Wow…

First of all, please allow me to apologize for not posting in MONTHS. I should explain quickly that I have moved to a new state, started a new full-time job, and basically begun a new life. I’m living with friends (very little down time or alone time) and I’m currently in the middle of a huge spiritual battle! So I can honestly say I’ve been a bit busy the last few months. It doesn’t excuse me for not writing, but I feel like it’s necessary to tell you what God has been doing in my life–and let you know I’m going to try to post more often!

First, one of the things that I had been praying and pondering over was the mercy male part of my life. I wrote that intense series a few months ago that began with a dream about Chris Evans and ended with me asking what the Lord’s  will was for me with mercy males. I think I have reached a really great conclusion on that–which I feel compelled to share in its own blog post. It’s coming soon, I promise!

Second, I’m so excited that I have this awesome new job where I am in a position of influence–and I never thought I would be there. If there is one area I would’ve told you I never wanted to work, this is it. But isn’t God funny? He threw me into a government position. Bless the Lord, oh my soul. 😊 If anyone was not made for government work, it is me. But the Lord knows better–He is in charge, not me, so we will see where it leads. 

And third, I can’t blog and not mention how amazing the Lord is and how He has totally provided for me during this transitional time in my life. When I decided to trust Him and make this move, it was unreal how He moved every little piece to cover every single thing I needed. I will likely blog a whole series about Jehovah Jireh, My Provider. Because if you don’t know him, I want you to!

Lastly, I definitely want to note how incredible it is when you speak into the areas of someone’s life and watch your prayers for them blossom and give a great reward. This happened to me recently. Being an identity coach who can see deeply into the lives of others can be burdensome or rewarding. I choose the latter.

One more thing: few things have surprised and blessed me more than the new church I’ve been attending. The pastor preached on pornography and sexual sin this past week, and he included women in the topic. This energized and encouraged me, and I was able to begin a conversation with him and his wife regarding helping women who struggle in this area. After years of desiring to see this happen in my former church, I can’t tell you how excited I am that this conversation is happening after being at my new church only a few months. Praise the Lord!

This is just a brief overview of things that are happening, so just you wait. New things will be happening with this website and ministry, and you will be hearing more from me soon. Thank you for hanging in with me during the transition!

The Envious Eye

envious eye by nirots

image courtesy of nirots / freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve been really discouraged and frustrated lately about being single. The older I get, the more it becomes a real threat that I won’t have a husband or family. I know God calls some people to singleness, but I have never felt that call on my life. In addition, the Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:9, “But if they cannot control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.” And believe me folks, especially in the last few months: I’ve been on FIRE, out of control, and more than a little ticked at God about the whole thing.

For Christmas, my bosses gave me some little hand lotions and a spa gift card. Now, I don’t use conventional hand lotions because of all the chemicals, but these were really nice sets of lotions and I wanted them to go to a good home. So I stopped by a few offices on my way through the building last Friday, eager to give out these little lotions to some friends and coworkers. At the last office, I stopped and gave the last few lotions to the two secretaries that I always chat with when I visit that office. They were excited to have such a nice, little gift and very thankful that I thought of them.

As the two secretaries were sampling the lotions, another girl—we will call her Gina—came out from her private office and asked what everyone was doing. One of the secretaries answered, “Oh, Michelle brought us some lotions.” Immediately, Gina began to make a big deal about how I didn’t bring her anything, and I should have shared with her and not just these two girls, ad nauseam. When I pointed out to her that I was the giver, and she did not get to dictate who I gave anything to, she got even more incensed. I also noted to her that I had given her really nice gifts in the past, and she replied that that was “a couple of years ago.” I also pointed out to her that she had acted in this way before when I gave something to someone else—she had come in and started taking things that I had purposed for someone else. She then stated that the person I had given those things to had WANTED to share them with everyone. At this point, the two secretaries were so undone at how Gina was acting that they offered up their lotions to her. Then she made a big deal of not accepting them because that wasn’t what I wanted. The whole situation was totally embarrassing for Gina, even if she didn’t realize it or think so.

As for me personally, I was livid, really. You see, I had given to Gina in the past, and I felt it was pretty crappy and ungrateful for her to interrupt a thoughtful moment with her incredibly selfish banter. I was mad mostly because Gina is a Christ follower, and that kind of nonsense makes believers look incredibly petty—it was trial size hand lotions, for crying out loud. As I was recalling the situation and my anger to my mother, I said, “My gosh, does Gina act this way when God gives someone else something that He doesn’t give her? Because that would explain a lot!”

A few hours later, as I was stewing and trying to pray about this matter, God nudged me about that particular comment. He said very clearly to me, “But Michelle, isn’t that how YOU think? Don’t you believe that I should give you a husband and kids? Don’t you look at other people and go, they have a husband and kids, why don’t I?”

And that hurt. Because (as always) He was absolutely right.

I tend to believe that I am not all that selfish, but it’s really not true. My selfishness comes out in different ways—in fact, I act towards God like Gina did to me. I may not do it over hand lotion, but recently, I’ve definitely been doing it over getting a new job, having my own place, moving to a warmer state, and having that elusive family/husband. And though the Lord has provided so much for me—both now and in the past, I tend to interrupt any kind of thanksgiving with my own selfish banter about what I want and need right now that He has not given me. Or what someone else has that I want. And when God gave me a brief glimpse into that, I was embarrassed—this time, for myself.

Matthew 20 begins with a parable about a vineyard owner who is searching for laborers to work his fields. He hires three sets of laborers at three different times during the day, and each group he agrees to pay a denarius. The other groups are not aware of what each is getting paid. So imagine the anger of the first and second group when the third group gets paid exactly what the first two are getting paid. The owner doesn’t want to hear their grumbling. He is basically like, “Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? So then take your money and go.” But then he says something that catches my eye and rifles through my heart like a shot: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15)

This is the point that I tried to relay to Gina, and it’s the point that God in turn relayed to me. Gina had an envious eye, but so do I—and maybe you do, too. Wanting something that God hasn’t decided to give me yet isn’t the sin. The sin is seeing God’s generosity in other people’s lives and being envious that those gifts haven’t been given to me. It’s okay for me to want to be married and have kids and to have my own place, etc.—as long as I don’t want those things more than I want Jesus, as long as wanting those things doesn’t become the focal point of my life, as long as those wants aren’t what compel me. Seeing others get what I think I deserve—that is the real sin. What I truly deserve is death. Anything I get beyond that is gravy!

Mostly, I need to make sure I am taking pains to pluck out the envious eye every time it surfaces and regrows in my life. Because when you have an envious eye, you’re not going to see anything the way it really is—you’re only going to see what you didn’t get or what you don’t have. And by doing so, you’ll miss out on the real blessings God is showering you with every single day.

Breaking Bad: The Purpose

image courtesy of sattva / freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of sattva / freedigitalphotos.net

Maybe you’re wondering how this all fits together.

My original desire to break bad, which erupted after a difficult year, led to a crisis of conscience in many ways. Quite honestly, for those six weeks, I was perfectly fine with falling back into all those (lust) sins that so easily entangle. It can be difficult being single in today’s world, especially as part of the church. I’m not one of those single Christian women who is going to sugarcoat how hard it is by telling you that I quote Bible verses that keep me going and bring me back on track. It just doesn’t happen all of the time. Sometimes, Scripture consoles me and brings me understanding and wisdom. But when it comes to my purity and singleness struggles, I find very little solace in the Word. I’m not afraid to admit that, because I think God meets me in my honesty. In addition, Christians in general are terrible at comforting singles. Save for one, my married friends are collectively the most terrible people in the world at understanding my single girl struggles. It’s like they forgot what it’s like to be single in a sex-crazed world. Friends who have been married only a couple of years—and who three years ago were crying next to me—have taken up spouting verses and Christian idioms at me when I struggle with remaining pure and being good. So I have stopped confiding in them about my issues, because even when I tell them nicely that they’re not helping, they still fall back on those outdated practices.

Save for one. There is that one married Christian woman who helped to bring me back from the edge of breaking bad. She listened. She cried with me. She shared her own struggles with loneliness in her marriage—not to distract or compare, but to share that she struggles, too. And she never once shared a Bible verse or beat me down with the Bible—she only promised to pray for me and to encourage me. And I know that she did—because the day I confided in her about wanting to be bad and cried with her about being single and the day she began to pray for me is the day I met God in a worship song as I cried over Chris Evans’ mercy soul.

You see, there’s this delicate balance between our sin struggles, God’s grace, and our calling. I think, in many ways, that breaking bad is where much of our PureID™ is formed and found. Our sin struggles are where God meets us, where He talks to us about our identity as He is purifying us, where He places a call on our lives to bring others to Him in specific ways. It’s where He begins the refining process, even if we’re not ready. I’m not “fine” with my sin anymore—but I’m also not beating myself up about it like I used to. In essence, I think I’m beginning to understand grace more simply by being broken for the mercy male.

I wish I could tell you what this means for me and mercy males—but I don’t know. Here’s what I do know: I know that I haven’t quite broken bad yet. I am still struggling with daydreaming and lust. But for the first time in the midst of this struggle, I have felt the Lord draw closer to me. I’ve had the Spirit intercede for me with words and groans that I don’t understand. And last night, I prayed in depth for all the mercy males I’ve known in my life, and I prayed for the ones I don’t know—like Chris Evans. After I finished, I tried to fall asleep but couldn’t for three miserable hours—and God tenderly let me know that it was because I wasn’t finished praying for them. Once I did (at 12:30 a.m.!), sleep came easily.

I want to know what’s next in my calling to the mercy male more than anyone. But I believe wholeheartedly in Luke 16:10, which says that whoever is faithful in the little things will be faithful in the large things. I also believe in the parable of the talent, that when God entrusts us with something—small or large, He is the one who will multiply it, if we are faithful and we trust Him. And though it isn’t “little” at all, I think that, right now, my job is simply to pray and intercede for the mercy male—all of them, some of them, one of them. Where that leads next, I don’t know. But I now know that if you allow God to work even amidst your greatest sins and struggles, your breaking bad can lead to His greater good.

Breaking Bad: The Introduction

image courtesy of akeeris / freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of akeeris / freedigitalphotos.net

I think that, after that last blog, it’s really important for me to talk about the mercy male in general and who he is. Otherwise, when I say things like, “mercy males really struggle,” you aren’t going to have a clue what I mean.

I’ve blogged about the spiritual gifts before (read about mercy gift here), but it was short and sweet, just to give you an indication about each gift. But I want to go into the mercy male in depth—in what might even be a longer blog than normal because…I’ve always been a bit inclined towards the mercy male. Ever since I started studying spiritual gifts, I have believed that there isn’t enough research and study on the mercy male. While the mercy qualities extend to mercy-gifted females as well, because this post is about the mercy male, I’m only going to refer to males. It’s because mercy males are so beautiful and intricate, and yet so misunderstood and probably struggle more than any other gift.

I don’t want to cover every single characteristic of the mercy gift here—there are many. But I do want to focus on enough of them that you understand who mercy males are. So allow me to introduce you to the mercy male:

Mercy males are those guys that you can talk to about anything. They are highly sensitive and beautifully emotional, and thus, they attract tons of female friends and usually have very few male friends. In fact, though they have a large number of acquaintances, they find connection with only a select few. They don’t like conflict and get along with everyone—they rarely have enemies. They want to make everyone comfortable at all times—make sure everyone is having a good time. They really like connecting with others, but not just a surface connection: they long for deep, intimate connections with others—intimacy of soul as well as physical touch. They desire hugs and physical contact. In other words, these are the kind of guys that need to be friends with their exes.

Mercy males want to talk about their feelings, but they must be given time to process those feelings. Mercy males actually receive and process information uniquely–a free-flow, circular expression as opposed to the logic-driven, left-brained other gifts. They need a lot of processing time for several reasons: first, mercy gifts process everything through their emotions, which takes longer. In addition, they don’t like hurting people at all—so they will take their time making decisions to make sure they’re not choosing sides or causing pain to anyone involved. Thanks to their detailed emotional processing, they also have deeper and better understanding, insight, and wisdom than the other gifts. And yet, so many times I have seen a truth in a mercy’s life, and I have said it, only to have a mercy come back to me MONTHS later and say, “Remember when you said…” They can’t be pressed for information they haven’t fully processed yet…and still, they always are.

Most mercy males are incredibly artistic and creative (Hollywood is full of mercy males!), whether it is music, art, dance, cooking, performing, or even all of the above. This is partially due to their free-flowing expressive nature and combines beautifully with the way they receive and process emotionally. (Chris Evans, by the way, is an actor—and a dancer, and a musician, and an artist, and a director.) This is not to say that all artists and creative men are mercy males, nor does it imply that mercy males are only artists and musicians, etc. Instead, the mercy male can be found anywhere from the business world to the auto shop to the tech field. I know a mercy male who is an incredibly talented mechanic…this is because mercy gifts have an incredible understanding of how the parts work together to make the whole, and they bring alignment where things are “out of whack.” This mercy mechanic brings his creativity and expressive nature into his work every day and produces an incredible product for his customers. Mercy males are given this creativity and eye for beauty for specific reasons in the church—worship. Worship is crucial and worship is in the mercy DNA.

Mercy males may feel shunned in a society that expects men to dominate everything. In fact, most mercy males don’t even want to be mercy males. They may accept facets of their gift (like sensitivity) but many desire the more “manly” gifts like prophet or administrator. I once had a mercy male tell me that he wanted my prophet gift—he wanted to be bold and to have my decisiveness. He wanted those things because our society has told mercy males that they are not manly enough. He had struggled his entire life with having his sexuality questioned, simply because he was a mercy gift.

And that’s the plight of the mercy male. How do they deal with all these emotions they have and having to process everything through those emotions? How do they deal with the sensitivity, the emotional burden they often “bear” for others? How do they deal with the need for physical touch and intimacy? How do they deal with these seemingly “female” characteristics in a world yelling at them to be more “manly”? Having been built for worship of God, how do mercy males deal with the need to worship and connect with the Lord–especially if they don’t know Him? Unfortunately, too many mercy males deal with their gift in unhealthy ways. They are often left with deep anxiety that transcends what the other gifts may know or understand—anxiety from not knowing how to deal with their large emotional capacity, anxiety over how to deal with the expectations society has for them that does not take into account their incredible gifting. They struggle with sexuality in many different ways—homosexuality, excessive promiscuity, extreme sexual practices to fill the need for physical touch and intimacy. They suffer from substance abuse issues more than any other gift—substances to numb the emotions and pain they don’t want or understand, to help them be “more like” the other six gifts and think logically. They struggle with identity issues more than any other gift—wanting to be someone they are not. They feel misunderstood more than any other gift—because they haven’t connected in worship with their true Creator who understands them completely and designed them to be exactly as they are. The struggle is real for mercy males.

I’ve consistently asked God to break my heart for the things that break His, and this time, God has obliged. This time, my heart is breaking bad for the mercy male.

Breaking Bad: The Sin

image courtesy of Staurt Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Woah. Did I just dream about Chris Evans?

I woke up that morning in a daze. I was at the beach with my friends, trying to relax after a horrible summer (year, really) at work. My mind had enough to think and worry about…so why did I just dream about Chris Evans?

I don’t even know that much about him. Pretty sure I hated him after seeing Fantastic Four (loved the movie, but I remember thinking it wasn’t too much of a stretch for him to play the obnoxious Johnny Storm—which is mean, but you know, prophet here). I’m a huge fan of the Avengers, but Cap is not my favorite Avenger by any stretch—I waited to see the two Captain America movies on TV, and I hadn’t seen much else with him in it. This isn’t like in last April when I couldn’t stop dreaming about Alex Ovechkin because I was watching tons of hockey and the playoffs were consuming me. No, this was weird—I don’t even know what could have possibly triggered me to dream about Chris Evans. I knew nothing about him and didn’t really want or need to.

Except that I couldn’t stop thinking about him after the dream. For four weeks, I just allowed myself to keep thinking and dreaming about him…which was, in many ways, my own personal highway to hell.

When I can’t get someone or something out of my mind, after a while, my preoccupation with it tends to drive me to research the heck out of it. For example, when I started liking hockey, I learned as much about the sport as I possibly could. I didn’t just know my team, I knew all the teams. I was a sponge, taking in everything I could. There was nothing I didn’t want to know.

So naturally, after four weeks, I needed to know who Chris Evans was. It wasn’t enough to just dream…I needed to know. And supernaturally, thankfully, that’s where God met me—because the first article I read not-so-surprisingly confirmed to me that Chris Evans is a mercy gift.

This seems like no big deal, but for me, it fell right into a pattern. Mercy and prophets are beautifully opposites that attract and need each other. I tend to draw mercy males like a moth to a flame. It’s my prophet boldness, fearlessness, and decisiveness that draws them to me. I can pick them out of a crowd with ease. Once I met a friend’s best friend and knew from the moment he looked at me that he was a mercy gift. We became fast friends, and he (of course) eventually broke my heart (as most mercy males tend to do).

Two weeks ago and six weeks into my lust-fest, I was driving to my friend’s house and listening to some worship music. The song My Beloved (amazing song!) came on, and I found myself thinking of Mr. Evans as it played. Did he know he was God’s beloved, God’s child, specifically made the way he was for a reason? I broke down into heavy tears. For the first time, I was thinking about him as God did and I began interceding for him.

As I continued praying, I distinctly heard the Lord ask me how many mercy males he has put on my heart and in my life over the years. The answer was innumerable. I couldn’t even begin to count how many mercy males I have been drawn to or have torn at my heart strings. I have consistently had bad boundaries with them and experienced heartbreak at their hands. So many mercy males have been a part of my life. And then the Lord asked me very loudly, very clearly, and very pointedly: “And how many of them have you prayed for instead of lusting after?”

OUCH.

(The answer was very few.)

This was the moment that God began breaking bad in me.

Breaking Bad: The Call

It’s tough being a prophet.Prayer Rock Word

(For those who haven’t read my other blogs, my redemptive/motivational spiritual gift is prophet. Read more about it here.)

What was I saying? Oh right. It sure is tough being a prophet.

So many times, I see truth in someone’s life and I just want to tell them. I don’t even have to know them—I can know just enough about them to see their struggles and know their pain. I don’t think I know everything, but I do know people…and I use what I know and what God shows me to see truth before it plays out in their lives. It’s a terribly awesome gift to have—if you understand how God wants you to use it. I can “see” into situations and see truth about others, which in retrospect should be a gift that brings joy not only to myself but to others.

But the part of this gift that I always, always forget about is the call to prayer. Every single redemptive/motivational gift of prophet is called to intercede for others. In fact, the downloads we receive from God about others, those truths that we can plainly see, those things are not things we are to always say or dwell upon—they are given to us so that we can give them back to the Lord in prayer. And as someone who likes to be right and sometimes likes others to know it🙂, I have a very, very difficult time doing this.

It’s not that I’m not learning at all. Last year, I met with someone and left the meeting thinking that this unhealthy person was going to wreak havoc on their church in some ridiculous way. I could have met with the pastor of their church and told him what I believed was going to happen based on the person’s unhealthiness. I could have called the person out about their unhealthy behavior. (These are the two things that I usually do when I get revelations or insight about someone.) Instead, I decided to just pray for them—that’s what I felt led to do. Oh, this person still wrecked a ministry in their church…but I didn’t feel ownership of the issue because I had prayed about it and prayed for the person. I had done what God had asked me to do. And I felt peaceful about it.

But unfortunately, that’s the exception and not the rule—at least for me. And what’s worse is that many times, the Lord will plant a dream or thought of someone in my head, and I will forget about prayer and run in the wrong direction with it—and what I mean by this is that instead of praying for the person, I will do the opposite. I will either dismiss it and forget about them completely, or I will begin thinking about them obsessively, especially if it’s a guy. And I know that, looking back on my life, I have wasted many opportunities to pray for someone who the Lord has laid on my heart because I thought they were in my head for a different reason. I have lost the opportunity to pray for someone AND I have objectified them in some way. What the Lord means for good, your flesh and the devil will always try to pervert and destroy—and even though I know this, I still let it happen. What’s amazing, though, is that what the devil intends for harm, the Lord can still use for good. He can redeem ANYTHING and ANYONE.

Eight weeks ago, I had a dream about Captain America star Chris Evans, and the repercussions of these last eight weeks have helped me to realize how I can begin to cultivate an important part of my calling. But more incredibly, it’s been instrumental in the birth of breaking bad. More soon.

Breaking Bad: The Problem

image courtesy of jscreationzs / freeditigalphotos.net

image courtesy of jscreationzs / freeditigalphotos.net

There’s a whole slew of people for whom being good is first nature. They want to be good people; they don’t tire of doing the right thing; their natural position is to desire holiness. When they sin, they are grieved by it. There’s only reveling when there’s reconciliation with their God. They may struggle with something, but it’s a brief struggle and then joy returns as they know they’ve overcome. They love being good because it brings them closer to holiness, closer to righteousness, closer to the Lord.

Then there’s me. I just wanna be bad.

It’s not that I don’t desire to be good and be godly; sometimes, I do. But sometimes (right now being one of those times), I don’t want to be a good person. I don’t want to be godly or holy, I don’t want to do the right thing, and I don’t want to represent Christ in my actions. In fact, right now, I think it’s safe to say that I want to be the exact opposite of godly. Yeah, that’s right Willa Ford—I get what you were feeling. I don’t want to be evil, killing innocent children or anything like that. But I do want to be a little dirty, a little crazy, and a lot self-indulgent. And I know there are other people out there who feel just like me, because I have been talking around to others and trying to find if there are others like me. And they freely admit it.

I go through this every now and again, where the desire to be bad outweighs my desires to do anything that honors the Lord. My motto right now is, “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” And what’s worse is that this desire plays itself out in my daily decisions. I’m not going to sit here and tell you what the cause is (it’s just sin, quite honestly—human nature, flesh) or how to fix this; I’m just here to tell you that if you’ve ever felt this way, I understand. I’m there right now. The struggle is REAL.

This isn’t one of those times where I have done something wrong and I regret it—this isn’t every day living and every day sin. This is one of those intense struggles with my flesh where I don’t want to be good and I’m not even trying. I’m watching things I shouldn’t watch, thinking about things I shouldn’t think about, and indulging in my fleshly desires—whatever they may be. I don’t have discipline and quite frankly, I don’t want it. Interestingly enough, I’m doing my devotions every day, I’m praying and going to church, and I’m fellowshipping with other Christians. I’m just being very honest with everyone about where I’m at: I want to be bad, and there’s nothing anyone can do to convince me that being good is the better alternative right now.

So why am I blogging about this? Because I think there are more people out there struggling like this than there are struggling about the fact that they said a bad word or had a fight with their spouse or had an impure thought. I’m not saying those things aren’t struggles or that they aren’t real. They most definitely are. But this here, this hardcore struggle against flesh and blood, this is where the rubber meets the road. And nobody is talking about it (except maybe the guys from Bad Christian Podcast, and God bless them). So I want to be a voice crying out in the wilderness…I’m struggling, man, and I want to share it with you so that if you’re struggling like this, you know that you’re not alone. And maybe together, we can start breaking this desire to be bad. Lord willing.🙂

Pardon My Hiatus…

ID-10062977

image courtesy of digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

Oh friends, it’s been a crazy 2015. I didn’t plan on taking such a long break from blogging and writing, but it happened nonetheless, and I am truly sorry for such a prolonged absence online. I have been coaching and also working full-time at a job I don’t really love while looking to move down south away from a climate I don’t love (snow?! NO!). I have been helping a friend with her kids due to a herniated disc in her back. (Yes, me! With kids! I’m really awesome with them, haha!)  I have been tired.

But most importantly, I have been learning several tough but necessary lessons about my life, about my gift (and all the gifts), about the Lord. The most recent one was yesterday…and I plan to share much of it with you over the next several weeks. I’m going to delve back into the spiritual gifts, because they are so much a part of who we are and who God created us to be…and because I KNOW they are such a large part of my calling and my passion. Your spiritual gifts are, perhaps, the most important part of your PureID™. So I am going to talk about them and share more and more about them with you.

I look forward to being back here with you–and perhaps even sharing shorter posts more frequently–very, very soon!

I Surrender

ID-10027894I haven’t purposefully been avoiding blogging or anything like that…I think I wrote a blog and let you know that I was just stepping back and trying to get my focus in the right place. I also needed to prioritize…and let me just tell you, when you plan to prioritize and put God in His rightful place in your life, stuff happens–and it’s not always good stuff.

The last two months, I have really found myself struggling–caught up in the “sins that so easily entangle.” After a solid six months of not daydreaming, there I was, caught up in my thoughts. I have no idea how it happened…I just know that I kept entertaining them until it was too late.

I’ve never been here to tell you that I have it all together, because obviously I don’t. But I am here to tell you that when you decide to surrender to the Spirit, you will be attacked–not just by Satan, but by your own flesh who “does the things you don’t want to do.” Paul was right. The Christian life is a struggle…but thank God for grace!

The issue with me, though, isn’t that I fell: the issue is that I feel like I fell harder than most. In truth, I didn’t. God sees my sins as no bigger or smaller than any other sins; I’m the one who has the issues seeing them for what they really are. And even worse, I am the one who has the problems forgiving, forgetting, and moving forward. I allow myself to stay down, to remain entangled, to stay distant from God during those times instead of accepting forgiveness that’s offered and moving forward. But the issue is bigger than just my sin: the issue is that I think I can conquer sin on my own.

I CAN’T.

I know that’s not a surprise, but it has been and remains a hard pill for me to swallow. If I can’t do anything to conquer my sin–if I can’t behave better, make covenants, control my circumstances, try to be the best possible me–then what can I do? I mean, I guess…

I CAN SURRENDER.

I don’t even know that I’m aware of what true surrender looks like, because I don’t know that I’ve truly ever surrendered my struggles to the Lord. But I do know that I want to explore what that looks like over the next few posts. I don’t know how frequent they will be, but I do know that I want to talk about it, because while I keep trying new things to keep me from sinning, I know that they are just stop gaps to the true surrender and acceptance of grace that I’m called to. I know it’s something we all struggle with, and I know it’s something we need to talk about more in the church. At some point, I have to recognize that I can’t do it–I can’t do ANYTHING, and that only God can. So starting today…I surrender.

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I Surrender (Hillsong):

Here I am
Down on my knees again
Surrendering all
Surrendering all

Find me here
Lord as You draw me near
Desperate for You
Desperate for You

I surrender

Drench my soul
As mercy and grace unfold
I hunger and thirst
I hunger and thirst

With arms stretched wide
I know You hear my cry
Speak to me now
Speak to me now

I surrender
I surrender
I wanna know You more
I wanna know You more

Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me

Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me

Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me

I surrender
I surrender
I wanna know You more
I wanna know You more

Questions, Christians, and 50 Shades of Grey

questions by Stuart MilesI’m not going to see 50 Shades of Grey. I think that, if you’ve read my testimony and followed my blog, you know that for me to see that would be incredibly hypocritical. I did not read the books, and I am not following the hype. But I am on social media, and I know people are excited about it—even many Christians. And I don’t understand that. I have been reading comments on social media from Christians who are going to see the movie, and trying to understand their reasons for doing so. In response, bear with me as I ask some questions to get us thinking—and praying.

Some Christians have claimed that it is a redemptive love story—because Christian Grey comes from a very dark past, and eventually, this young lady saves him from that dark past. I understand redemption, because the best redemptive love story can be found in the Bible—and because I have lived through redemption myself. I was very lost in a world of porn and addiction to sexual promiscuity, so I do somewhat understand that about Christian Grey. But my question is this: does a love story of redemption need to include lewd and graphic sexual content to tell the story? In other words, do you need to see a video of my sexual escapades in order for me to tell my story of redemption? Of course not. If I posted a video of myself having sex with someone as part of my story here, Christians would RIGHTLY be enraged. But some of these same Christians will go into a movie theater and watch lewd sexual situations in this movie because “it is part of the characters’ redemptive love story.” Both situations are pornography. One is more acceptable by Christians. My brothers, this should not be so.

The other aspect to the “redemptive love story” claim is the idea of trying to present darkness as light. I have done this a lot in the past to justify my decision to do something I know is not increasing my Christlikeness. But I am reminded of a few things from God’s Word. First, the devil presents lies as truth and darkness as light. In Genesis 3, that is exactly how he deceived Adam and Eve. Even today, he continues as the great deceiver who packages some aspect of the light (it’s a redemptive love story) around darkness (it’s also full of sexual deviance and mistreatment). He is, of course, the father of lies. And the Bible is very clear that Satan and his servants disguise themselves as angels of light and servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14). So my question is this: have you been fooled into believing that this movie’s darkness is light?

I have also seen many Christians who will see this movie claim, “you can’t judge me,” “don’t judge me,” or “only God can judge me.” Interestingly enough, Matthew 7:1 is American Christianity’s favorite Bible verse to quote. American Christians, in my opinion, don’t believe they should be held accountable for the choices they make. And that is simply not true. To judge is to hand down the verdict as to whether or not you are guilty and I give you a sentence based on your guilt. And it’s true—only God can do that. But when there’s a standard or a law that you obviously don’t live up to, then I can and should point that out and lovingly correct you. Paul even gave us the how-to guide for that in Galatians (6:1, and chapter 2 when he lived it out). In fact, most of Paul’s letters were written to point out blatant sin in the church—but Paul was not God, so should we disregard most of the New Testament? Of course not! As fellow believers, we do indeed have not only the right but the responsibility to lovingly hold each other accountable for our sins, including impurity, lewdness, pornography, and fornication—all things represented in the movie 50 Shades of Grey. And that’s why we need to think before we say, “don’t judge me.” But my question is: would you even need to say “don’t judge me” if you weren’t doing something that you knew was not in line with Scripture?

I can’t tell anyone what choice to make, but I can tell those who claim to be believers what the Bible says. It says to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), to think on pure things, to be pure as God is pure. We don’t do these things because we are prudes, we do them because we want to please God with our actions and our thoughts. We do them because our example, Jesus Christ, would. God’s will for every believer is simple: Christlikeness (see Genesis through Revelation). So my question is: how does seeing this movie contribute to your Christlikeness? Because that is the question we should be asking ourselves—not just about this movie, but about everything we say and do.

I pray that Christians will begin to stand up for Jesus Christ and the Holy Word, not Christian Grey and Hollywood.

Read more awesome coverage about reasons to skip 50 Shades of Grey here, here, and here, or check out an awesome book about Christian women and our awesome sexuality “Pulling Back the Shades” by Dannah Gresh here.