Monday, July 17, 2017

A Better Life

"In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that
 we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Galatians 3:14

A better life.

Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that is what loving Jesus is all about. But I'm learning that's not true. And depending on where you are at in your life, you probably fall into 1 of 4 categories after reading that statement. 

1. You're not a Christian and you're not even really sure why you're reading this. (Hi! Stick with me.)
2. You're a Christian and you think loving Jesus does mean a better life & you're borderline already offended. (Sorry! Stick with me.)
3. You're a Christian and you're kinda, sorta feeling superior because you already knew that, but you wouldn't admit that because that would be prideful. (Congrats! Stick with me.)
4. You're a Christian and you are pumped because you simply love to see other believers "get it." (Bless you! Pray for me.)

(And note the word probably because I get it - some of you refuse to be categorized.)

Honestly, I would probably land somewhere between #'s 2 and 3 before this past weekend. Completely honestly, I would find myself sitting pretty in #3 and taking some strolls around the block every once in awhile in #2. So, if you find your self in either of those camps and are slightly offended, please rest in the fact I have successfully offended myself as well. 

But enough with offending people, let's get on with it. 

This all started about a month ago when the Holy Spirit revealed the following to me:
I am really good at talking to Christians about Jesus and I am really not good at talking to non-Christians about Jesus.

So, after about of week of trying to justifying why this really isn't that big of a deal and some people are suppose to encourage the saints and some people are suppose to share the Gospel but no one really does both......... I realized I was wrong and that maybe I am suppose to be doing both after all. Since, ya know, basically everyone worth imitating in the New Testament does both - not to mention Jesus himself. Minor details. Never really been good with details anyway.... (#facepalmemoji)

After repenting for overlooking this minor detail, (ok, probably a major detail but I have significant pride issues, so it's less painful to call it minor) I started praying that the Holy Spirit would provide me with people to build relationships with so that I could talk to them about Jesus's love. Wouldn't you know it, He answered. 

And this is where the real fun begins.

Because we met some people. Some beautiful, wonderful people. Some people for whom Jesus died. The only problem is... loving Jesus will not make their life better. In fact it could make their life worse. Like a whole lot worse. Like, I am not sure how to even approach sharing about Jesus with them because it would change their life probably for the worse. 

But that can't be right, can it? Jesus makes our life better! That's what we have been told. That's what we live. That's what we believers tell each other. So what's the deal?

*Cue revelation from the wonderful, glorious, beautiful, compassionate, wise Holy Spirit.*

Jesus didn't live, die, and resurrect to give us a better life. Jesus lived, died and resurrected to give us a new life.

You can't make something dead better. Right? Before a salvation encounter with Jesus, we are dead. Jesus gives us a new life. And not a new earthly life, (at least right now.. but this blog is not about the new heaven and new earth so we will just stay on topic) but a new spiritual life. Our souls are dead, destined to spend an eternity apart from Him until we have a a life changing encounter with Him that makes us new. 

SOOOOO, my problem was in believing that trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior would 1. give me a new life spiritually and 2. would give me a better life on earth. Because Jesus is nice. And that whole part in the Bible about fathers loving their children and giving them good gifts..... right? 

Please don't misunderstand me, I do believe with my whole heart that every good gift is from the Lord. The ones we ask for and the ones we don't. All things good are from God. But, the promise of a blessing was never a better life on earth. Like our youth pastor, Luke Harper, so prophetically taught on Sunday: 

The fulfillment of the promised blessing has always been Jesus. 

In fact, more often than not in the New Testament we are told that life on earth will be really tough for followers of Christ most of the time. 

Jesus is enough. It's all about Him. It has to be all about Him. 

Because if it's not all about Jesus, then we end up near tears on a Thursday night because we don't know how to tell someone about Jesus whose earthly life could change for the worse if they follow Him. (Not that I'm speaking from experience....)

To summarize, let's encourage one another. Let's pray for one another. Let's take all our request to the Lord, both spiritual and physical requests. But let's also make the good news about Jesus Christ actually be about Jesus Christ. Because that's how God has intended to bless us from the very beginning.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fixing and Processing

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ 

I am a fixer. It's who I am. I want to fix things. Always have been. Even in Jr. High, just ask my school counselor. I live for the thrill of seeing something broken or slightly off and making it whole. It satisfies me in the depths of my soul.

But the problem is sometimes I try to fix things, or at least help things, too soon. Just ask my gracious, merciful husband.

As most of you know just under 1 year ago, my husband officially retired from professional baseball. He didn't make it to the majors, but he did make it part of the way. And he will tell you that part of his identity was wrapped up in it. From 4 years old on he want to play baseball and he got so close to doing that as a career we could taste it. That's 20 years of emotional investment.

I, however, had not grown up with this goal. I was very supportive of his pursuit a baseball career, but I hadn't been anticipating it for years. Once we got married my ultimate hopes were to see my husband succeed and honestly to see my husband be happy.

So when the final decision to no longer pursue baseball was made, I'm sure you can guess what happened. We responded and processed things differently. Quite differently.

The "fixer" in me, coupled with my ultimate goal have seeing my husband succeed in whatever he did, immediately started looking to the future. I started to encourage and make plans for the future and assure Brandon that moving on to the next thing would be the best idea.

And those weren't terrible things to do, but the timing was terribly off. Brandon needed the chance to process this change - even to grieve this change. And he needed more time to do process than I did.

For one, I process things quickly (which usually results in a lack of grace unfortunately). But mainly, this didn't mean as much to me as it did to him. He had 20 years of hopes and dreams that he needed to process. Once that started to happen, then I was able to actually encourage and be helpful when I spoke of future plans the Lord had for him and us.

Cool insight into my life, right? Are you wondering why I randomly decided to share now?



Well, I share this to encourage you to give your neighbors time to process everything that just happened before rushing them to the unity rally.

I could be off here, but based on conversations I have overheard today and posts I have seen today I don't think I'm way off. Take into consideration that you don't know what it's like to be in someone else's shoes and realize that because of that you don't understand where they are coming from.

And not with a tone.

Not - "Well, I just don't understand why they can't just ____________"

But - "Man, I honestly don't know where you're coming from. But I really want what's best for you and for our nation, so let me know when you might want to talk about how we can come together."

I believe unity in our country is very much need. This is the most polarizing atmosphere I have been in. But let's affirm the emotions and reality of those not like us as well.

So if you voted for someone other than Trump, process this. Grieve if you need to.

And if you voted Trump, show grace. It's at least worth a shot.

Grace to you,


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Like a Bride

Joy. Anticipation. Happiness. Excitement. Love.

These were among my top emotions on my wedding day and the days and months leading up to it. Sure, stress was mixed in there every once in awhile along with some tears of frustration during the planning process, but mainly the emotions listed above. I remember my trip to the post office to buy stamps to send out invitations vividly. I told the woman helping me that I was buying them for my wedding, and I'll never forget her response:

"You don't looked stressed at all! Wow! I'm surprised."

I jokingly responded with, "My mom and nanny have got that part covered," but I still laugh when I think about my initial internal response. Oh no! Am I doing something wrong? Am I suppose to be stressed? What do I need to be stressed about? Does it count if I'm stressed about not being stressed?!

After I got to the car and attempted to sort my thoughts, it finally dawned on me to ask the Lord about it. I prayed, "Lord, I just love Brandon so much and I can't wait to marry him. The planning process can be a bit tedious, but when that happens I remind myself how wonderful it will be to be married to him and I get caught up in thinking about that. I've had multiple people now comment on stress, as if I'm not doing this whole 'prep for marriage thing' right if I'm not stressed about it. Are they right? Should I be stressed?"

Faithful and true to His word, the Holy Spirit reminded me, "Do not be anxious about anything, but with prayer and petition present your request to the Lord." Then, I was reminded of all the wonderful qualities of Brandon, all the ways he points me to Jesus, and that the purpose two believers' marriage is to show the world how Christ loves the church and how the church freely and joyfully serves Christ. So I breathed a huge sigh of relief and determined it was in fact O.K. that I was surprising people by my unstressed face.

It had been awhile since I thought about this (now funny, but in the moment very confusing) little encounter. Then I heard the song "Even So Come" by the Passion band with the words:

"Like a bride waiting for her groom, we'll be a church ready for You."

I couldn't sing along. I felt a knot in my throat. And I couldn't sing along. Because I know what it's like to be a bride waiting for her groom. I know the emotions you feel when you are excitingly anticipating that day. I know how you some days you almost seem to float, you are so full of joy. I know how you start holding your receipts and everything else you have to sign with your whole hand so someone will let you talk about the fact you are engaged and about to be married. I know what it's like to be consumed with thoughts only of marriage bliss.

I know all of these things, so I have a sinking feeling in my stomach and tears collecting ready to spill at any moment when I heard the words "we'll be a church ready for You."  

Recently, I have been getting very stressed very easily. If you looked at my thoughts, my words, my actions, my heart, my time, my money, my life, it would not look at all like a bride waiting for her groom. It would not look at all like I was ready for Jesus to come. Honestly, I've been longing for just about everything accept my King. And it is breaking my heart. 

So as I sit here with my stomach in knots, a knot in my throat, and a heart that feels like it is too hard and self consumed to ever long for Jesus, I can feel my Savior's love fall over. I can hear Jesus say, "I'm here. I love you. It's going to be O.K. You got distracted for a little while, but I never left you. I'm so glad I saved you. You won't even believe how we are going to advance My Father's kingdom together. His will on earth, as it is in heaven."

My prayer for you and me is that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit each day. May our hearts long for our king. May we be just like a bride waiting for her groom. May we be a church ready for Jesus.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:11

I'm a reader. Always have been.

In 4th grade I had 200 AR points by Christmas. If you don't know what this means, just know this is a very impressive feat of reading all the time instead of doing other important things. Like homework, cleaning up my room, minding my mother, the list could go on. (Now would be an appropriate time to apologize to my mom for hiding in a corner and reading instead of cleaning my room. I'm truly sorry... kind of. I really enjoyed those books.)

As if getting that many AR points by Christmas wasn't hard enough, (never hurts to toot your own horn when talking about your childhood, right?) what truly makes this amazing is how picky of a reader I was. My mom always said, "You can't judge a book by it's cover," but my superior 10 year old mind knew that was just plain silly. Of course you can judge a book by the aesthetic appeal, or lack there of, and decide immediately whether the story that went along with it was worth getting emotionally invested in or not. (Although I'm not sure I had those exact thoughts as a 10 year old. It was probably more like "That looks ugly. The story is boring. Moving on.") 

So, as I sit here at Panera Bread in Phoenix and think about how thankful I am I outgrew judging a book by it's cover, I am humbled to my core by the realization that I no longer judge books like this. I judge people like this. In my 23 young years I have accumulated a set of assumptions to go along with certain "covers." Very rarely do I ever think about the "story" that goes along with these "covers."

I see the beautiful girl sitting opposite of me in the bleachers at a Spring Training game with the designer purse, the sunglasses, perfect skin, fit body and perfect mani/pedi and immediately assume I know her "story" based on a quick glance at her "cover."  In this way I have placed her into a category (which in my opinion is a form of dehumanizing) and have therefore relieved myself of feeling obligated to go share my life with her and find out about her's. 

Because since I think I know her story, I assume we have nothing in common besides baseball. Since I am assuming, based on her "cover," that nothing is wrong in her life I decide it is unnecessary for me to share about my Jesus who binds the brokenhearted with her. Besides, I have trouble trusting Jesus with Brandon's career. How am I suppose to share truth and hope with this girl?

"My strength will be made known through your weakness." - Jesus

I see the man (or boy - it's often hard to tell from afar) sleeping in the shade at the park with a dirty backpack on and a few layers of ragged clothing on. With a quick glance at his "cover" I assume I know his "story."  In this way I have placed him into a category (which in my opinion is a form of dehumanizing) and have therefore relieved myself of feeling obligated to go share my life with him and find out about his. 

Because I think I know his "story," I assume we have nothing in common. Then, I assume based off of his "cover" that there are so many things wrong in his life that it is unnecessary for me to share about or show Jesus to him because he appears almost too broken. Besides, I don't have the time or resources to meet any of his physical needs. How am I suppose to share truth and hope with this guy?

"And the first shall be last, and the last shall be first." - Jesus

So just like that, twice in the same day, I have judged a book by its cover. But now the consequence is not just missing out on reading a good story. No, the consequences now are much heavier. It is missing out on being a part of someone's God story. Because of the categories I placed each person in based on their "cover" I forgot that a each has a story. 

Maybe the girl dreamed of this kind of life as child but now that she has it realizes that it can not fulfill her and is more confused and hurt than ever before. Maybe the guy never dreamed he would be the guy without a home but with a nasty addiction and has realized that it can not fulfill him but doesn't know there is hope. 

The last job I have is judging whether or not people need or deserve to hear about the hope of Jesus's love. The first (and I would argue only important) job I have is listening to the Holy Spirit and telling people about Jesus's love and showing them Jesus's love - even if that looks different to each different person. 

May we seek to be a part of people's story today, not judge it by their cover. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. Psalm‬ ‭3‬:‭7‬ 

The following is a guest blog post by my insightful husband. His desire to not sugar coat the Gospel and to love brothers and sisters in Christ we have never met is humbling and encouraging me. He is just the right leader for me. I pray these thoughts God placed on Brandon's heart call you to action, as well

King David was known as a man after God's heart and it is shown through his prayers as he authored many of the Psalms. Some of the Psalms he wrote were plea's to God asking Him to let him dwell in safety or to save him from his enemies. In the ESV translation, Psalm 3 is entitled "Save Me, O My God" and there are simularly titled chapters throughout the book. David spent a lot of his life on the run from people trying to kill him- even his own son at one point. 

David was suffering.

One of the things my wife bought me for Christmas this past year was a Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography. He was a pastor in Germany around the time Hitler came to power. Bonhoeffer ended up being killed for his desire to stand up for the injustice happening to the Jews and for his role in trying to assassinate Hitler. It is referenced throughout the book that Bonhoeffer leaned heavily upon the Psalms, doing daily devotionals in them up until his murder in a concentration camp. 

Bonhoeffer was suffering.

Yesterday I read an article that said 1,500 people, many being Christians, were killed in Iraq for their religious beliefs by the Islamic State. In North Korea there are thought to be up to 300,000 Christians in labor camps. In Nigeria the infamous religious group Boko Haram has been burning churches and homes of Christians, as well as the highly publicized kidnapping of many young girls. Those are just three countries and three accounts of Christian suffering. One member of the IS said "we can do anything we want, everyone is watching Gaza."

Christians are suffering.

Yesterday, Jackie and I spent some time on our knee's in prayer and for the first time the Psalms became real to me. God gave me the perspective of being in the situation of the suffering Christian and I read Psalm 3 and cried.

"O Lord, how many are my foes?
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul, 
there is no salvation for him in God.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from His holy hill.

I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of the many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O My God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people!"

Take a second and pray for your fellow brother or sister in Christ. Pray God will hear their cry and intervene and pray they hold on to the hope that Jesus is coming back and worth the suffering.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (‭Psalm‬ ‭139‬:‭7‬ NIV)

I went running today. Kind of.

I actually went hiking. Ok, if we are being technical I'm still in the middle of my hike. (Which explains why this probably looks like it was kind  of thrown together.) I'm sitting on a rock praying I don't reenact the Duck Dynasty episode I watched recently of  some of the characters getting ants in the pants. Literally praying.

Right before I sat down  I was running. For about 45 seconds... Maybe a minute. Mount Helena is steep! Don't laugh! Allow me to give you a mental picture of what just occurred. I was hiking (walking but hiking sounds so much harder) from the very beginning. After awhile my legs started to feel lose and I came upon a spot that looked more flat than uphill so I thought, "Hmmm. I bet I can run for a bit. I mean I do run. Usually not straight uphill, but i'll be fine for a bit." So I start running. It went so great, y'all, for about 20 seconds. Then just as I was mentally preparing to slow down and hike (walk) for another five minutes before trying again to run something awful happens.

I see people. Multiple. Three women to be exact.

So what am I suppose to do?! Just stop running and have them talk about how I am so out of shape the rest of their way down the mountain? No way! I want them to talk about how IN shape I am and how they wish they could  that. (Prideful thoughts are hard enough- typing them out for other people to read is especially humbling. Blah.) I thought this knowing full well that as soon as they couldn't see me (or hear my breathing) anymore I planned to stop immediately.

So I kept running.

I fooled them.

I faked them out.

They think I'm one of those people that run up mountains..... HA! If only.

As soon as I stopped and allowed myself to process what just happened, the Spirit showed me a few things.

1)  I do this in life outside of Mount Helena. With friends. With family. Sadly, even with my husband.  I don't stop to show weakness. So I run. I run until I can be alone and work  things out by myself without any ones help. Never-mind that the Scripture makes it very clarify that it's through our weakness that God is shown to others by letting him work in us. That's something I tell people, but it's not for me. I got this. I fool people. I fake them. They think I'm one of those girls that can do life without messing up.... Ha! If only.

2)  I do this in my walk with The Lord. I see a straight stretch and decide to handle it on my own without thinking twice. Instead of stopping when I hear the Holy Spirit guiding, I keep running. I pick up the pace even sometimes. I can do this on my own. I think I can fool God. I think I can fake Him. Ha! I'm glad I can't. I'm thankful it's not possible to get alone outside of His protective wings because I have given up authority over my life to Him. I'm thankful that when I sit down from the exhaustion of faking everyone else He is still there. Because where can I flee from His presence?

3) I'm afraid there are some people who are faking everyone into believing they are Christians. Don't get me wrong, my type of faking is counterproductive and the farthest thing from admirable. But my faking isn't near as scary as the act faking  people into believing you are a Christian. That faking is deadly. Literally. I listened to Francis Chan talk on this subject recently and what I am about to say is a paraphrase of a point in his message. For whatever reason, you may feel the need to act like you are a Christian even though you have no desire to live according to the Bible. Or you may be on the other end. You may be trying desperately to live according to the Bible but have never actually submitted your life to The Lord.

Either way, at some point surely you have thought about giving your life to The Lord and repenting of your sins, but you just can't. So many people already think you are a believer. Maybe people don't think that, but you hope people think you are one, so admitting that you had never actually given your life to Christ would be letting those people know they were right. Can't do that. It would hurt too much. Hurt your pride. So you fake people. And maybe you're successful at faking people. Maybe you will die and people on Earth will think you are in heaven. But what about you,  then. Will you be in Hell and think, "Well at least the people on Earth think I'm in heaven."  By. No. Means.

When Francis Chan put it that way it broke my heart. I do not want to make you doubt your salvation,, but if you know you have never given your life to Christ because you are afraid of what people will think who may have  thought you already were a Christian I PRAY you humble yourself before The Lord and give your life to Him.

I pray  you learn how wonderful it is to walk in the freedom of Jesus Christ without having to fake people.

So I'm going to keep hiking (walking) now. I may even run for 20 seconds. But rest assured I will be stopping when I feel like I'm about to collapse whether people are watching or not. And I will be praying The Lord teaches me how to not run FROM Him but TO Him on a daily basis. And I will be praying that people may enter into a real, lasting, wonderful, hard, comforting, refining, loving, pruning, grace-filled relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Effects of Hunger

"For the bread of God is He who comes down from 
heaven and gives life to the world."
John 6:33

Last summer I was babysitting a sweet 3 year old boy and his precious little sister. Most of the time this little boy was pretty easy and enjoyed playing and talking to me. He was so curious and often asked questions about how things worked or why things were a certain way. One day, however, he did not care for my answer to one of his questions. So he asked it again, “Is August in the summer?” The first time I quickly answered yes, but that second time I paused and did the math – four seasons, 12 months, 3 months to a season, September-November is Fall, etc. After gaining confidence in my answer I told him yes again. He was not having it. Much to my disbelief this calm, easy going little boy ran over to the couch and started crying, no bawling, face down and feet up.

As I sat their paralyzed I remembered a statement his mom had made about discerning when he was being blatantly disobedient and when he was acting out of hunger, tiredness, or something along those lines. So I regained my composure, praying there was something besides me that was causing this reaction and said gently, “Is everything ok? Is something wrong? Can I help you?” Little did I know how significant his response would be nearly a year later. He stopped crying, caught his breath, looked up at me, and said “I’m just really hungry, Jackie.” Oh sweet boy.

We can all think back to a time when our growling stomachs caused us to act out of the norm, right? In my case I tend to get a tad bit grouchy and impatient, though if Brandon were writing this he may leave out “tad bit.” (But he’s not and I am, so we’ll all agree on “a tad bit grouchy.") When Brandon gets hungry he starts asking questions. Instead of saying “I need food, like now,” which is what I tend, to do he asks me, “How hungry are you?” And, unlike me, Brandon is not that picky when it comes to food so he is liable to eat the first thing he can get his hands on – which one time happened to be cookie dough that was a couple of  months old. GAG!

Now, if we can get past the cookie dough we can get to where I am going with this. Yesterday morning was rough. Really rough. More specifically yesterday morning I was rough. As much as I would like to blame an outside source, and look for them I did, there is only one person to blame for my behavior – ME. Oh, I tried to blame Brandon because we over slept; He tried waking me up for 30-45 minutes. I was upset with the restaurant Brandon picked for breakfast; I said he could pick when he asked where I wanted to go. Our waitress did not smile enough to meet my expectations; I know nothing about her life. My cinnamon roll did not taste like Briar Rose’s; I guess I can’t hold everyone to their standard. Then, to sum it all up, I basically let all of this out on Brandon by being rude to most everything he said.

I wish I could tell you that sometime during the morning I got my act together – after all I have spent the last 2 weeks trying to memorize Psalm 13:5 which says, “But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Why couldn’t my dysfunctional heart just rejoice?!? It was not until that afternoon when Brandon had gone to the field that I sat down and just thought, “Why? Why God? What is wrong with me?!” And you know what God said? He lovingly and gently whispered, “You’re just hungry. Hungry for me.” Hmmm. Well now that you mention it, Lord, I do think that could be a key factor here.

I had been doing an awful job of spending time with the Lord the past couple of weeks, and like when we are physically hungry for food, spiritual hunger will show itself in some very unattractive, unglorifying ways. I had become grouchy, whiney, rude, unpleasant, needy, etc. much like when I am needing real food. Also, I had stopped evaluating myself and started looking at other things as being the issue. Surely it wasn’t poor little me that was the problem! HA! Worst of all, I had started feeding my spiritual hunger with anything I could get my dirty, grubby hands on. I pushed Brandon into a place that he doesn’t deserve to be by expecting him to make me feel content and whole. Then, because Brandon wasn’t fulfilling this need, (only Jesus can truly satisfy us and bring contentness) I started the viscous comparing game that I too readily become a participant in.

All of this because I was just hungry. I don’t say “just” because the hunger justifies my actions –by no means is that true. I say “just” because my hunger can be easily filled. All I have to do is spend time with Jesus and let him fulfill me.

The passage I hope you read is too long to type here, so get out your bible, smart phone, or ipad and read John 6:25-58. Reflect on it. If you still feel hungry after that, keep reading and keep praying. The Lord will NOT disappoint. It would be against His very nature. 

Jackie Moore