I Wanna Be Where the People Are

I Wanna Be Where the People Are

Think back for a minute: Why did you initially join social media, such as Facebook or Instagram? 

I did it because I wanted to be connected to my friends.  I wanted to stay in touch even with those who were out of town or overseas.  I’d imagine many of my friends joined for the same reason. 

But at some point, there was a subtle change to the atmosphere.  It no longer became about just staying connected with friends and loved ones.  Somehow it became a platform for not only sharing our millions of opinions, but trying to convince others why they are wrong and we are right and they should think just like us. 

This kind of communication doesn’t generally go over well at the hairdresser or the family dinner table.  Strangely enough, it doesn’t go over well on social media, either.  Especially if you share opinions that the owners of said social media platforms disagree with.  Nobody likes being told they are wrong.

Now, many conservatives are leaving in droves and going to other platforms where they will be surrounded by like-minded people.  They will (they hope) no longer be censored, and there’s the added bonus of rarely, if ever, having to see a political opinion post that they disagree with.  They feel they are sending a message to Mr. Zuckerberg, and others, that they disagree with being censored and they don’t like the direction that the platform has taken.  What was once a platform for connecting and staying in touch with friends and family has now imploded and become a space where many conservative Christians don’t feel “safe”, because they want to discuss their political views freely. 

Let’s face it: we are offended.  We are concerned that our American rights are being taken away and we want everyone to know that is NOT okay.  And we are ultimately willing to sacrifice our relationships and connections in order to make sure that we get this message across.

So, we go off and create a little bubble that is filled with people exactly like us.  Meanwhile…

Who remains with the masses to speak life?  Who remains to release love?  Who remains to give hope?

As we segregate ourselves, we will become more and more out of touch with the vast variety of people and relationships in our lives that we once cared about.  All that will remain will be the people we agree with.  I don’t know about you, but for me the number of people I agree with dwindles all the time.  In fact, I can’t think of a single person on the planet that I agree with, 100%, on everything, all the time. 

Since when did we make agreeing with people our basis for loving them?

Jesus himself said that we are to love and speak with everyone, not just those who are like us. If they persecute us, we not only love them, but pray for them, too. 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48

Is anyone praying for Mr. Zuckerberg?  Is anyone praying for the presidential candidate of the party they did not vote for? 

I heard God say this morning that there is a battle raging over the airwaves and all forms of media.  What will they be used for?  Division, or unity?  Life, or death?  If God’s people leave the airwaves, who will be there to speak life?  Speaking politics does not bring life.  Release love, and you release life.

God’s people are called to a higher standard.  He’s inviting us to leave the rabble of disunity and squabbling over earthly things and to come up higher, where our focus is on the kingdom of heaven.

We must quit thinking that it is our job to stand up for our rights.  Is God not a righteous judge?  Does He not seek justice on behalf of the truly oppressed?  Let’s be very careful that we are not making God into our own image by assigning to Him what we think He should do or care about.  A lot of us assume that God’s priority is to make sure our civil government provides all the human rights that keep us comfortable.  But who’s to say that allowing a loss of rights and greater persecution for the American church is not part of His plan to move the American church from lukewarm to fiery hot? 

God is jealous for the attention of His people.  Over the last year, we have been a bit like a fish that bites every baited hook it sees.  Every distraction satan has served up, we’ve taken the bait.  We’ve gotten into skirmishes over every little thing we disagree with, but He’s calling us to come up higher.  God will eventually judge all those who promoted injustice on the earth.  But His word tells us that mercy triumphs over judgement.  Where is the mercy of His people?  Where is our mercy?  Where are the people who want nothing more than to look like Jesus?  Where are those who care more about relationships than rights?

Jesus never once stood up for his rights.  And he could have.  He deserved to.  But he did not, because he knew the persecution and injustice He suffered was serving a greater purpose, a greater move of God, than simply avoiding pain or discomfort for himself.  

God’s kids keep bickering and complaining about earthly things when there is a world full of hungry, hurting, starving people (figuratively and literally) that He has called us to save.  I just keep hearing this invitation from Him to “come up higher”; to stop squabbling with the chickens when we could be flying with the eagles.  Let’s stop allowing offense into our hearts over politics, disagreements, wrongs, and our “rights”. 

Do not think for one moment that He has not called His people to love.  Yes, we are called to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, bring hope to the hopeless and defend the cause of the oppressed.  We can do all these things, but if we don’t have love, we have nothing.  

I can hear the Father calling for a resurrection of love in His people.  Love for each other, and love for the lost.  We will not agree with the lost.  We will often not even agree with each other.  But,

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!  Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!  (1 Corinthians 13:4-9 NLT)

What if we were to be just as passionate about reclaiming the airwaves for LOVE as we have been about fighting for our rights?  What if we saw social media not as a battlefield, but as a field that is ripe for harvest, full of people who need the hope and peace of Jesus?  What if we began to see it as a place that is not all about US, but about THEM?  What if we challenged ourselves to a personal campaign of posting something positive and loving on a regular basis?  What if we committed to praying before we post anything, to make sure we’re promoting the Father’s heart, rather than our own agenda?

Social media – the one place it’s still easy to gather these days – is truly a field that is ripe for harvest.  Let’s stop looking at it as a place to promote our political opinions and start realizing that it’s where all the people are.  People who represent God’s very heartbeat.  People that God loves and is calling to Himself.  People who are desperate for light in the darkness.

So, while many of my friends are leaving mainstream social media, I am staying. 

It’s where the people are.   

Finding Sweetness in 2020

Thanksgiving at our house yesterday was not social media-worthy. We did not consume a feast. No turkey, potatoes, stuffing, or pie for this family. I did not take a single photo. Our house was a hot mess.

I’ve been sick for the last week and a half, and we just couldn’t get it together in time. Concerns about a possible Covid diagnosis meant I was not only sick, but isolated for many days from my husband and kids while we waited for my test results. This was a new level of emotional difficulty I had not faced before. My empathy for those isolated during this time only increased.

But the morning of Thanksgiving brought a beautiful gift in the form of an email. My Covid test was negative. I could hug my husband! I could hug my kids!

We huddled together on the couch and watched a movie in our messy living room while we ate the pasta dinner my husband had made.

And you know what? As hard and messy and ugly as it was compared to most other Thanksgiving Days…it was Thanksgiving stripped down to its purest form.

At the end of the day, I don’t give thanks because of turkey or pie. It’s not the decor or even the traditions that fill my heart with gratitude.

It’s the fact that no matter how much is stripped away, there is sweetness that remains. There is always something to be thankful for. For me, it was the simplicity of being able to hug my family again. It was just being around them and watching them interact. It was being sprung from the isolation of my bedroom to be in the midst of those I love.

Sure, there is other family I missed, too. I think most of us had a different Thanksgiving this year than we are used to. But wasn’t it a relief to spend a day contemplating gratitude? It seems this year we have complained so much. We have grieved and mourned so much. But I felt a beautiful shift yesterday. I felt it was a day spent doing what we were created to do: be thankful. What a relief to go to social media and see people expressing gratitude for what really matters, rather than more opinions or complaints.

My Thanksgiving Day embodied so much of what I feel 2020 has been about: the stripping away of things that we took for granted, and finding that the things that remain are more important than we’d realized. It’s been a simplifying and a refining. It’s given us a laser-like focus for the things that are most important to us. Our hearts have learned more than ever what it’s like to yearn for family, to long for community. We yearn for justice and to see wrongs being made right. We may not all agree on how to go about it, but most of us seem motivated by these same general principles.

Today is the day after Thanksgiving. But my family will celebrate it today. I’m going to do my best to help cook a big meal even though my stomach is unimpressed with food this week. But our gratitude continues. I get to be out of my bedroom! I get to hug my kids!

I’m praying that your gratitude continues, too. We are loved. We are in this together. We have what we need. It’s the day after Thanksgiving but there’s still so much to be grateful for.

Sometimes when things are hard, I catch myself wallowing in self-pity. But that just makes me more sick and miserable. I’ve discovered there’s really only one antidote for that sickness: thankfulness. So I start making a choice to shift my mind to fix on what I’m grateful for, and my mood follows! It’s amazing.

So this is my day-after-Thanksgiving prayer for you, too: may we fix our thoughts on what we have to be thankful for, however small. Maybe, just maybe, instead of wishing away the remainder of 2020, we can change it by changing our own minds. Sure, this year has been a disaster in many ways; but looking deeper, we see new levels of appreciation and gratitude for family and community that didn’t exist before. We see a new thankfulness for the simple things.

Personally, I’ve discovered at an even deeper level that Jesus is enough for me. Not just when things are going well, but also when they’ve gone off the rails. He was enough for me in 2019 and He’s been enough for me in 2020. He was enough for me in health and He’s enough for me in sickness and isolation, too.

If you don’t know Him, DM me. I want to tell you more about who I’m most grateful for. I want to tell you about the one who has turned much of the ugliness of this year into moments of triumph and overcoming for me. I’ve actually taken giant steps towards lifelong goals and dreams this year that I would not have taken if it weren’t for this pandemic.

I don’t want to ignore or seem tone-deaf to anyone else’s pain or hardship this year. It’s been beyond challenging for our nation and the world. But there is still good to be found. There is still sweetness to uncover. There is still love to be given and received. There are people who care about you (even if you don’t always feel it).

If you’re reading this post, I want you to know I’m thankful for you, too. Many of us do not see eye to eye on various issues, but I see in you a beautiful person who was created for a purpose. Your life has tremendous meaning and value and I’m so thankful you exist. I wish I could hug you right now and tell you how important and loved you are.

Let’s keep Thanksgiving going, shall we? We’ve got another month left of 2020. What if we were truly radical and continued to look for the things we are grateful for? You and I just might shift the rest of this year to something beautiful.

The Spirit’s New Sound

I was able to complete the set-up of my little home recording studio this month. It’s been quite the learning curve, but I asked the Holy Spirit to help me figure all this stuff out. He is really answering my prayers. I still have a LOT to learn, and a lot more sound-proofing of the room to do; but this week I published my first song that I wrote and recorded, mixed, and produced by myself. I feel a lot more of these coming in the future.  (You can see the video at the end of this post.)

The very fact that I was able to record and release this song is a testament to all the freedom God has brought me in recent years. I’ve written songs all my life, but was so bound up by insecurity that I kept them secret, rarely releasing them into the world. God has shown me that my worth and value does not come from the praise of man, and there’s a special anointing that’s released when we take a childlike posture of joy in the creative process. Think about when a child is drawing, painting, or creating in other ways. They are not self-conscious. They are not concerned with perfection. They are simply finding joy in the process of creating. When they are finished, they love to show their work to their mom or dad. They feel a sense of pride in what they’ve accomplished, but they don’t bother to compare their work to anyone else’s. They just get so much joy out of creating for creativity’s sake. As a parent, I have never criticized my children’s artwork. I have never compared their artwork with my other children’s. I never think about professional artists and how my kids’ artwork falls short of “professional”. I’ve only ever felt pride and joy when I see what they’ve done. One of my children has disabilities, but I am no less proud when he creates. To me, their creations are more valuable than a Rembrandt.

I think that’s how God views it when you and I create.

I believe the Father is so pleased when we approach creativity with wonder and childlike faith. To create for the pure joy of creating actually means I’m acting like my Daddy! After all, He is the Author of Creation and Creativity. We look a lot like Him when we are creative, and He actually gets joy out of our joy in the process.

Creativity also releases the prophetic in ways that mere words cannot always do. God speaks in many languages. I’ve been meditating a lot lately on John 3:6 when Jesus says, “For the Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound, but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born!”

So the wind of the Spirit has a sound.  You know what I want poured out on the world now more than anything else? The Holy Spirit. What if you and I can jump into that airstream and contribute to His sound? What if, in listening to the Father, He gives us a new sound that has never before been released? 

For some of us, it is our words. For some it is writing. For others it is music. For others it is acts of kindness. For others it is miracles, signs, and wonders. You name it. I believe God is releasing a new sound in the world today and it is carried on the wind of His Spirit. It sounds like Heaven and it looks like Love. What if we all decided not to hold back anymore? What if we all decided to be so devoted to our time in the secret place that we never had to wonder what the Father was saying? What if we took what He said in the secret place and released it as part of the New Sound? What if we devoted ourselves to training our ears to hear His Spirit-wind louder than any other noise? 

What if you asked Him what new sound He wants you to make? Perhaps it is as simple as choosing to speak gratitude throughout your day rather than focusing on what’s not going well. Perhaps it is choosing to pray for someone that you would normally complain about. Maybe it’s time to try out a new hobby or lose yourself in worshiping a new way. Maybe your quiet time is always the same thing in the same place, and it’s time to mix it up a bit. I really feel God is blessing the “new” in this season. He is on the move. He is doing a new thing. I can hear the sound of the Spirit-wind, and I’m not totally sure where He’s going, but I do know I’m jumping into His air stream! My ears are tuned to His voice and my will is submitted to my King. I’m ready to give all I have for His glory and there’s nothing more thrilling than partnering with the wind of the Spirit! 

Song Story:

Last month I was in a School of Revival class where Heidi Baker was sharing from her heart and experience about the extreme importance of getting away with Jesus every single day, and it made a big impression on me. With everything that’s going on in the world, it’s especially vital that we check in with our Source of peace daily! It’s in that secret place with God that we can be loved on and hear His voice. I recently discovered a “secret” spot by the river near my home that is secluded and unbelievably beautiful. I’ve had some special times being alone with God there, where I’ve come with no agenda other than to just be with him. It’s been a new level of intimacy and falling deeper in love with Jesus.

This song was birthed from that place of finding new ways to be alone with Jesus. I pray this song releases peace over you and beckons you with a gentle invitation to come into His presence and let His love wash over all your worries and pain. You really are his Beloved and He wants nothing more than to be with you. Not out of duty or religious obligation, but because He’s crazy about you. He’s calling you right now to come and be with Him so He can cover you with His love and the oil of His presence.

You are His Beloved! 

“Come Away” – an intimate worship soaking song