Need Advice? Who Do You Trust?

If there’s one thing women are really good at it’s the simultaneous delivery of sympathy and advice.

Long an advice giver myself, I’m fond of wrapping compassion, kindness and my own savvy into a tidy gift box for a friend in need, as an expression of love. The problem is, I barely understand my own life, much less yours, so who am I to tell you what to do?

77 - Happy Mother's Day

In fact, I recall once wanting something so badly, I fixated on it until I was miserable. Since my friends love me and don’t want me miserable, they helped me plot its acquisition. When I finally got it, it blew up in my face. All of us acted surprised about that, but I don’t think we were. We knew it was a bad idea, we just hoped I’d get away with it.

If ever there was a case for faith, specifically Biblical faith, that’s it. We aren’t as trustworthy or prescient as we like to think, plus we muddy our own waters with selfishness and delusion.

But God never does.

As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the Lord is tested and tried; He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him. Psalm 18:30 (AMP)

I can feel some of you fighting that because, like me for many years, you don’t believe it’s true. That’s the bad news of faith. It is, by definition, experiential and irrational. If you could prove it before committing, it wouldn’t be faith, it would be theory.

Others of you are scanning centuries of Christian behavior, the rampant abuse and misapplication of scripture, and saying  “ummmm no thank you.”

I get it. But what do you do instead? Who do you trust? I tried trusting myself but I proved unreliable. What then?

If secular wisdom is a viable alternative to Biblical wisdom, why does it appear we are devolving as a species? Why, by our clever devices, are we destroying our planet, poisoning our food, water, air and allowing poverty to plague 2/3 of the world’s population?

I’m reading a book now called The Old Testament Template. In it, author Landa Cope maintains that Moses didn’t lead the Nation of Israel out of Egypt, into the desert. He led a ragtag mess of hungry, thirsty, whining former slaves numbering in the millions, with rocks in their hands, into the desert. There, through Moses, God taught them how to be a nation. Three hundred years later, Israel was the wealthiest nation the world had ever seen. The Bible says incredible things about a free press, debt, the judiciary, art, science, education and the alleviation of systemic poverty, we just have to look.

All that to say, the God of the Bible promises big things to people who will suffer the leaps necessary to follow his advice and obey Him. There are tools available to us, and they work. They just aren’t free.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

Three Lessons On Love From Pensacola

First City Church

As some of you know, I was asked to speak at First City Church in Pensacola, Florida last weekend with my friend Lisa Long (read what others have to say about her here.)

I don’t know if you have ever preached a sermon, from an actual pulpit, with people in pews staring expectantly at you, but I can tell you this:

I have strapped a parachute to my back, run down the side of a mountain and jumped off it, and that was nothing compared to preaching. You can listen to the whole sermon here but if you don’t have time, here are three things I learned:

This is them!

This is them!

1. Your heart is more important than my opinion. All kinds of people go to First City – gay people, wealthy people, drug addicts and people with checkered pasts who’ve wandered back after years away. Pastor Rick Hazelip and his team embody what Bob Goff said again and again at the Love Does Stuff Conference  – “You are not just invited here, you are welcome.”

So when tackling hard things with people who are groping around for Jesus, Pastor Rick’s framework is this:

Your heart is more important than my opinion. So I’m going to protect it while we talk about this. For with the measure I deal out to you, it will be measured back to me. I am not your judge, I am your witness to a life that is available in Jesus Christ.

This church hums with the love and mercy of God.

2. It’s not about me. While I was busy peeing my pants with fear during worship, the Lord reminded me of Zechariah 4:6. How’s that for obscure? See what a scholar I am? Wrong. It was written on the back of the SCRUBS Medical Mission t-shirts all of us wore every day in Zambia.

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

Oh yah, I thought, I just have to get up there, open my mouth and let him fill it. I walked up to that pulpit with no pee on my dress.

3. If you’re preaching about Jesus, while clinging to his feet, something is going to land. I prayed hard ahead of time for the exact people at First City who needed to hear what I planned to say.

  • How mad I was at the church.
  • How, as a result, I tried to make my life work without Jesus, and the myriad ways that failed.
  • How I finally took the tatters of my faith and the chip on my shoulder and laid them at Jesus’ feet.

They came up to me afterward one by one and said,

“You were talking to me today.”

“I’ve been out of church for ten years, but I’ve been at First City a month. I love it.”

“I’m going home to read my Bible.”

Those words are almost more than I can take. Thank you First City for having me and teaching me.

Do What You Want Miley.

In case you live in a cave, Miley Cyrus basically broke Twitter Sunday with her foam hand and vinyl-clad VMA performance with the pervy and awkward Robin Thicke. Blogger Elizabeth Ester called it “predictable” and sums up the whole hot mess here.

The only lyric I remember from Miley’s song was “I do what I want.” Over and over. Wow, what a marvelous idea Miley! Humans, especially 20-year-old girls, fare so well when discharged from any measure of accountability.

So my question is:

Who is advising this woman? And in 18 months, when she wakes up in rehab, will they care? As her team (read: the people making money off her) will surely tweet, “Miley’s in a really good space and she appreciates your prayers,” will she be smart enough to snap out of it and FIRE THEM, so she can become something other than a caricature?

Young women here’s a tip: if anybody benefits more than you do from your “exercise of freedom” they are exploiting you. (Unemployed live-in boyfriends spring to mind.)

Maybe if Miley had a few feminist friends on her team, they might say: “Miley honey, that performance you have planned will debase you as a woman. It’s stupid, it’s lazy and you’re so much better than that.”

Or maybe a few gals from her old Baptist Church in Tennessee might say: “Miley honey, that performance you have planned will debase you as a woman. It’s stupid, it’s lazy and you’re so much better than that.”

Although many people think biblical wisdom is irrelevant and antithetical to 21st century culture, it comes from many mouths and often looks a lot like common sense.

Maybe Miley could take a cue from Justin Timberlake, whose VMA performance was so well choreographed and fun it screamed creativity, discipline and hard work. He was also humble and generous when he received his awards. Guess what? All that is biblical too, and he even received thunderous applause. So maybe the zombies aren’t coming just yet.

This morning Miley tweeted a new slutty pic of herself as if to say, “Ha, I meant to create something that even Hollywood would deride.”

It’s telling the picture was shot from the back.

The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame. Proverbs 3:35