YOLO

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  James 4:14

Think of who you would rank as the three biggest celebrities alive on earth right now.  Whether by beauty, music, words, atheticism or acting ability, celebrities amplify an otherwise normal life to make their mark on this planet as big as they can.  Okay–now think back 20 years.  Who would you have considered the top 3 celebrities then?  (I was like 10.  My top 3 consisted of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Rider Strong and Andrew Keegan.  HA!)  Where are those 3 now?  How quickly things change.

There’s a hit song by Drake called The Motto.  Don’t look it up.  It’s terrible.   It’s a song with the lovely Lil’ Wayne where they talk about money and sex.  Original!  In it, he coins the term “Yolo.”  You Only Live Once.  (I laugh every time I hear the word, because for me, Yolo was a podunk town that hosted a band review I use to twirl a baton in in junior high.  Go Huskies!  HA!)

The Motto.  You Only Live Once.  The banner of our generation.

You Only Live Once.  Let’s get money and take duckface pictures and waste our lives!  Let’s glorify ME!

Trouble is, it’s a lie.  Cuz guess what homies…you can only live once, or you can be born twice.

Step out and look at our world from above:

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Yup, there’s Kim Kardashian in all her glory.  Right there in that tiny little speck of Los Angeles.  In 20 years, will anyone still be Keeping Up With her?

The name of the game is bringing glory to HIS grace.  That’s the point of this whole thing.  Glorifying who God is and what He’s done for us.  You can either be the part that brings glory to His grace by CONTRAST, or by similarity. Either way, He’s going to get the glory.  The light shines brightly in the darkest areas.  Are you the part that shines, or are you in the darkness it shines out of?

“…you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Phil 2:15

A celebrity can amplify their years on earth, getting as much fame and wealth and worldly significance as they can muster up, but that glory is limited.  No matter who you are, you can’t add any years to your life.  You can’t make your life more than the mist it is– a tiny blip on the timeline of our universe.  The world spends so much time trying to copy these people in their limited glory, so that their glory is a cheap imitation of glory that’s already cheap and small in relation to the big picture.

What do you want to chase?  Glory that will fade in 20 years, or glory that will last an eternity?  If my little life is just a mist that is here one day and gone the next, what is the best way I can spend it?  Is the limit of my life’s glory, the most I can muster up, the white boots and red lipstick and pom poms that I sported for a few months of my existence?  What does that look like in the scheme of it all?  Nothing!  Who cares!?

I want to make my mist-of-a-life a heavy downpour.  A rainstorm.  Something that at least generated some significance.  Here’s a few ways I can do that:

1-  Make my small life count.  YOLO as your motto?  Nahh.  How about Don’t Waste Your Life.  “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  Phil 3:8

2- Make my small life last.  “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?”  John 11:25

3- Make my small life multiply.  “But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”  Psalm 103:17-18

We can make the most of our lives by making the most of Christ.  We can beat YOLO with eternal life.  We can multiply the impact of our lives by leaving a legacy through our kids and other people.  Training them up in Him so that they make the most of him, and so on, and so on.

In ancient times, people tried to build a huge tower thinking they could reach heaven with it.  We’ve been to the moon and still can’t reach it.  If we waste our lives trying to build ourselves into demi-gods, we’re just building a big tower trying to reach heaven, when our best attempts are puny at best.  He’s given us the vehicle to make our lives count, though, and it looks like this–less of me, more of Him.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Phil 2:3-8

P31 Friday

 

This is what I woke up to this morning…he’s so creative!

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Why yes, that is 1978 laminate!  Don’t be jealous!

Proverbs 31: 10-31

An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.

She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.

She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.

She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.  Her lamp does not go out at night.

She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

 

Did you know P31 is an acrostic poem?  Each line starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  Which got me thinkin’……hmmmmm….I wonder what my acrostic would look like?

lways running late

exican food again?

apping her hubby to sleep

urritos sound really good

lways up to something random

eally likes presents

ever look at my laundry pile

xcellent bargain-hunter

alsa

 

I doubt King Lemuel will be including me in any of his oracles any time soon.  But, at least I have the framework and I know what I’m looking toward!  He has lavished so much grace on this messy girl.  So for now, I’ll write my poem like this:

 

illed with joy because of a glorious hope- that He was

O bedient unto death,

ising on the third day to bring glory to His

G race, which He pours out in double-portions on me daily, even though my

I niquities are far too numerous to count.  He continues to give me

V ictory over my sin and brings me into new lands,

E nding my slavery to death and

ever ever leaving me.

 

Happy Friday, loves!  What does your acrostic look like (and does it include salsa)?

Have a great weekend!

XO

Reference Point

“Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”  Matthew 13:52

I grew up in a split Christian home; a mother who was a believer, a father who was not.  This presented various challenges in God’s perfectly planned out way, and still does to this day.  My family tree is in a state of flux; my mom was the trailblazer, the pioneering woman who turned the tide for generations to come.  Mine is the first Christian family.  I’ve been blessed with a godly husband, and we both know our calling toward the Biblical family model.  What I can get hung up on is the lack of a reference point.

In college, I was a Landscape Architecture major.  Random.  I know.  Probably for nothing else than that’s where I met my husband.  Anyhow, at one point I had to take a surveying class.  Can you imagine that?  Me, in my pink heels with a helmet on and one of those weird machines you see them using on the side of the road, taking measurements to see where we were at in relation to the level of the sea.  Not really my cup o’ tea.  Have you ever noticed in the sidewalk at times there will be like a little metal disc embedded in the concrete?  Kinda looks like this:

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That’s a survey marker; also called a benchmark (ahh, now you know where that term comes from!)  A benchmark is a point of known elevation.  These markers are extremely helpful in things like navigation, surveying, and construction.  They give you a reference point as to where you are in space so that you can measure everything else around you by them.  In the sinful, human state, we look to each other as our benchmarks, good and bad.   If you’re a celebrity, you’re automatically considered a “role model.”  Like it or not, being in any type of limelight lends itself to little (and big) impressionable imitators.  We emulate the characters, “real” and fictional, that we see on TV.  We follow fashion trends from people around us.  We make life decisions to Keep up with the Kardash….er, Barnes….er, Joneses.  Scary.

It would be easy for Casey and I to just get stuck in no-man’s-land, with no reference point, no benchmark, and settle on down for a happy little life.  Drop our anchors of complacency and just kinda float there.  But we know that the more sanctification that happens in our little family, the more obedient we are to Him, the better start we give our children.  If I can teach Kiara and Khloe what I’m learning now at 30, what will 30 look like for them?  They’ll be doing things for the kingdom that I can only dream about!  At least, that is my prayer for them.  Blow me absolutely out of the water, girls.  Be bold in your faith.  Little trailblazers.  Boldly go where no Barnes or Cullen has gone before (I am not a vampire, you Twilight readers.  My maiden name is Cullen.  HA!).

Truth is, even if there is no reference point in our immediate circle, there are plenty in our church and those around us.  But more than that, we have been given a solid, set-in-stone survey marker to follow.  The good ol’ B-I-B-L-E.  Yes, that’s the book for me!  Simple as that.  It’s our handbook that contains “everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).  Want to know what God expects of you as a wife and mother?  Read Ephesians 5.  Proverbs 31.  Titus 2.  Deuteronomy 6.  Then, DO what it says!  If you’re like me, and you lack a worldly reference point, saturate yourself in these passages and others like it.  Bookend your day with them.  Read them first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  Here’s the kicker:  what these passages pattern out for us looks pretty much EXACTLY OPPOSITE of the pattern set before us in the world.  No reference point.  No one to copy.  No one glorifying it on TV and making it “cool.”  “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.”  Ephesians 5:22-23.  When is the last time you saw THAT around you?  The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church?  That’s a tall order.  The church’s job is to make much of Christ.  Isn’t it our job, then, to make much of our husbands?  Isn’t that what the Proverbs 31 woman does, serves her family well and her husband becomes known at the city gates?  Rises up and calls her blessed?  Ah, but here is where some get stuck.  They look at their own circumstances and think that these don’t apply to them!  “Well, you don’t know my husband.  He’s XYZ.  He does ABC.  If it weren’t for me, JKLMNOP.”  Then you wonder why it’s not working.  “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).  His word is the same for you as it is for me.  A benchmark doesn’t move depending on who is standing on it.  It is where it is.

We can’t use lack of a reference point as a copout for stunted spiritual growth.  We are told that we are to bring out of our storeroom new treasures as well as old.  We take everything that we can from those around us;  in our church, in history, in our communities and social circles, and in the books that we read.  But we also bring out new treasures.  He does a new thing with us.  He makes us the reference point for others.  He does a miracle, splits seas, makes a dry path for us to walk on, and brings us into a new land.  A foreign place.  Unchartered territories.  He makes streams in the wasteland and a way in the desert.  Asks us to survey the land and map it out for others.  Even in pink heels.  What an awesome God we serve!  Hang on to His loving arm as He pulls you across into new places.  May you be the new survey marker for many generations to come.  “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).  Now, that’s just plain cool.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:18-19

Out of Context Wednesday

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“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”  Matthew 7:9-11

Hairbrush

Whew! This is one busy momma today! Please enjoy one of my very favorites of all time. A reminder for BOLDNESS!

Also, please pray for my mommy today who sprained BOTH of her feet yesterday and is posted up on the couch while somehow managing to watch two spunky four-year-olds….!!

XO!

Amy

Lights Out

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Casey and I have a standing date night every Sunday evening after church (we have a night service), so we plugged our ears and turned off our phones so that we could watch the Super Bowl together over a huge plate of nachos.  We were floundering on who to root for– I had some old Charger Girl teammates on the field cheering for the Niners, plus the QB is from the Central Valley, and we valley folk like to pretend we know everyone who ever lived within a 60 mile radius.  I’ve always liked the Ravens, though, so that’s who I was going for.  Maybe there is only room in my heart for one California team.  We were really getting into the game and the Ravens were dominating… when all of a sudden… lights out!  And not only out, but out for like half an hour!  During the Super Bowl!  It was so weird!  The outage gave plenty of time for the Niners to recoup and slowed down Baltimore’s momentum.  It was looking like a comeback was possible, but the Ravens eked out the win in the end.

One of the most incredible things about cheering for an NFL team was just being in the facility where the guys trained.  We met in their conference rooms and picked pom pom scraps off of their practice fields.  We walked through their weight rooms and ran on their track.  We were constantly in the presence of athletic greatness.  The players are elite.  They practice for everything.  They watch film and study their opponent’s every move.  They X and O and O and X and pore over stats like nobody’s business.  They teach them to be ready for everything….but no one could have prepared them for what happened yesterday.  They just had to warm up again and hit the field.

The Super Bowl power outage got me thinking about preparation.  We, as God’s elite, his chosen holy people, are commanded to “preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2).  What would it look like if a player just decided that he didn’t need to work out anymore?  That he was just going to watch from the sidelines?  That he just wanted to collect his million-dollar paycheck and go home?  His selfish behavior would do nothing to advance the team’s goals and he would begin to become a drain on its resources.

You are one of His elite.  You have been picked to be a part of His team, with all the tools and assets you need to win.  We play for the trophy.

 First, you gotta become a player.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (Rom 10:13)

Push to be recognized as a first-round pick.  

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”  Isaiah 6:8

Train as one of the elite.  

“…train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

Be prepared for everything.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:13).

Play to win.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:24-25).

The enemy is going to try to throw any wrench he can into your game.  If you’re totally prepared, even lights out won’t throw you off course.  Our goal is the hope that we were called to–that grace to be given us when Jesus Christ is revealed.  He is the MVP, the all-star quarterback leading his team to victory.  And, this game is fixed.  It’s already been won.  That doesn’t mean it will be easy, it just means that even in the darkest hours we have hope for the win.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 3:14

Normalcy Bias- Part 4

Happy Friday!  This week fleeeeeew right by.  It’s funny how God is using this blog like Jumanji for my life– the personal issues and instances that He’s bringing into my path are so parallel to what I’ve been talking about here.  We learn as we teach!

I debated whether or not to include today’s “topic” in the Normalcy Bias series, but, it matches up so well and explores a whole other side of NB that I think needs to be addressed, so I just want to touch on it briefly.

This will, I think, be the last “installment” so to speak of the NB series, but I do plan on referencing it in future posts.  I hope these realizations continue to bless you as you recognize them in your life.

I want to call this last type of normalcy bias “The Bubble.”  It’s a little bit different than the ones we’ve seen so far.  This type of bias happens when a person is simply totally blind to the dams in their life and is living contentedly.    They don’t have, or don’t believe they have (most often the case), any huge areas of sin to deal with.  They may not be struggling with addiction or sex or deceit or any of the “big sins” we seem to think of.  Instead of moving toward Maturity, they drop the Anchor of Complacency, blow up the I’m Good Enough Bubble, and never move anywhere:

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They perch themselves high above the tops of their dams, out of view of the problems piling up on their Rivers of Faith.  They look out over Maturity, and deceive themselves into thinking they are really there, when in reality they are moving nowhere.

Their sins are not necessarily the visible kind, but the internal kind that wreak havoc on the soul:  anxiety, worry, greed, pride, complacency.

I find myself blowing up the bubble and anchoring down all too often.  I get complacent in my journey down the river and decide to go no further.  Here’s the catch-  if you anchor down long enough, the current of your river can begin to switch directions, uprooting your anchor and dragging you backward, leaving you languishing in Immaturity.

We commonly call this Lukewarm Christianity.

God hates lukewarmness.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”  (Revelation 3:15-16) 

“For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”  (Proverbs 1:32-33)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9)

Complacency is such a dangerous place to be.  Slowly and quietly the drift begins to happen, and the princess begins to look more and more like the peasants.  We, however, are royalty, adopted as daughters of the one true King, His little princesses.  We get to call Him “Daddy.”

“…but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:15-17).

Burst your I’m Good Enough bubble and put your princess dress on.  Your Daddy, the King, calls to you from Maturity.  Hear his voice, pull up your anchor of complacency, and go find Him!

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

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Normalcy Bias- Part 3

Good morning!  Jumping right in today!

So, we’ve been talking about normalcy bias, which is a person’s tendency toward “normalizing” things that are “out-of-the-norm.”  We looked at how our universe is nothing normal at all and how it screams praises to its creator.  Then, yesterday, we looked at what I am calling “Normalcy Bias Type 1,” which is the kind that takes place before the “dam.”  Specifically, we looked at what it looks like when that dam is unconfessed sin or sin that hasn’t been dealt with.  It may also be a command from God that we get stuck at (this is similar to what we will be talking about today, so I’m just going to move ahead).

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Today, we’ll look at what I’ll call Normalcy Bias Type 2, or that which occurs after the dam is demolished.  These two types are, in my experience, ways that my flesh keeps me from Maturity.

Oop, here comes Sally now….

Type 2 Normalcy Bias:

Sally:  “Wow, God!  I can’t believe what you’ve been doing in my life!  I can’t believe how clearly you spoke to me, that was CRAZY!  I’m so excited to XYZ like you’ve called me to now.  I can’t believe I didn’t see it before!  Your voice was so clear!  Well, I kind of remember it being clear.  It’s only been a couple of days but it seems like forever ago.  Did you really say that?  You know what?  Maybe you didn’t say that!  Maybe I just came up with it on my own!?  I know that in that moment I couldn’t have been more sure about anything in the world, but I’m out of that moment now.  And now I’m starting to doubt if that is really what you said after all.  I mean, Saintly Suzy does ABC, and she’s a believer, so it must be okay.  Maybe you just wanted me to think about what it would be like if I DID do XYZ.  Now I’m confused.  Will you just confirm it to me one more time, Lord?  Arrrrgh.  I really don’t want to do XYZ.  I know!  I will just wait it out.  If you really want me to do XYZ, God, just tell me again so I can make sure I got it right.  For now I’ll stick with ABC.  You just let me know.”

So, here’s what happens.  God, in His grace, either speaks to you on something or moves you past an area of sin.  You ride this wave for a couple of days:

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and before the swift river can slow back down, with the wind still blowing through your hair, you start to do this:

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Normalcy bias sets in, we start looking around at the world around us and who is NOT doing XYZ, and we begin to doubt what God said to us in the first place, OR, in the case of sin, we marginalize its significance (“it’s not really that bad, everybody does it” kinda thing).

This trick is as old as history itself.  What was the way that the serpent tempted Eve?  He asked her, “Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden?””  And there it is.  Normalcy bias.  “Did God reeeeeeally say that?”  Before you know it, we give the thing a little time, and then a little turns into a little bit more, and then more than that, and then a long time.  Then, before you know it, either the opportunity has passed or we are back in the shackles of our sin.  “…the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-7).  Following through with God’s calling is a faith test.  And, it requires a good, heaping bunch of the stuff.  But here’s what’s so awesome– check THIS out:

  • Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (talking about the Old Testament heroes), let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2)
  • “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”  (Rom 12:3)
  • “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  (Rom 10:17)

The faith that is needed to be obedient to Christ is a GIFT.  Jesus founded our faith and perfects our faith.  God has assigned you a certain measure of faith (CRAZY!), and that faith comes from hearing (or reeeeeeeeading) His word!  So just like we use our dam demolisher to break down our dams:

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We use the same tool to help us keep the faith that is required to be obedient to Him.

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One more thing….don’t even pull the “well what if He didn’t give me enough faith to do it?”

To you, I say this! “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).  He always equips the sent!

So guess what I’m going to tell you to do now?  Yup..go on and get reading!  Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you insight.  Then, be bold honey!  Have faith, DO IT!  I dare you!

Normalcy Bias- Part Two

Good morning, ladies!

So, yesterday we introduced the concept of the normalcy bias and how that can keep us from growing in our faith.  Let’s not let the unfamiliar words leave us confused (yesterday, my husband said, “I loved your post about l;ksdjfoawiejfalwkefj”) but instead just try to break down some simple truths.  Normalcy bias is, simply put, a person’s tendency to “normalize” things or events that are out of the “normal.”  To begin, we talked about how the world we live in is anything BUT normal, and when we dull God’s majesty, our growth can be stunted.

Moving forward now, I want to talk about what I have observed as two very powerful types of normalcy bias in my own spiritual life.  These little nuggets are so precious to me, as recognizing them in my life has helped me to move past sin and into stronger relationship with Him.

If you haven’t been introduced to Saintly Sally yet, please start there.  I’m going to use her to illustrate.

Remember Sally?  She was moving down the Faith River when she hit a dam, or wall, that kept her from moving closer to her destination, Maturity.  Let’s take it back to the dam and have a look at how normalcy bias can mess Sally up.

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So, our friend Sally comes to a dam.  For me, these dams generally are one of two things:

  1. An area of sin that either needs to be confessed or demolished or both (usually both.  In fact, pretty much always both.)
  2. A command from God.  This is usually something that I feel God has pressed on my heart to do or say (never contradicting scripture).

Now, I want us to look at the two types of normalcy bias.  Remember, these are just observations from my own tendencies, not necessarily hard and fast truths across the board.  There are probably many more types!

  • Type 1- This type of normalcy bias happens in FRONT of the dam (before the thing is demolished).
  • Type 2- This type of normalcy bias happens BEHIND the dam (after the thing is demolished).

Let’s look at Type 1 today and what it looks like when the dam is sin, and what it looks like when the dam is a command.  Enter Sally.  Here’s what she might be thinking to herself in each of these situations:

Type 1 Normalcy Bias with SIN that needs to be CONFESSED:

Sally:  “Ugh.  This thing is just wearing me down.  I feel so guilty.  But, was it really all that bad, what I did?  I mean, Worldly Wanda does it all the time.  You know what, if I confess this sin, all it’s going to do is bring more harm than good.  It’s just going to really hurt someone’s feelings.  It would be better for me to just shoulder all of the guilt of it for the rest of my life so I don’t have to hurt So-And-So.  Yes, I will be the martyr.  I will just hold it in to spare so-and-so the pain of knowing what I have done.  After all, I’m never going to do it again anyway.  It was only that once.  Oh, and that other time too.  But that’s it.  I think.  Well, maybe more.  But it doesn’t matter now because I’m not going to do it again anyway.  You know what?  All this guilt is not good.  I don’t think guilt is from the Lord so I am just going to have to do my best to forget about this nagging guilt.  Get really busy.  Think about something else.  I know!  Maybe I can do something really nice for so-and-so!  That would make me feel better, AND would be lovely for them!  Yes, what a great idea.  AHH there it is again!  That constant nagging!  Think about something else….Disneyland…Disneyland….Disneyland….”

Now, not that I have aaaaaaany experience at all with what Sally is thinking, but I wonder if any of you do…….?

I LIE!  I have SO much experience with that one!  GIRL let me TELL YOU!  This is the ONE AREA that continually lights me on fire.  Normalcy bias tries to take healthy conviction and shove it under the carpet.  Then, the conviction turns into GUILT because more and more sin is being committed each time it isn’t confessed!  The BIGGEST PERIODS of growth in my life have happened DIRECTLY AFTER I have just humbled myself, said “you know what, God?  I don’t even care anymore!  I just want to live for you, and I’m going to trust you to clean up the mess that I’ve made.”  My heart starts beating reaaaaally hard and fast, I confess the thing, and even if the ramifications of my sin are hard to deal with, I generally enjoy one of these periods:

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Type 1 Normalcy Bias with SIN that needs to be DEMOLISHED:

Sally:  “I really shouldn’t do that.  I know its wrong.  I know what the Bible says about it.  Oh, shut up.  It’s not that big of a deal.  Look at Wordly Wanda!  She’s such a ******.  She does it way more than I do.  What a moron.  She really needs to get that under control.  I need to get that under control.  Wait, what?  No, seriously.  It’s not that bad.  You know what?  When I get older, I’ll stop.  I just need to XYZ first.  Then I won’t do it anymore.  I’m still young, and I’m just having a good time!  It’s not a big deal.  Stop being so legalistic.  Eww.  Yeah.  After I XYZ, then I’ll stop.  Because then, it won’t matter anymore anyway.  I am a Christian.  I may not be the best one around, but I do believe it.  Maybe I’ll start going to church soon, even. So my sin is covered anyway.  No big deal.”

I really have no idea what Sally is thinking about here, but if I did, I would tell you this:  THESE TRAINS OF THOUGHT are straight from the PIT of hell.  They are designed to keep you from freedom in Christ.  They trick you into thinking that being a believer is restrictive and no fun.  The truth, my friend, is that SIN is BONDAGE, and RELEASE from sin brings freedom.  God LOVES you and wants you to be free from slavery!  He’s already paid the price to set you free!  But we walk right back into the jail cell and willingly put back on the shackles of sin.  “Ugh, why does God want me to go out THERE?  I’m happy right here in my cell!  Joe-Schmoe is in here with me!  And he’s so cool!”  Seriously.  We are so lame.  And your enemy just sits back and snickers.  Like that stupid dog.  Teeheeeheeehee.

Here’s the deal.  If this is where you’re at, and you’re letting these types of thoughts pile up in your brain, you are being massively deceived, loved one.  Get mad at it.  Get mad at your sin and come boldly face-to-face with the truth.  If you think you might be ready to face your junk, let me recommend something to you that has helped me to see it all more clearly.  Go to a quiet place and look in a mirror.  Who is looking back at you?  Is she the woman that God wants her to be?  Is she the same woman on Friday night that she is on Sunday morning?  Take stock of where you’re at on the walk.  And, if you’re not where you should be, it’s time to do some Dam Demolishing.  Do you remember how we do that?

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Scripture.  Look up a topic that is relevant to your situation in the back of your Bible and start to just let some truth sink into your brain.  It will probably sting a little, or maybe a lot, but there’s healing on the other side of that sting.  You can even just Google “Bible verses about such-and-such.”  This requires some boldness, sweet one.  Sometimes facing the word is the hardest part.  But no matter what it is, sex, addiction, drunkenness, lying, pride, food issues, pornography, guilt, lust, idolatry, manipulation, a combo of those, all of those, whatever…God provides you a way out.  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (2 Corinthians 10:13)  (Two things here- #1- don’t focus on a smaller issue to try to divert your attention from a larger one.  #2- don’t look at the list and think “Well I don’t have that problem…it’s not so bad….all LIES.  Don’t ask me how I knoooooow.)  He is so good to us.  Can you just let yourself be UNCOOL for a minute, get bold, and face your sin?  But, sorry.  I won’t be able to help you.  I have never dealt with any of those things.  Okay, maybe one or two.  Or maybe all of them.  I don’t know.  Normalcy bias LIES to you and tells you that your sin is okay and not that big of a deal.  Who is the father of lies? (John 8:44)  Let’s not give him any more power over us.

Okay- that was a lot.  I don’t want to move on to the Type 1- Command issue and possibly give you something to divert your brain from the sin issue.  Not that I know all about that little trick or anything.  So I’m going to leave it there today.  This is a big deal, loved one.  I remember facing some of my biggest dams and just getting into a hot shower, letting the water wash away the tears and shame of my sin.  Take it down the drain. Maybe you can let yourself do the same today.  I am so praying that the Holy Spirit’s power is woven through the words of this post and that He does a mighty work in someone’s heart today.  I am praying for your strength and for your boldness.

“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.  Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:2-10

**If you need prayer, please always feel free to contact me.  Leave a comment or use the link at the top of the page.  Feel free to leave your name anonymous if you’d like, or, leave your name but your prayer request unspecified if you would like to.  Either way, know that I am right there with you, I’ve been there too, and through His power and grace, you can be free!  Wheeeeeeeeee!

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Normalcy Bias- Part One

There’s a phenomenon that tends to happen at the onset of large-scale disaster called “normalcy bias.”  Some of you may have heard this term on the news when the big hurricanes are about to hit and people just hang out in their houses.  Basically, the thought of what could happen is so extreme that it becomes unbelievable to a person, and he/she begins to think that it couldn’t possibly happen to them, so they just go on as if everything were normal.  We see this type of behavior in many other areas as well…teenagers who think that their actions have no consequences, adults engaging in knowingly harmful behavior and then being surprised at its effects, countries that turn a blind eye toward horrendous human atrocities.  The normalcy bias has, sadly, become the American way.

This phenomenon leeches out into our everyday lives and wreaks havoc on our spiritual growth.  I want to explore with you a few different ways that normalcy bias absolutely ruins our faith.  I’m going to skip OOC Wednesday tomorrow…I feel so strongly that God really wants to teach us all something here and I want to make sure that I give it enough space and time to come through to you.  Before we begin, can I ask you a favor?  I’d like for you to please stop now and pray that the Lord would make these words real and clear to you and that he gives me the appropriate words to share with you.  This is so dear to me, my friends, because these realizations are some of the ways that God pushed me past some of the walls I had built and are also many times the hindrances that keep me from effectively applying the truths that He teaches me.  Recognizing the normalcy bias in your faith life, in my experience, can be a key to finding the “narrow path” and staying on it.  I want you to take these things with you today into your daily walk and see how they affect your belief in who God is and what He speaks to you.  Normalcy bias, quite literally, makes us stupid.

There are so many facets of this that are hardcore truths, but I’d like to start today by just shaking the earth you stand on a little bit (for those of you North San Diegans, more than the booms from Camp Pendleton last night).  If we are to combat normalcy bias in our lives, we have to TOTALLY SHRED the thought that our lives are anything but normal.  Here are a few things to think about:

1.  Right now, as we speak, you are sitting on top of a ball that is spinning around itself and another ball.  It is not attached to a piece of fishing wire hanging from a crossbar.  You, now, are perched on top of a huge floating orb, and you are not falling off.  Nor are the people on the other side of it.  Now, that just makes me want to grab on to a pole or something.

2.  You have two balls inside of your head that are somehow wired to your brain allowing them two see.  Somehow, the two balls can filter light in some crazy way that allows your brain to register images and colors of the things around you.  That’s a mind-bender.

3.  This fish exists:

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4.  So do these ones:

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5.  So does this bird of paradise (it puffs out flat like this to attract a mate):

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6.  The Hubble Telescope leads astrophysicists to estimate that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe.  This is the central region of the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our solar system:

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The same God who made billions of galaxies and the blobfish in the ocean’s darkest depths made YOU.  Knows your name.  Has numbered the hairs on your head.  There is nothing normal about that at all.

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psa 8:3-4).  Forreals.

See, to understand how normalcy bias wrecks us, we can start with just the world around us.  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).  The creation is SCREAMING His glory.  He has created it ALL.  He is MORE glorious than all of the heavens in their most illustrious grandeur and their teeniest, minutest details.  We are so wrapped up in ourselves, in our feelings, in our circumstances that we lose sight of the utter majesty of it all.  “Sarah said such-and-such.” “Can you believe what Rose did?  How dare she.”  “I can’t believe I had to do such-and-such.  Ugh.”  Ugh is right.  We are so self-centered!  Bleck!

Everything in creation screams glory to Him.  From the fingerprints on my baby girl’s pinky to the far reaches of oblivion, God is master.  Maker of all things.  Can he not, then, handle your worries?  Surely you can do a better job than he.

Destroying normalcy bias in our faith starts with shattering our illusions of control.  We make poor gods.  Contemplating his grandeur should make our heads hurt and our bodies fall flat to the ground in worship.  Pressed down, even.  As low as we can get.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Tomorrow we’ll start looking at more of the specific ways that normalcy bias keeps us from fullness, but for now, just bathe yourself in his majesty.  You are so loved.

XO