Monthly Archives: February 2015

our smoggy culture

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There has been a video going around Facebook this week in which Russell Brand provides some very insightful views on the effects of porn on a person. This blog isn’t about that, but you can watch it here.

This blog is instead about something Russell said in his video. He refers to things like “50 Shades of Grey” and advertisements that objectify women (Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. anyone??) as cultural smog.

Smog – smoky fog. Something you can’t see through. Something that invades your space and can cause you to get of course pretty easily.

So what Russell is saying, essentially, is that something as simple as a commercial for a Twix bar can invade our minds/hearts and throw us off course.

I would argue similar things for relationships. In friendships it could be something as simple as your coffee pal needing to reschedule because the have a flat tire that can lead you down a road of questioning if they really like you.

A boy could forget to like your Facebook status about your Bible study and suddenly it’s like you don’t even exist.

The Christian could read ‘smog’ as ‘sin’. And I believe this particular smog/sin is typically inward. It’s idolatry of the heart – placing our affections on something or someone other than Jesus.

If we aren’t careful the cultural smog that is thick in our atmosphere can overtake our lives, security, peace, and identity and completely destroy us. We can allow sin to bury who we know Jesus to be as Redeemer.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8: 1, 5-6)

To set your mind on the Spirit is to rely on His clarity in your life and trust that the smog will filter it’s way out.

A wise man once told me that all truth is God’s truth, and I believe Russell spoke truth in his video. I encourage you to watch it, especially if pornography is something you struggle with.

My prayer for the week is that God would reveal to me the smog in my life. That He would open my eyes to see clearly the sin that so easily entangles me, and that He would cleanse me of all unrighteousness.

And next week we’ll talk about being air filters in our culture and what that can look like as followers of Jesus. (Like how I keep going with the air purity analogy? Ehh…I’m kinda over it now…)

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the tricky monster that will make or break us

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Tonight I’d like to take a slight right turn off of Singles Lane and spend some time driving down Relationship Ave.

(That’s code for tonight isn’t just about dating…it’s about all sorts of relationships with all sorts of people.)

I think there’s a really powerful monster that we all carry around in our back pockets on a daily basis. We can use it to deepen relationships, it can drive us to building really thick walls around our hearts, and – I believe – we can subtly use it to manipulate people to get what we want.

I’m talking about vulnerability.

Manipulation Station:

At one time in my life I had a ‘friend’ who asked me to coffee to try to get to know me better. This person was very sweet in their meaning, but once we got in to conversation they started getting a little more vulnerable with me (to a point) then pushed until I opened up with them. Looking back, they were totally in control of the conversation. They would open up and share some “dark” part of their story with the hopes that I would share something revealing about mine. And me, in my people pleasing ways, totally played in to it. I felt that the only way to get this person to either – 1) like me, or 2) leave me alone – was to spill some of the most private parts of my life.

I left that coffee shop feeling very uneasy and used.

Looking back, I truly feel as if I was manipulated into sharing things about myself I just wasn’t ready to share.

And if I think back hard enough, chances are I’ve done that with others. I’ve used fake vulnerability – or controlled confession – to get information from people with the motive of simply having that information.

Vulnerability shouldn’t be a tool used to get some news to gossip about. It’s much too precious to use in that way.

Brick Wall:

When being vulnerable leads to us being burned, the next natural phase is to build up some pretty thick walls in order to “guard our hearts”…or simply keep others out. Just like being manipulated, I think others can abuse our vulnerability with them causing us to distrust all people. If someone burns me, it just adds to my original assumption that I can’t open up to people in general.

In relationships this can cause a HUGE issue. If I’m not willing to take down my wall – even if it’s brick by brick – then I will get NO.WHERE. fast. I cannot grow in friendship, dating relationship, sibling-hood (is that a thing?), as a family member…basically, I can’t grow if all I’m ever doing is adding to the wall around my heart, keeping me from being vulnerable.

Vulnerability – or being burned by it – shouldn’t be an excuse to keep others out. It’s much too precious to use that way.

Deep Waters:

“Connection is why we’re here. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives. (And) in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen. Really seen.” – Brené Brown

Brené isn’t a follower of Jesus. But I wholeheartedly agree with her.

Vulnerability, at it’s simplest definition, is allowing ourselves to be really seen. Deep connection occurs when we allow people to really see us. When we are truly vulnerable in the purest way.

Personally, outside of connection with Jesus, I’ve had this happen with a handful of people in my life.

And in those instances, when I have allowed myself to be really seen, it has transformed my relationships. It has opened my eyes to how life with others should work. It has challenged me to be a better sister, daughter, friend…person.

And allowing, above all, Jesus to really see me has made me more complete. It has healed the deepest parts of my soul. It has started to chip away at the bricks I’ve piled up around my heart. It has allowed greater love to well up inside me for others.

It has made me more human.

You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? (Psalm 56:8)

I love this verse. I love that God sees us. Really sees us. And we can trust Him with our vulnerability. We can let Him in and become more of our true selves.

And in turn, we can be more of our true selves with others and honestly connect. And maybe, just maybe, show Jesus to those around us by the way we love and connect with each other.

Take a few minutes to watch Brené Brown’s TED talk. Again, she isn’t a follower of Jesus, but what she says here is AWESOME!

Also, if you like what you read, would you share with someone you think might also like it?! Gracias.

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all the feels none of the reals

SNL_1581_12_Darlique_and_Barney

I’ll be the 4th person to tell you that I’m a bit emotional. If you want confirmation from the first 3, just let me know and I’ll put you in contact.

I have a tendency to let my emotions get the best of me in both good and bad ways. Emotions can make us think we’re completely invisible one day, and the person the earth rotates around the next. They can cause tremendous pride to well up inside while at the same time begin to nurse a smidgen of anxiety that’s just starting to creep its way into the mind.

Emotions can also help us to be grateful, joyful, hopeful, in awe of the world, and loved.

Emotions are funny.

The problem I find myself in on occasion is letting my emotions become my reality. A guy without a ring on his left hand shoots me an eye and precious little smile and I assume we’ll be engaged within a week. Same guy can glance past me as I’m sitting in a corner talking to a friend and I’m extremely aware of how he doesn’t even know I exist. The I sit in those feelings and lose focus of who I am in Christ. I forget that God made me an emotional person for a good purpose – not so I could dwell on a dude’s brief interaction with me.

As a single lady in the church, I think it’s also easy to get really wrapped up in what others have to say about the guys in our lives. It’s easy to listen to people telling me, “Well, you know he’s single and he really loves Jesus so you two will probably end up together,” and then fantasize about what our wedding pictures will look like.

(I should take a moment to mention here that I am highly exaggerating these instances & responses for effect. Don’t think I’m too much of a basket case.)

We need to be careful and aware of our emotions. As cliché as it might sound, we need to know that God has made each of us in unique and beautiful ways. It’s okay for me to be an emotional person, if I’m emotional in a way that moves me towards Christ and understanding who He has made me to be. It’s okay for me to be emotional if I’m becoming more aware of my neighbors & their needs, drawn into service of those around me.

It’s not okay for me to be emotional if I let anxiety, insecurity, fear, and doubt rule my life and become my reality.

Y’all, we can’t let the feels become the reals. Know that who you are in Christ will never change. He has died for you – and all of your emotions – so you can rest secure in knowing that His redemptive reality is the most true thing we can know. Let the words of Paul be your reality. Feel this deeply today:

If anyone is in Christ, (she) is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17, 18, 21)

*Watch Darlique & Barney have some fake fights here! (or are they?!)

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50 shades of no thank you

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I’m not totally sure if you’re aware of a certain movie that is coming out on a certain weekend fairly soon, but if you haven’t heard of it (or you don’t understand what I’m alluding to) then you probably don’t watch much television or listen to people talk. Maybe I’m the only eavesdropper in the crowd. I don’t know.

ANYWAYS, I will not be watching that movie. Nor will I be reading the book. (is there more than 1? Don’t know, don’t care).

And here’s why:

It paints an unhealthy picture of what sex is and sets us women up for emotional attachment to an object/ideal that will never satisfy and will ultimately leave us more empty than we could probably imagine.

Take this from someone who has struggled with romanticizing and fantasizing about love, life, intimacy, etc.

It never ends well.

If you are a woman and you’ve read these books, or have watched other movies that appeal to our physical nature, please don’t pretend to tell me that you came out on the other side for the better. You will never be able to convince me that this form of “entertainment” is nothing short of lady-porn that for whatever reason our society allows us to go crazy over.

I’ve read enough of the plot summary on wikipedia to know that, as followers of Jesus, this is something we need to stay away from.

I’m not saying this because I believe movies or books are bad. Ask anyone who knows me and you will quickly find out that I am one of the biggest movie fanatics out there.

I’m not saying this because I’m an over-the-top legalistic jerk that doesn’t believe in extravagant grace and redemption in all areas of life.

I’m saying all of this because I care about how we view intimacy. I care about the thoughts I have towards what sex should be within the covenant of marriage. I care about the marriages of my friends and that they keep their desires (deep desires) for their spouses.

I’m saying this because I care about you, and I deeply believe that you cannot expose yourself to this book/movie (or others like it…I’m talking to you, Tatum) without becoming entangled in sin. And not just sin – but sin that goes deep within oneself. Sin that can take years to work through.

Can Jesus redeem me from sins of the flesh? Absolutely. Not only can He, He has.

But should I continue to spit in His face as I pursue the idols of lust, sex, and selfish desires? Not at all.

I’m not trying to be a prude, or a legalist. I’m also not saying we should have a book burning in the fireplace to rid ourselves of these things. I realize they are part of our culture and that I shouldn’t expect people who don’t love Jesus to understand where I’m coming from.

I’m just trying to love Jesus better. And in my eyes that means staying away from the theatre next weekend.

May our eyes stay fixed on the cross, on Jesus, and may His deep, profound, and divinely intimate love be enough.

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