What You Need to Know About Christianese

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I first heard the term ‘Christianese’ in college. My Christian college. Since then, my eyes have been opened to this whole other language that’s exclusive to us believers. That may sound obvious, I mean, doesn’t every group have their own go-to phrases?

But Christianese has more negativity attached to it and that’s the complete opposite of what we want. Can it be avoided? What do we do about it? Do we need to do anything about it? These are the questions I want answered!

***Disclaimer: I realize I may even have some Christianese sprinkled in this blog. That’s my point.

I’m not going to call out these phrases specifically, but if you’d like some examples of Christianese, just take a listen to the people in your Bible study, your church, and unfortunately, Christian comedians. Take note of the statements you hear repeated almost verbatim by different people. These are the phrases that get satirized by the world and even our own people. And that can’t be a good thing. Who will respect the God we worship if we don’t even respect Him?

As Christians, we want to appeal to those who don’t know for themselves the life-giving power and love of Jesus. We want to encourage and edify others, not sound like worn out bells. We can’t let our comfort in the words and phrases we’ve heard or grown up with inhibit others from taking the gospel seriously.

We’re in a tough place. As soon as we mention Jesus or God or the Bible, we’ve entered into churchy language. That can’t be helped, and those who take offense are those who probably don’t want to hear about it anyway. I feel like that’s the type of Christianese that can’t be avoided. I want to talk about Jesus! I don’t want to preach, but I want to share what Jesus is doing in my heart, and I think there’s a difference.

Now, the other extreme would be to quit talking about God or biblical things altogether to avoid sounding Christiany. That would be compromising your beliefs and your testimony based on cultural opinion. I don’t want to scare you out of saying certain things. Don’t be ashamed! Just be aware.

So, though the lingo is part of the territory, I think we need to be conscious of how we’re delivering it. Are we just reciting the church script or are we speaking from the heart?

The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.

Proverbs 18:4 (NIV)

Let’s take the time to examine our words. Do we actually know what these familiar concepts mean to us? Process the verses, digest the truths, and meditate on how they affect your life. Maybe when you’re faced with an opportunity to share with someone or pray for another, you can do so confidently knowing what you’re talking about.

It’s not about saying something correctly. It’s not about memorizing the jargon to feel like you belong in the group. It’s about understanding what’s going on in your heart and being able to articulate it to others in the most authentic way possible.

Now, don’t clobber me if you feel like I’m attacking people who use these phrases. I do it too! But ever since I noticed it, I became frustrated by it, and I set out to use that awareness to better understand my beliefs and express them in a way that maybe can help people relate more. I hope this information will also enhance your ministry as well.

What are your thoughts? Am I making too big a deal of this? Or is Christianese too sacred to tweak? Let me know in the comments!

-LJM

Isaiah 12:4

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The Year of Rejection

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“We all learn lessons in life. Some stick, some don’t. I have always learned more from rejection and failure than from acceptance and success.”

Henry Rollins

2019 has held promise, but that promise has been suspended above me and I haven’t been able to reach it. Instead, I’m standing on a tightrope and rejection keeps giving the rope a shake, threatening to make me fall.

Trying to figure out what to do is pretty much the motto of your twenties and this year has been no exception. I took some risks, held out hope for amazing job opportunities, auditioned for ministry projects, and sent out some stories and manuscripts to several publishers. Can’t get anywhere unless you put yourself out there, right?

For months, I received rejection after rejection. I surprised myself at how well I handled it at first. As a writer, you quickly learn it’s is part of the competitive industry. But when more areas in my life were met with rejection, I found myself starting to stack it against God.

I always pray that God’s will be done instead of mine. I firmly believe in Him opening and closing doors according to His will. But how many doors can you get slammed in your face before you start taking it personally?

I doubted my ability in every sense of the word, and I doubted God. It’s easy to believe He can do all things, but will He do them for me? I started listing all the rejections I’d received and the more I dwelt on them, the more discouraged I became.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. 
Psalm 37:23,24

It’s easy to let Satan use the rejections and failures in your life to steer you away from trusting God while God’s trying to use them to steer you toward His purpose. We need to remember that IF we surrender our way to the Lord, He will guide our path.

Use the roadblocks, the pitfalls, and the detours to your advantage. Praise God for His direction and constantly remind yourself to trust that He knows the way for you to go. He’s got the job for you, He’s holding the opportunity for you, and He’s saving the place for you to be.

Our trust honors His promise and He is faithful just as we should be. Don’t let the rejection fuel your worries. Don’t let the failures define your worth. It’s a waste of time.

Meanwhile, I’ve got my first book coming out—the first, I hope and pray, of many. (see ‘Books’ page)

God is good.

-LJM

Godly Conduct in a Not-So Godly Job part 2

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In a previous blog, we discussed how to honor God with a career that’s not necessarily Christian. Now, we get into the nitty gritty as we answer the question: What do we do when we work in an environment that doesn’t support Godly principles and people who don’t believe the same way we do?

This is probably a situation that most of us will fall into when following a career path. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves blending in with a toxic environment and fail to be the light that Jesus wants us to be. So, if you want to know how you can “do everything for the glory of God,” here are some helpful tips.

  • Respect those in higher positions (Romans 13:5)

We may not always agree with how our bosses choose to run the show, but they’re the ones who have been placed in authority for whatever reason. The more respect given, the more respect earned. Remember, the truest testament of respect is when it’s demonstrated without the person present.

  • Watch what you say (Ephesians 4:29)

Nothing hurts you faster than your own words. One statement in poor taste can damage your reputation, your relationships, and your witness. It’s wise to practice self-control when it comes to what you say. Being true to yourself doesn’t mean saying whatever you want. People speak with enough negativity to last several lifetimes. You should be the one to speak with encouragement, compassion, and love.

  • Dial down the complaints (Philippians 2:14)

The verse is self-explanatory. Don’t complain. Don’t argue. People say they don’t want to work in a drama-filled environment, yet it’s amazing how much drama we still find in our workplaces. Sometimes it can be boiled down to those two traits. If you remember Who you’re doing the work for, maybe that will help when the job frustrations eat at you. Praise the Lord for your job—you have it because He blessed you with it.

  • Be honest (Proverbs 12:22)

The Bible says let your yes be yes and your no be no. No gray areas. Let your work be just as honest and your words just as sure. Because one day, someone will come against you and your integrity (or lack thereof) will speak for itself. Be the person your managers and coworkers can trust.

It doesn’t take long to realize the importance of these qualities in someone especially in the workplace. What you need to ask yourself is what kind of employee do you want to be? What kind of Christian do you want to be?

You don’t always need to stand on your desk chair and proclaim Jesus to the office. You don’t need to carry the thickest Bible you have under your arm everywhere you go. You can, however, always ask God to give you opportunities to shine His light, because He will. In the meantime, walk, talk, and work according to His Word and you will give Him the most honor wherever you are.

God bless!

-LJM

To You Who is Close to My Heart and Who Suffers from a Mental Illness…

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I want you to know that I don’t regret walking alongside you.

I want you to know that though I’ve never cried as much over someone, I will continue to cry with you for as long as you need.

I want you to know that I am on my hands and knees praying for you.

I want you to know that I will never give up on you.

I want you to know that I don’t get it. I may never will.

I want you to know that sometimes, I don’t say the right things or the things you need to hear.

I want you to know that I dream of you living the abundant life you never thought possible.

I want you to know that I get mad at you sometimes because of this. I hope you’ll accept this as a human reaction.

I want you to know that I’m proud of you. Keep going.

I want you to know that this evil thing that plagues you has never once made me love you less.

I want you to know that Jesus is with you, even on the days you feel absolutely nothing.

And finally, I want you to know that I’m not going anywhere.

Can You Honor God in a Job that’s Not Christian?

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If you’re a Christian twenty-something-year-old, you’ve probably prayed more than once for God to lead you to the right job, and you just hope that that job incorporates something you like doing with the security of being able to pay your bills. However, sometimes life doesn’t work out like that right away and you take anything just to keep you from being homeless.

*BACKTRACK: don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying if you’re in that boat that God hasn’t answered your prayers. It just means that you’re in a different step of the answered prayer.

Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to express to you the importance of being able to honor God wherever He places you whether it’s a transition job, a job you hate, a job that’s not ‘Christian,’ or a dream job.

When I say job that’s not ‘Christian,’ I’m referring to a career that’s not necessarily in the ministry like a church, a Christian publication, a mission field, etc. If you don’t have that type of job, that’s okay, you can still be an instrument for God where your passions lie.

If you’re like me, you may be working a side-hustle that allows you to put your efforts into your passions like writing, acting, or music. In that line of work, God has taught me that I can make an impact doing the most ordinary things.

I believe that working in a way that’s pleasing to God is much more a head and heart deal than it is the physical tasks you’re doing. Let me explain.

First of all, you need to ask yourself if you even want to honor God in your career or workplace? If you don’t feel the need, then you will probably act so accordingly. No worries, I’ll let you talk to God about that yourself. BUT if you do want to take the steps, here are some things to consider.

Seeking His will. His will is a very large umbrella that covers most of our lives. Even Jesus Himself surrendered to what God wanted rather than His own desire in the moment of His crucifixion. It’s also part of how Jesus taught us to pray. “Thy will be done.” If we truly want to do what God wants us to do, we will continue to submit to God’s purposes even if they don’t always line up with what we want.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him that He will do it.” Psalm 37:4,5

You may be wondering…how do I know that what I’m doing is in God’s will? That’s a whole other blog, but the short answer is this: you don’t. At least, not 100%. But it goes back to what God has given you from the start: talents, knowledge, passions, experience. If this is something you’ve already committed to prayer, I believe God will make it known to you in some way. He did for me.

Going back to His will, two foundations you’ll need are wisdom and trust. All you need to do is continually pray for wisdom (James 1:5). Trust can be a more complicated issue. Proverbs makes it simple though. Say it with me now…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5,6

The key word I want you to zoom in on is ‘all.’ Trust requires all your heart and in all aspects of life. But the good news is, if you both are going toward the same goal, He goes before you so that all you need to do is just keep swimming. That’s why you can trust Him.

I’ve only scratched the surface of this topic, so be on the lookout for a part 2 where I dive deeper into Godly conduct in a less than Godly career.

How do you feel about God in your line of work? Take some time to think about how God has woven your life to get you to this moment.

God bless!

-LJM

Summer Activities to Keep Your Faith Alive

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School’s out, sun’s out, and we’re outside to enjoy it! Whether you just graduated, took the summer off, or been out of school for a while, you’re in for some kind of routine change these next few months.

It’s easy to get lost in the slew of sunshiny activities, new schedules, vacation days, and more, but one thing you don’t want to lose is your time with Jesus. Here are some activities to help enjoy summer and keep your time with God a priority.

  • Outdoor Devotions

If you have a regular devotion time, you probably already started doing them in the comfort of the morning sun. I love being able to enjoy the birds and the breeze and the calm of the morning while reading my Bible and devotionals. Sit on your porch, balcony, or bring a blanket out to the lawn. Have a cup of coffee or smoothie to combine with the perfect morning pick-me-up.

  • Painting

I love to play around with painting. My favorite place to paint is on the porch with a sermon or some worship music playing in the background. It helps me focus, feeds my spirit, and exercises my creative juices. I paint rocks, shells, and canvases. Some have verses or images pressing on my heart. Even if painting isn’t your thing, you can do something else like wood carving, knitting, puzzles, sketching, while allowing God to minister to your soul through teaching or music.

  • Hiking

Nothing brings the heart closer to God than nature in my opinion. Its unmistakable beauty can be such a clear representation of God’s fingerprint. Bring a friend or a group and hold a Bible study at a picturesque location. Don’t get too distracted by the scenery—the point is to be surrounded by God’s beauty as you fellowship and dig into His Word.

  • Camping

The summer is the perfect time for a retreat. Longer than a hike, camping takes you out of the luxuries of the world and brings you back to the basics. Camping can be a good time to escape from every day distractions so that you can pray under the stars or spend time in the Bible by the fire. If you can’t go far, you can take a mini-retreat via tent in the backyard.

  • Night of Worship

Sticking with the camping theme, a simple worship and fellowship around a small bonfire can be so refreshing. It’s a time to get intimate with people, with yourself, and with God. Time to share feelings, encourage others, and simply worship. I guarantee you and your friends or family will want to have another one soon.

  • Be Thankful

Nowadays, summers fly by, so make sure you’re relishing this one with thanksgiving. Before we know it, the nights will turn cold and coats and boots will be coming out of storage. Be thankful for the sun, the rain, and the time with family and friends. Be aware of new life, new blessings, and the change that summer sweeps over your life.

No matter how much you do this summer: vacation time, friend time, family time, work time, beach time…it will never be as fulfilling as Jesus time. Shine some light on the soul this summer. Have fun, make memories, and grow into the next season of life!

God bless!

LJM

When You Feel Stuck

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Do you remember jumping on the trampoline when you were a kid? You couldn’t wait to get your shoes off and throw yourself on the taught black netting. You’d squat down and launch into the air, land and propel even higher the second and third time.

The thrill was that feeling in the pit of your stomach. You know the one. When you’re at the peak of your jump with your stomach lifted into your ribcage and your hair floating and outstretched like your arms. It was the moment of flight just before you returned to the springy mesh for another go.

Do you ever feel like that in life? I know I have, especially this past year. I felt like I had jumped higher than I’d ever jumped before, reaching for a pivotal moment in my life, and then…I just stayed there. I hovered with my intestines wrapped around my lungs and my feet flailing in the air, anticipating the descent, but never getting permission to land.

I was stuck. Stuck because I had done all I could and I just had to wait for something to happen. Stuck because this could change everything. My life felt halted even though time did not. I kept thinking, “if I only knew, if I could only speed things along, I could get on with my life.”

But it was a season. A necessary one even though I still don’t know all the reasons why it was necessary. If you’re still in the air, let me give you some advice while you’re up there.

  • Acknowledge it

It’s okay to know that this is how you feel and it’s uncomfortable. But it’s also okay not to know what’s going on. If you trust that God knows what He’s doing, you know that this unpleasantness is not just to make you squirm.

  • Pray

I’ve never felt more dependent on God than I have this year. I could do nothing but make little attempts at controlling the situation, but ultimately, God had the final word. It could be a word you like and it could be a word you don’t, but know that it’s coming and the best thing you can do is pray God will help you wait for it and that He will help you prepare for the result.

  • Don’t make impulsive decisions

When I get impatient, I start making rash decisions and paying for them later. As soon as you start to take matters into your own hands thinking you’re helping God along rather than the other way around, I guarantee you’ll regret it. They either hurt or do absolutely nothing to help the situation.

  • Remember it’s temporary

I read something on Twitter that said, “all suffering has an expiration date.” I relate that to trials of any kind whether it be temptations, suffering, overcoming people and places, even feelings. All of it lasts for a season, even if it’s a long season. The best way to help the time go by painlessly is to let God do His thing, and to do less kicking and screaming and more surrendering. A drowning victim has a better chance of surviving when they stop fighting their rescuer and just simply let themselves get dragged to shore.

  • Pray

Did I already say this? It’s worth repeating. Jesus wants to walk alongside us, especially through our moments of extra struggle. If we just grit our teeth and plow through on our own, we could miss out on valuable growth in our relationship with the Most High, who wants nothing more than our heart. Talk to God as much as you need and ask Him what He’s trying to say during this time. He’ll answer the way your heart needs to hear it.

I thought I knew what it would look like to finally come down from being suspended in the air. I thought I would drop and hit the ground running full speed ahead. Whereas that might be true for some, it wasn’t for me. Instead, God eased me down so slowly, I didn’t even know He was doing it.

He lowered me back to earth, rested my feet on the ground, and now as if I’m a child, He’s shuffling me forward one step at a time.

Remember what goes up, must come down eventually, and it will be at the pace you need with the next step laid out in front of you.

Your time of being unstuck is coming. But whether you’re stuck or unstuck, trust in the Lord with all your heart, and just keep going.

God bless!

-LJM

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:11