a tough question {and trusting God with our reputation}

Here’s the story. I regularly cut my boys’ hair. Because I’m cheap. So the other day — on hair-cutting day — my son asked if I would shave a lightning bolt into the side of his head. I hesitated with all those motherly questions like, “Are you sure? Why do you want a lighting bolt?” And finally landed in the camp of “it’s just hair”. So I said yes.

Shortly after his lightning bolt engraving, he went downstairs and got this temporary tattoo of a snake coiled around a sword that he had found on the ground last week and he put that baby on the back of his neck. So now his head is shaved semi-mohawkish. He has a lightning bolt on one side. And there’s a temporary tattoo of a fanged snake on his neck. I looked like mom of the year, fo’ sho’.

 

trusting God with our reputation

 

So then I had a little talk with him about how what we put on our bodies says stuff to the world. Like my own tattoos — gasp, gulp. Yes, I have tattoos ’cause I’m hard-core drivin’ my mini-van around town rappin’ about Jesus. Anyway, I was explaining that my (visible) tattoos all point to my faith in Jesus so it gives me opportunity to talk about Him to the world.

Then I asked what that lightning bolt could say to the world about God. He thought for a minute and said that it could point to God’s POWER! Then I think he growled. Next I asked him about that snake with the sword tattoo. He thought for a minute and decided to scrub it off. And then later informed me that when he gets big he wants a tattoo down his whole arm that says “G-O-D”. We’ll have a conversation about that one later.

So that’s what happened. But here’s the text I got from my sister last night. (FYI: “Luke” is my brother-in-law)

 

Luke: is your sister on drugs?
My sister: What??? NO!
Luke: She cut a lightning bolt in Bryson’s hair.
My sister: Yeah cause he asked her to. What’s the big deal? It’s just hair.
Luke: Bryson told me, “Mom wanted to do it for God’s power.” I was just imagining some hippy trips going on over there.

 

Yep. That’s now the reputation that goes before me. I am on drugs and write messages in all my kids’ heads. Nice to meet you.

After I died laughing. I remembered that I already had this post ready to publish for today. And the story fit perfectly. Because God has me asking myself a really tough question these days. Really tough. So if you’re wanting it to be a pleasant, no conviction type of day then you may want to just click away now. I’m warning you. This one may rock your little Tuesday boat like it has rocked mine.

OK brave ones, here it is…

 

What, if taken away,
would make me feel as if my life was over?

(or at least make me feel devastated)

 

In other words, what or who do I depend upon for my identity other than Jesus. What do I need to work out as planned in order to live a life marked by peace and joy? Granted, God is tender to our human perspective and our human pain. And things can definitely be very sad in this world. And He meets us there in the midst of our griefs and disappointments. But what, other than Him, do I think I need to live?

Sweet people, pondering that question has brought me to my face — literally. Like there was dog hair from the carpet stuck to my forehead. Because let’s just call it what it is. Depending on anything or anyone other than Jesus for our life is idolatry. And I have approximately 143 idols that I’m tempted to worship. And that makes me feel sick. And that makes me ever-thankful for grace.

 

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
Matthew 6:24a

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Galatians 1:10

 

So what is one thing that God is showing me that I depend upon or at least look to for some solace? YOU! Yep. You. Ok, so I don’t have you bronzed and sitting on my mantle with incense smoking up my living room. But one idol that my heart leans toward is you! Specifically what you think about me, a.k.a. my reputation.

Not that you’re not fantastic. You are. And not that what you think isn’t important. It is. But when my heart looks to anything or anyone other than my Jesus for my security and/or my identity, well then, I’m missing the point of life. I’m hanging with idols. And hanging with idols never gives us the life God created us to live.

Our reputation is not ultimately our responsibility. It’s not. Reputation is what people think of us. And you know what? You and I cannot and never will be able to control what people think about us. Or control what our children may say about their hair cuts. It ain’t gonna happen. Ever.

Jesus was and is perfect, holy, righteous, awesome, and love. And look at what people did to him and thought of him. Look at what people still do with Him and think of him. It’s only logical that with my many imperfect, unrighteous, less-than-awesome, and unloving moments, that any good reputation I may have is purely an act of God’s grace.

Beautiful grace.

Our beloved reputation isn’t ours to control. Our ultimate calling is to love and worship our God, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As we do, His love then flows out of us onto our corner of the world in which He places us.

Our calling is to keep our gaze set on our God, following where He leads and then trusting Him with the results. Otherwise we’ll waste the precious time He has given us worrying about and trying to straighten out what people think. Straightening out whether or not people think we’re shaving our kids’ heads with an agenda. Good grief.

I love you and God calls and leads me to serve you in love. But I can’t spend my time worrying about what you think of me. And neither can you. So I pray He empowers us to live for an audience of One today — eyes set on our good God who guides our feet with a pursuing, gracious love.

 
And for the record, I love my brother-in-law.

 
Fill me, Lord…

What are you tempted to depend upon for life other than Jesus?
 

guard. your. heart. {or there’s gonna be trouble}

HI! {This is when I would hug you if we were talking in person.} I’ve missed writing here this summer! God has definitely been busy in me — stretching me, challenging me, convicting me, and loving me.

And even though I’m still on my blogging break, I wanted to share a short, Monday, check-in post, because it feels like I have an ocean of words that I want/need/have to pour out. But I don’t want to scare you away. So here’s one thing for your Monday. Just one thing.

 

guard your heart

 

 

Guard. Your. Heart.

 

Good grief. It seems like the lies and selfishness and entitlement seep into my heart like slimy little slime-mongers before I can even stop them. Before I even notice. And they eat my brain cells. If slime-mongers were real.

 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
(Philippians 4:8 ESV)

 

To guard our heart is to take each and every thought captive to what’s true. Every angry thought. Every jealous thought. Every frustrated, bitter, irritated, frazzled, and proud thought. Every thought captive to the true things that God says.

It’s like having a big, burly bouncer guy at the door of our heart through which only helpful, loving thoughts can enter. Because when we don’t put up a guard — when the bouncer guy takes a smoke break — we will inevitably end up in places we don’t want to be. I promise. It has happened to me at various times this summer.

We will end up in pits of self-loathing or on that dreaded comparison cycle or forgetting the many, many, many evidences of God’s love and grace in our every day. We’ll end up saying things and doing things that we regret. We’ll end up hurting the people we love.

So let’s ask Him to show us what the heck we’re thinking. And then, one by one, let’s drop-kick the unloving, bitter, insecure thinking right out the door of our hearts. Through prayer and in the power of His Spirit we can replace the selfishness and bitterness and lies with truth. And when we do, it will usher in soul-blessing.

Happy Monday, sweet people.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How do you guard your own heart?
 

my podcast interview with Declare

Yes, I’m still on my summer blog-hiatus. I miss you! Your prayers are much appreciated as I continue to dig into an exciting writing project. Thank you!

But I just wanted to let you know that the Declare Conference blog has an interview with me on their podcast today. Click here to check it out. And for the record, Heather — my interviewer and friend — is hi.larious.

 

podcast interview with declare conference

 
This picture of me looks so serious. Ha. On most days, I have on yoga pants and a shirt with a hole, just for the record.

Anyway, I hope to talk to you soon!

 
Oh and while I have you here, how’s your summer going?