember Who is really in control.

When day after day of productivity unfolds, a simple yearning returns to the soul for rest, disconnect and peace. Heed that yearning and rest in the Lord.

Simple Application

So how do we rest and allow God to refresh and refuel us? I think you know. All you have to do is look at your schedule to know that, like me, some things need to be deleted.

But here are two simple applications that I will begin tomorrow. For daily rest: do not check my cell phone until after breakfast and my quiet time. That's going to be hard! For weekly rest, guard Sundays as a day of rest. Chores and everything else can wait. Period.

Perhaps those disciplines will show me two things: (1) the extent of my technology-driven mentality; and (2) how much more rested I will feel after intentionally unplugging for Sabbath rest both daily and weekly.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of operating tired. Perhaps it's time to guard our sanity by guarding the Sabbath. 

What are your thoughts on practicing the Sabbath today?
Do you have tips to share? 

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17

Understanding the Beautiful Symbolism of Rosh Hashanah

As a Christian, I must admit that I have not spent a whole lot of time studying Jewish holidays. However, since the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah begins tomorrow, I spent time educating myself. I found it fascinating and thought you might, too.

What is Rosh Hashana?

At sundown tomorrow night, Jewish people will begin celebrating one of their most important religious holidays, Rosh Hashanah. It remembers the creation of the world. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means the "head of the year."

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the day the Hebrew calendar begins. It is considered to be one of the High Holy Days or the days of awe. It is also called the Feast of the Trumpets because the blowing of a ram's horn, a shofar, proclaims Rosh Hashanah, and summons Jews to religious services.

A key component in preparing for Rosh Hashanah is to ask for forgiveness from anyone the person may have wronged during the previous year. To the greatest extent possible, they desire to begin the year with a clean slate – without anyone harboring a grudge.

Rosh Hashanah is when the “Torah” – the five books that comprise Jewish text – is read again from the beginning, starting with the Book of Genesis. One of the central themes of Rosh Hashanah is to “return.” Some see this as a return to a connection with God.

While it does have its festive side, Rosh Hashanah is not one big party, as the New Year's celebrations on December 31st tend to be. Rosh Hashanah is a time for personal introspection and prayer. By wishing each other well and sending cards, people let friends know what happened in the past year and what plans lie ahead. Christmas cards and get-togethers fill a similar role for Christians.
Traditional Jewish foods accompany Rosh Hashanah. Typically, a blessing will be said over two loaves of bread, known as challah. The round shape symbolizes a crown, a reminder of the kingship of God. Challah also stands for the circle of life, and the hope that our lives endure without end. It is sometimes baked with a ladder on top in recognition that only God decides who climbs up or down the ladder of life.

Apples dipped in honey are another Rosh Hashanah tradition. It symbolizes the hope for a "sweet year" ahead. Honey is spread on challah. Tzimmes, a mixture made from carrots, cinnamon, yams, prunes, and honey, is also traditional.

During the evening Rosh Hashanah service, on Wednesday night, the shofar is blown again, symbolizing awakening the soul towards the day of judgment or evaluation of the deeds of one’s past year. Rosh Hashanah ends at sundown on Friday, when the Jewish observance of the Sabbath begins. 

So if you have Jewish friends, be sure to wish them a blessed Rosh Hashanah. It would be the same as if they were to wish you a Merry Christmas. 


For more historic and Biblical understanding of Rosh Hashana, please visit here.

The Winner {and some Travel Funnies}

Thank you to all who entered to win Michelle DeRusha's new book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know

The winner is: MARY PACE! {I will email you today!}

I highly recommend this amazing book. Michelle beautifully captures the lives, struggles, accomplishments and unexpected moments of these 50 extraordinary women. They come across as accessible and relatable. I learned so much, and I know that will be true for everyone who reads it.

And in other news...

I'm in a busy writing and traveling season, so I thought I'd lighten my blogging load today and simply share this cartoon about traveling. I've watched it three times and laughed each time!

I hope it brings a smile to your face as we head toward the weekend -- especially if you're traveling!

I pray God's richest blessings over you, remembering:

"He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 (NIV) 

50 Women Every Christian Should Know {and a Giveaway}

It was a great privilege to read an advanced copy of Michelle DeRusha's new book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Honestly, I couldn't put it down. And it finally hit the shelves today!

With every page I turned, it became crystal clear how much the Church needs this book. It's not just for women. The next generation of men (in fact, all men) need to hear about these amazing women of faith. Michelle expertly weaves through each story how God is always with us in the midst of our struggles.

From Katharina Luther to Corrie ten Boom, these 50 courageous women of valor inspired me to be a more intentional Christian, how to love better, and give joyfully with a generous heart. Michelle says:

"These are real, relatable women with fears, challenges, distractions, sorrows and joys much like ours. In their stories I saw my own struggles, flaws, desires and delights. By the time I had finished writing this book, I understood something important: These women are not only our heroines, they are also our sisters in faith."

Michelle beautifully captures the lives, struggles, accomplishments and unexpected moments of these 50 extraordinary women. They come across as accessible and relatable. I learned so much, and I know that will be true for everyone who reads it. In our self-promoting culture, this incredible book is a welcome breath of fresh air.

To celebrate today's launch of this fantastic book, Michelle is giving away some nifty prizes on her blog today here. Be sure to stop by!

Also, Michelle has graciously provided me with a copy to give away! Leave a comment on this post telling me the name of your “heroine” of the faith – she could be someone you know in real life or even one of the women from this very book or just someone you’ve studied or read. I’ll draw a winner randomly on September 18 and notify you by email (so make sure you include an email address in your comment).

Blessings and happy reading!


Michelle is also the author of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband and two young boys. You can connect with Michelle on her blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Pastors, Will You Forgive Us?

Pastors have a high and difficult calling.

There are few things that boil my blood faster or put me on a soap box quicker than when I hear God's people hurling mean-spirited or spiteful comments at God-loving, servant-hearted pastors. 

It gets ugly when the sheep turn on their shepherds. And Satan, along with the world, watches.


I love intentionally encouraging my pastors. When I see them at some evening function during the week ― whether it's Bible class, a ministry event, or worship team rehearsal ― I'm fully aware that they may have faced a particularly tough day. Chances are the enemy has lobbed some fiery darts at them, whether it's tough counseling sessions, disheartening church politics, or the death of a member.

It's a privilege to convey to my pastors and pastor friends just how important they are to God's work and His church ― to let these grace-filled men of courageous faith know how much they, their families, and their ministries mean to so many.

But I end up choking on tears.


To my pastors, all my pastor friends, and your beautiful families:

You embrace the calling that crucifies you every day. Yet sometimes we are the ones pounding in the nails.

Please forgive us.

You take up the cross of Christ without hesitation, not because it's a job, but because it's your very calling, passion and life purpose. Yet sometimes we watch from comfortable pews without lifting a finger as you stumble under the weight of that responsibility alone.

Please forgive us.

You love us enough to sacrifice family time, cut short vacations, and be on call 24-7-365. Yet when you need to unplug and allow God to recharge you, we haughtily demand that you re-engage and make yourself available.

Please forgive us.

When life blindsides us with loss, relationship difficulties, health scares, or financial burdens, you are the first to offer prayer and call in the posse to help. Yet when you need us, we wear busyness as a badge to dodge.

Please forgive us.

You willingly live in a glass house with our faces pressed against it, gracefully shouldering our smart aleck remarks. Yet when you lovingly ask us accountability questions, our self-righteous indignation could choke God Almighty.

Please forgive us.

But I want to you know...

You are not expendable.

You are VITAL.
You are LOVED.

As you stand at the vanguard of deadly spiritual warfare, it's an amazing privilege to stand in God's army with you. To heartily encourage you when you're weary. And to follow where God calls you to lead.

THANK YOU for your integrity and tireless commitment.

Church, when was the last time you prayed for your pastors?
C'mon, Church, let's encourage our pastors today.
What say you?

When We Need Answers to Life's Toughest Questions

Over the past month, I have been asked some very tough questions. They were not asked flippantly, but from people genuinely trying to understand long-term pain and suffering. You know, those questions that cause us to question God, His motives, and for some, even His very existence.

Courageously facing hard questions and digging for answers is an integral part of our spiritual growth process. These questions stem from either our own painful experiences or from watching loved ones struggle. Wrestling in prayer and poring through Scripture, we try to make sense of life's most gut-wrenching questions, like:

1) If God hates homosexuality, why did God make me gay?

2) If God creates every life for a purpose, why does He allow abortion?

3) I try so hard to follow God and His Word, but alcoholism is winning. Why won't He answer my prayer to remove that addiction? I'm ready to give up.

4) Am I supposed to love all people -- even those who turn their back on God or don't even acknowledge His existence?

Such difficult questions cause us to seek answers and engage in meaningful conversations within our communities and with people who may not think like we do. And those are GOOD things. Some Christians prefer to avoid such questions altogether (I used to be one) because they are volatile topics. But how does avoidance of learning help us engage with our culture in order to maintain a respected voice? (Think of Daniel during his Babylonian captivity.)

Individual opinions vary with the weather, so we need GOD's answers. He created us and this crazy big world we live in. He alone holds the owner's manual. Addressing tough questions openly with love and grace is essential because the hurt behind them can derail our faith walk or cause us to write off whole groups of people.

My prayer is that by honestly and gracefully walking through these sensitive issues in the light of Scripture, we can grow in faith and understanding together.

Beginning later this Fall, we'll be discussing these hard questions in a series that I fervently pray will be spiritually and relationally helpful.  

NOTE: I will carefully monitor the comments section to ensure the conversations remain respectful and grace-filled. I will remove any comments that are intentionally inflammatory, hurtful, or judgmental. This needs to be a safe place to maintain helpful dialogue about the issue at hand.

Several people have already submitted excellent questions on my Facebook page and I would love to include yours. So, here goes:

If you were able to personally ask God ONE question, what would you ask?