God Loves The Hoochie Mama (Swimsuit Edition)

bikini

 

In the beginning God created bikinis.

No, that’s not right . . . there were actually no bikinis, pants, shirts, shoes, underwear, boxers, or briefs.

God did not intend for us to be strutting around in bikinis. He intended for us to walk around as naked as a jay-bird.

God created Adam and Eve, and then He placed them in the garden. Here, Genesis 2:25 tells us, “the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed.”

Everyone was naked, and everything was perfect.

BUT . . . (no pun intended) Adam and Eve disobeyed God and decided to eat out of the only tree from which God told them to stay away.

Lusting after a mere piece of fruit changed everything. When Eve saw that the tree was, “good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise (Gen. 3:6),” she took a bite and shared it with Adam.

At that moment, sin entered the world. At that moment, Adam and Eve (and the rest of us to follow) lost their free pass to let it all hang out. The nudist colony was officially shut down (at least in public places). Instead, the Bible tells us the couple tried to hide themselves with fig leaves because they were ashamed. It was like one of those nightmares where you go to class and you look down and realize you are naked. For the first time in human history, exposed genitalia caused faces to blush.

Why were they ashamed?

They knew that they had sinned. And guess what? We would have done the same thing (eaten the apple and ran).

God Covered Them In Love

God could have left them in their nakedness, plagued with shame and insecurity.   Instead, in a gracious act of love, He covered them with, “garments of skins and clothed them.” As the Scripture says, love covers a multitude of offenses (and in this case, love covered a multitude of awkward body parts).

This is the message of the Christian faith; it is a loving God clothing us in love. A God that opens His arms to the spiritually naked and ashamed and says, “Come, let me take your shame and clothe you with righteousness.”

The Bible tells us a story in which God says, “See my son Jesus, yeah the one hanging out with all the prostitutes, drunkards, lepers, downtrodden, and outcasts? Yeah, Him. He has obeyed me perfectly, and He is going to be sacrificed on the cross for your sin of lust, greed, discontentment, self-righteousness, anger, and failure to obey. Then I am going to take His righteousness and cover all of your flaws and shortcomings. I am going to exploit my Son, so you don’t have to be exploited. I will hang Him naked and ashamed on a cross, so that your sins will be covered by His blood. I will forsake Him so that I can accept you.”

The Gospel reminds us that we no longer have to be ashamed, because we can be hidden in Christ.

Christian, our arms should be wide opened to the naked and ashamed because our Savior pursued the naked and ashamed with His entire life. Jesus loves the hoochie mama, and you better believe that includes all of us because sisters, we were all harlots and we were all whoring after the gods of pleasure, power, and praise.

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An Explicit Summer

Summer. Oh the season when temperatures rise and clothes come off. A time when it is “okay” to be uncovered.

Our culture celebrates nakedness with songs like, “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes.”

There is nothing to be ashamed of, they tell us. After all, “it’s your body. Do what you want with it! Take it off! Get rid of those fig leaves. There is no need to hide. Don’t be ashamed of who you are!”

Let others do what they want with your body. Lady Gaga sings, “Do what you want with my body.”

Of course this makes sense for a culture that has itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny thoughts of God.

Growing up, dressing modestly was something that my youth group strongly encouraged. I remember at camp we would have to make sure our shorts were longer than our finger-tips. I always hated the fact that my arms were so freakishly long (#TallGirlProblems). Our youth pastor always encouraged us to, “guard each others hearts.” I always thought to myself, “If those pimpled face youth boys can’t control what goes on in their pants when I am around, that is their own fault. They need to get it together. Show some self control! I am going to dress however I want. After all, God gave me this body – why should I hide it? Besides, Jesus came in the flesh so they can keep their eyes off my flesh. I am actually giving them an opportunity to show the power of Jesus over sin (such compassion).”

Regardless of all of the speeches that I had heard, I put on a bikini because I wanted to look good and have amazing tans lines.

Then I took it to an entirely new level when I decided to compete in pageants and wear a bikini in front of hundreds of people on a stage with a spotlight on my rear.

I LOVED THE ATTENTION. It wasn’t just the men who were staring. The women noticed the power of the bikini as well. To say that I was on a power trip would be an understatement. Winning “swimsuit” competitions did not help with my pride that was inflating by the second (held up by an underwire pushup bra all the while). Having all eyes on me was awesome. Women were jealous, and men wanted me (or at least that’s what I thought).

One night when Jamus and I were dating in college, I remember going coming down the stairs in a pair of shorts (with “Wildcats” across the rear-end) that were entirely too short. The look on his face told it all. I had his attention, and this is what I wanted – power. I knew that I was causing him to stumble, and yet in an incredibly sinful kind of way, I liked it.

At the end of the day, God created our body to glorify Him. Psalm 139 says, “I was fearfully and wonderfully made,” in that we bear the image of God Himself. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that Jesus purchased our body with His own blood; thus, we should “glorify God with our bodies.”

It makes sense that those outside of the world are naked (or at least close to it) and unashamed. But what about Christians? Is it okay for us (those who have been called from the darkness into light) to wear bikinis?

Here are some questions we should ask ourselves in making a decision on what to wear this summer.

First, does the Bible speak clearly to the issue? In particular, does the Bible prohibit bikinis?

2 Timothy 2:9 says, “Likewise also women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”

Let’s be clear. This verse does not say, “Thou shalt not wear a bikini.” However, what is implied is that women should dress in a humble way that does not draw attention to themselves.

A great question to ask ourselves is, “What is my purpose in wearing this outfit? What is my motivation? Does this article of clothing glorify God (or me)? Am I making much of God, or myself? Am I asking others to look at me, or Him? Does this make me feel powerful?”

The reason I will not be wearing a two-piece bathing suit this summer (besides my muffin top) is because I would be wearing it to grab people’s attention.   My tendency would be for people to think, “Man, she has been to the gym! Wow; she looks hot!” I’m certainly not implying this is the case with every woman (maybe it’s not this way for you at all), but for me, that’s just how I would roll. My ears love to hear the applause of people.

Does it hurt us?

Although we may look powerful strutting our stuff across the stage of life revealing all of our amazingness, we are actually hurting ourselves. We live in a sex-saturated culture where men and women are simply looking for the next wave of stimulation. It is all about an image, isn’t it? When we look like the culture, we are asking to be a selected for their visual stimulation. “Can I be your next image? Will you desire me?”  “Let me be your eye candy!”

Is this outfit causing me to be seen as a sex symbol? Am I blending in with my surroundings?

This is the first part of The Swimsuit Edition.  Follow me here to find out when the next one is published.

Lets start a dialogue about this topic.  Share this post and lets start chatting.

What are you thoughts concerning what Christians should be wearing this summer?  Should we let it all hang out or cover up?

 

‘Royals’-Living The Fantasy

royals

 

Why in the world do we watch reality TV? Really though, why?

It’s because we long to escape our boring reality into someone else’s story, a story far bigger and seemingly greater than our own. Somehow the Kardashians seem to be a little bit more intriguing than changing diapers, going to the office, making dinner, and trying to find all of those missing socks (seriously though, where do they go?)

Our desire to be around greatness has created a culture of celebrity worship. Against my better judgment, I always end up on E! Entertainment. Be honest, we know you look through People and Us Weekly magazine columns out of the corner of your eyes in the Kroger checkout line. I totally get it; I do it too! We need to know which celebrity has a saggy bottom and who is getting fatter by the second. Although I hate to admit it, I’m somehow interested to see if the Bachelor has found true love (ha – ha). I mean seriously…. It’s important for me to study the downward spiral of former Disney Stars.

Entertainment pulls us in and out of our boring life’s. By switching back and forth between reality shows, are we really just seeking to escape our own seemingly dull realities?

Although we may have a dream for greatness and a drive to rule (even if it is living vicariously through someone else), not everyone can be “royals,” as Grammy winner Lorde proclaims.

And we’ll never be royals.
It don’t run in our blood,
That kind of lux just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler, you can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I rule, Let me live that fantasy.”
Why has this song resonated with our culture?

Lorde is not only an incredible artist with fabulous locks and my new favorite up and comer…. she is right! Not all of us will be “royals,” but in many ways we still possess a fantasy to rule. If you are like me, you have probably come to terms with the fact that you are never going to be a real life princess. In all likelihood, we will never hold an OSCAR in our hand, and will probably never even be nominated as “mom of the year” in our hometown. We realize we may not have what it takes to rule the red carpet, but it’s okay. There are still plenty of little kingdoms that we can rule. We become Daydream believers amidst our ordinary lives.

Our kingdoms can be found in the midst of laundry piles multiplying on our couches, dining room chairs plastered in weird looking remnants from dinners long ago, surrounded by our court jesters covered in peanut butter, in a cubical with one of those swivel chairs and posted notes everywhere, pews, play groups, classrooms, seminary, and even the blogosphere.

We mock celebrities for their absurdities and lavish lifestyles; as Lorde says, “Gold Teeth, Grey Goose, Trippin in the bathroom, Bloodstains, Ball gowns, Trashing the hotel room.”

We may say, “We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair,” when in truth every one of us have been in a love affair with ourselves.
Although we may have never “seen a diamond in the flesh,” oh how long to capture greatness. (Even if its just flipping through the television.)

Even if it is simply, “driving Cadillacs in our dreams.”

We were not made to be “Royals” receiving applause; we were made to give the applause to Jesus Christ – the only One worthy of praise.

Our little kingdoms will one day be destroyed.

 

Goodbye, Bravermans

ash
“Mommy, WHAT is on your forehead?”

How do I explain ashes to a very confused four year old? How do I tell her of frailty and mortality?

“Honey,” I say, “this is a reminder.”

Ellie says, “A reminder?” She’s obviously still confused, although very aware of her mother’s forgetfulness (keys, phone, wallet, school papers, etc.).

I reply, “Yes, a reminder that mommy needs Jesus.”

She says, “But MOMMY, you already have Him.” (Score! At least she recognizes that I “have Jesus,” because I’m sure that some days she has to wonder).

Then I say, “Yes, I have Jesus, but sometimes mommy forgets that I need Him every day – even this very moment. These ashes on my head remind mommy that I am not a superhero, and I am in need of rescuing. Jesus rescues me!”

Why Ashes?

Living in the land of entitlement where we feel as though we deserve the car we are driving, the house we are living in, the food we are enjoying, and the entertainment we are consuming, we need to be somberly reminded that the only thing we actually deserve is hell. We are entitled to God’s wrath and judgment; after all, Romans 6:23a teaches us, “the wages (or payment) of sin is death.”

I will confess that so many times, I think God owes me comfort. I deserve to sit here, watch Parenthood, and eat my popcorn because I worked hard today. “God, I did laundry all day; I deserve to sleep well tonight.”
bravermans

In a dark sanctuary lit only in candles – singing songs of brokenness and repentance – I would join a line of other sinners, who like me, were in need of a reminder. It was our sin; it was my sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.

Looking into a mirror, I take the ashes and paint my forehead with a cross. From dust I came and to dust I will return. No, I am not immortal. I will die. Someday soon I will find myself lying in a casket. Looking in the mirror, I pray that I would see myself for who I truly am – a sinner in need of grace. But there is more to it than that. I was not left to merely be consumed as ashes, but Christ covered me with beauty through pouring out His blood on the cross.

There is something bittersweet about mourning. My husband tells me I am really good at mourning. Lament could possibly be my spiritual gift. I find myself thinking and turning my thoughts towards why I sin. Oh how often I feel the heaviness of sin, and I cannot wait to see heaven’s gates open up. Then, and only then will I no longer have the desire to bow down to other loves. God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus for my sin, and He has not wrath remaining for me. Therefore, I can run freely to His throne. I don’t have to hide my sin; He knows it all, and yet He still loves me – and it’s all because of Jesus.

Mourning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

And so we turn off our television set, not to show how much self-control we have, or even that we are keeping ourselves from something the Lord has given us to enjoy. No, we turn of the tube to ask the Lord to remind us that all we really need is Him, and that all things are a gift, even watching the Bravermans.

Seriously….Let It Go!

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This. Song. Will. Not. Let. Us. Go.

At the Oscars on Sunday night, the Tony Award-winning Broadway star Idina Menzel belted out “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. Not only did she receive a standing ovation from the crowd, but the song even won an Oscar. If you’re anything like me, you can’t get this song out of your head.

There I was cleaning the kitchen and performing what I thought was a riveting rendition of “Let It Go.” Welcome to my life – the world of Disney. It’s a magical place where dreams come true.

I was making crystal ice castles out of thin air, and my spirits were soaring along with the song. That is, until my 4-year old little girl (who is a Frozen expert), said “Mommy, you don’t look like Elsa at all!”

What! I was shocked! “Is it the nasty yellow sweatpants I have on or my seriously crazy-looking eye brows that need a good waxing?”

NO, I don’t look like Elsa, but at least my eyes are in proportion to my wrists.

Although Elsa and I apparently look nothing alike, we share one thing in common: we both love to hide.

I hide in a number of ways. I frequently cancel appointments with friends; I don’t answer phone calls. Often, I simply run into the bathroom and lock the door. Much of the time, I get lost behind the screen of my I-Phone. In doing so, I’m building my own “Kingdom of Isolation” – a kingdom in which I’m the queen.

“No, I don’t want to build a snowman. Can you just take your cuteness somewhere else and leave me alone?”

Why do we hide?

The phrase, “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them see,” is something that many women can relate to. We know the awful, ugly, hideous sin that we are capable of and we dread the thought of others seeing it. We’re afraid for them to know the real us, because if they did, there’s no way we would be accepted (or at least that’s what we think).


Because we are petrified of being exposed for who we really are, we hide. Sometimes we simply lie and say we are doing great (when we know we’re not). If and when we speak about our sin, we tend to speak in very general terms, avoiding the details that genuine humility and confession requires. Other times, we don’t say much at all; we simply smile through the pain of the condemnation that we feel on the inside.

Be The Good Girl You Always Have To Be

Every time I hear this line from “Let it Go,” I’m reminded that in and of ourselves, we can’t be the “good girls” we’re supposed to be. In fact, the Bible teaches us that the only goodness in us is the righteousness that we receive from Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:10, 2 Cor. 5:21). The church is not for good people. It is for people that realize they need a goodness and righteousness outside of themselves; it is for people who trust in the goodness of another Person – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even once we are Christians, we don’t have it all together. We still sin. Historically, some have held to the view that when we become Christians, we just stop sinning altogether. Even if we believe this to be impossible, perhaps we subconsciously live with this expectation of perfection. In those cases, no wonder why so many of us freak out when we sin and are sent into a whirlwind of confusion and doubt. Listen, I get it. It would be great to not sin anymore – and someday in glory, we won’t. But in the mean time, we have to, “let it go.”

Now, when I speak of sin and say, “let it go,” I don’t in any way mean to belittle the magnitude of sin, nor the hatred that God has towards it. Christian, we must not “be okay” with our sin. Rather, we must “be killing our sin, or our sin will be killing us” (to quote the old Puritan, John Owen).

However, when we think about our remaining sin, we have to “let it go” in the realization that because of the cross of Jesus Christ, we have been forgiven of all of our sins – past, present, and future. Every single ounce of the wrath that we deserved was poured out on Christ Jesus. When God let Christ go to the cross, He let our sin go with Him. Our sin record was “let go” when the blood flowed from the side of the Son of God; sisters, if God can let it go, we too, must let it go. It displeases God when we seek to pay for something that has already been paid for. Jesus died for our sin not so that we could live in guilt and condemnation, but so that we could experience peace, joy, forgiveness, and freedom.

It is only trusting in this Jesus and His deep love for us that can melt a frozen heart

Don’t be shocked by your sin. When you sin, run to the arms of Christ and be thankful that even your sin reminds you of your great need of a Savior. As one of my favorite songs says, “the only fitness He requireth is to feel your need of Him.”
So, what happens when we are found out, and we are standing there exposed? Like Elsa, do we cry, run away, and hide in a castle up on a mountain?
We cannot escape ourselves by escaping people. God uses people to reveal our sin so we can come to Him for healing.

frozen

The Christian life was not designed to be lived in isolation. If fact, it can’t be lived in isolation. We are the body of Christ. We need one another. In fact, there are nearly 60 “one another” passages in the New Testament. Without other Christians in our lives who love us enough to tell us the truth, and to correct us when necessary, we’ll never finish the race.

The beauty of the Gospel is that we are already exposed. All of our sins and flaws were exposed the day Christ was nailed to a tree. When Jesus died, He announced to the world, “She is a sinner!”

Because we’ve already been exposed, there’s no longer any reason to hide. Let us strive to be real, take of the mask, and stop concealing. We’ve been found out, and yet God chooses to freely accept us.

Paraphrasing from Tim Keller, in any relationship, to be loved and not fully known is comforting, but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved (still), is unbelievably rare, and yet that’s exactly what it’s like to be loved by God. This God became a Man and He died in our place – not because of how great we are – but in spite of how sinful and rebellious we’ve all been.

Let it go, sisters.

Bitter Sweet

Finally!! The 10-pound bag of Halloween candy that was wreaking havoc on our home has been “donated” to a good cause (aka, destroying the sanity of another unsuspecting family in our church). To be honest, I was eating more candy than my kids, so it had to go. It was a bad-day-binge-session waiting to happen.

However, before I parted ways with the bag of refined sugar, I needed one more high (yes, I’ll be drinking a green smoothie after to make up for it). I tore into a bag of Skittles and was expecting to taste a bit of “rainbow” in my mouth but this wasn’t just any Skittle – it was a sour Skittle. SICK!!! I was repulsed. My jaw locked, eyes started to water and just as I was about to spit out the bitterness, I started to taste something . . . sweet. What a nice little surprise for my taste buds; hidden within the bitterness was a chewy sweetness. The rainbow tastes good! The entire bag was devoured. I was amazed at how sweet the Skittle tasted compared to the sour punch in the beginning.

Our sin is something like my snack of sour-Skittles.

As a Christian I will still sin, but why am I so surprised when I do? It always gives me an unexpected sucker punch to the gut.

In these cases, typically my shock is quickly turned to anger, because I am once again reminded of the painful and bitter reality that I am STILL a sinner. “God, if you are all-powerful, then why I am I still so messed up?” My poor kids are going to be so scarred because of me. If only they could have a good mother, I think to myself. My “imaginary goodness,” as Charles Spurgeon calls it, was merely setting me up for failure. I was definitely not “okay” with “not being okay.” So often I wear a mask pretending to have it all together, and at times even convincing myself that I really do have it all together, only to be abruptly reminded that I’d deceived myself once more.

I wanted to spit out this foul taste of bitterness in my mouth – that is, the admission that I’m still a sinner – so I did.

This day ended with me lying in the fetal position on the bed. Yet all I needed to do was to accept the bitter-sweet. Because I was refusing to accept the bitter, “yes, I am still a sinner,” I was not allowing my soul to taste the sweetness of His grace.

What good comes out of sin? How can God takes something bitter (my sin) and make it sweet?

1.) Sin reminds us that we are still . . . “not good.”
We don’t have it together; we are unfaithful; we love ourselves more than God and others. Sin is a big reminder that we can’t do it. We cannot be good enough, love enough, smile enough, serve enough – our very best will never be enough.

Although we may be in shock to find out that we are not “good,” Jesus is not remotely surprised. In fact, He died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). He died for our past, present and future sin. However, we must remind ourselves that as bitter as this sin may be, we do not have to drink the bitter cup of God’s wrath. Jesus drank that cup for us, and not one little drop of God’s wrath remains for His children. Sweet!

2.) When compared to the bitterness of my sin, GRACE is amazingly sweet.

When I think I am sweet in and of myself, I don’t get grace. But when I accept that I am a sinner, all of the sudden GRACE becomes incredibly SWEET! Grace becomes an unexpected and undeserved surprise. Much like the crazy flavor to follow extreme bitterness of the Skittles, it catches us off guard. Grace can uniquely catch us unaware, and yet there is no surprise in the world that can compare.

Truth be told, yesterday, I was feeling guilty because the Lord was opening up speaking opportunities at churches. I was thinking, “God, I know you don’t make many mistakes, but this seems fairly close.” I do not feel qualified to teach other women when I am so sinful! I do not feel worthy of this honor. God was pouring out His grace upon me and I was struggling to accept it. I like to know that if I do “A,” then I get “B” in return. However, grace gives regardless of how I perform (or don’t perform). When I deserve it least, it still comes. Don’t resist the sweetness; let it flow!

3.) My children get to see a mom who is totally messed up, and this is SWEET. Why? Because while on one hand they see their mother’s sin, at the same time they get to hear that God still loves their mommy. They are seeing the Gospel living out right in front of their eyes. Yes, they see their mommy sin, but they also get to hear their mom repent and ask for their forgiveness.

More Sweetness!!!

4.) Through the bitterness of sin we are experiencing the sweetness of grace. As the Puritan Thomas Watson said, “The glass is emptied first before you pour in the wine. God first empties a man of himself, before he pours in the precious wine of his grace.” Until we see how messed up we are (bitter), we will not taste His sweetness! Until we realize how messed up we are, we’ll never see how glorious Jesus Christ is. Until we see our own poverty, we’ll never see His riches. We’ll never put on a robe of Christ’s righteousness unless we realize that we are spiritually naked. Jesus Christ will never be beautiful to us until we realize how ugly we are without Him.

Grace is shocking, isn’t it? Unexpected sweetness