Fix Their Crown: Adding Value to Others

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“Be the woman who fixes another Queen’s crown without telling the world it was crooked.” -unknown

In this ‘follow me, subscribe to me, look at me’ (guilty!) world, it’s easy to forget to focus on the people you’re reaching out to. But what if we take a moment to stop looking at ourselves and making sure our crown is standing tall, and instead, take a look at the crowns God has given to others.

The above quote is packed with truths about how we should treat people. Everyone has a crown of some sort. Sometimes, life happens, and emotional things cause the crown to fall or become crooked. By you acknowledging that the other has a crown, you are acknowledging that they are precious in the eyes of God, now in the eyes of you, and help them to walk in that. You take them aside and do what you can to make sure that crown is sitting straight and gleaming like the starts in the sky. How do we do this? Let me break it down for you for the moment you need to straighten someone else’s crown.

1. Examine yourself

Before any of the following can be done, you need to peek behind the curtain of your heart. Why do you want to reach out to this person? Is it to help? Is it to gossip? Is it so you can feel good about yourself? You also need to check on your own sins. You’re not better than the person you’re helping and sometimes you need to help yourself before you help someone else. Run yourself through a list before you send that first message.

2. Check-in

When you let someone know you’ve been thinking about them (in a not creepy way), you’ve just added value. You’ve let them know that for a second, someone in the world took a moment to acknowledge you. Not only is that comforting, it also helps you stay connected. Who is going to listen to anything you say if you haven’t tried to contact this person since high school?

3. Encourage

In order to feel valued, one must be given something of value. Something they can use in their life. People like free stuff. Now, I’m not talking about a bunch of gifts. I’m talking about priceless stuff. Being the shoulder to cry on, the sound board to bounce off of, the ears to simply listen. Those actions can sometimes be more encouraging than trying to fix a problem with advice.

“We need to build each other up in Christ and in order to do that, we need to stop focusing on the surface while ignoring the deep stuff.”

4. Sow seeds

Branch out from your typical Christian responses (not that they’re bad) and look for more original ways to bring the love and hope of Jesus. If you read my last post, you’ll understand why. Jesus brings life. If you’re caring for a Christian, don’t be ashamed to ask them how their relationship with God is going. These things aren’t easy to talk about, but maybe they got some things to get off their chest. And as a Christian, you can be there to hear, understand, and not judge them. If they’re not a Christian, be gentle and maybe share about how God has gotten you through tough times. Our job is to shine God’s light not to blind them with it.

5. Respect boundaries and privacy

These moments of edification should happen in private and in appropriate settings. Exercise discernment and caution with who you reach out to and what you talk about. Don’t broadcast other’s problems or make sure everyone can see that you’re being nice in public. Be direct but loving. We need to build each other up in Christ and in order to do that, we need to stop focusing on the surface while ignoring the deep stuff.

” Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12 (NIV)

If you’re wanting to be the one helping with people’s crowns and you’re not sure how it should look or what it should feel like, just look at the fruit of the spirit in Galations 5. Does your interaction demonstrate the Godly attributes it needs to? You might not get the results you want, but it’s never wrong to offer someone something good. It’s never harmful to make someone feel treasured. It’s never wasted to share the love of Jesus.

Strengthen your brothers and sisters. Offer them someone better to look at than just you. Show them love, show them Jesus.

God bless!

-LJM

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

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

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

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

When More Than Your House Needs Spring Cleaning

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It’s that time of year when the sun shines and suddenly you’re aware of every piece of dusty furniture, smudged glass, and clogged gutter and you dedicate every spare moment taking part in the reluctant but necessary ceremony of spring cleaning.

Don’t worry! I’m not going to give you literal housecleaning tips. You’re going to have to jazz that up your own way. However, I would like to encourage you to take the duster around your heart in case any cobwebs have started to build up. Here are some ways to get started.

  • Look for the dirt

Are there choices or habits that just aren’t working for you? Do you find yourself in a rut rather than a routine? Now’s the time to stop in your tracks, look those bad boys in the eyes, and say “We’re gonna fight.” It’s time to be active not passive. Take the time to make a list of the things in your life that are missing, not working, or just plain harmful. Recognize them and pray about them. They are issues for a reason, and God is the only one who can give you enough strength to wrestle with them.

  • Sort through the mess

Just like when we decide to sort through closets, attics, or storage space, we must sort through the areas that affect us spiritually, mentally, and physically.  What are our priorities? How do we manage our time? What do we spend our money on? How are relationships? Keep whatever brings a smile to your face and discard the unnecessary in your life.

  • Prepare for your plan of attack

Now that you’ve asked the hard questions, it’s time to fast and pray about what God has revealed to you. Fasting depends heavily on prayer for strength, discipline, patience, and whatever you’re wanting to accomplish through this cleanse.  It’s humbling, it’s difficult, it’s refreshing, and it’s beneficial in many ways. However you decide to fast (food, media, TV), lean on the grace of God to help you grow closer to Him. He may reveal ways to help with this process. He may give you the added strength to be done with somethings that’s hindering your growth. Or He may spiritually reset your mind.

  •  Clear the clutter

This is when you officially act. I look at clutter as anything that has crowded your life in a negative way and has kept you from Jesus. Whatever that may be, come up with a plan to deal with them. Take it one day at a time and know that you’re not going to step into perfection, but you can step into progress.

Spring cleaning can be grueling, but the whole reason we do it is because we want to be surrounded by the things that make us feel good and healthy and proud. Do this for your soul and for your mental health. Your spirit will thank you.

If you take the time to go through these steps, you’ll be ready to walk lighter and smile brighter, feeling renewed, rejuvenated, and redeemed.

Happy cleaning!

-LJM