Skin(ny Jean) Deep

Christianity has got to be more than fitting in with the cool crowd. It has got to be more than the latest fashion trend or popular #hashtag. Let’s be honest, if any of you have ever worn something (skinny jeans for example) just because it’s the style and all your friends are wearing them you’ll relate with what I’m about to say next.

I got my first pair of skinny jeans when I was a freshman in high school.

Yeah I know, I was late to the trend, but I felt super cool in them and they were my favorite jeans. I especially loved them when I found out that the really radical, Jesus-loving Christians that I looked up to and wanted to join, wore them. These days–I live in a community of skinny jeans, Toms, beanies and flannel shirts. (I may or may not have been describing my outfit from yesterday). None of these things are wrong, in fact, I find them quite comfortable, but it is definitely a picture of what kind of culture surrounds me.

Take a look at the “hipster” (whatever that means) Christian of today. Gather 25,000+ at a conference like one I was at in December and you get a pretty good feel for what they (or we) look like. In fact, after awhile every single youth group, campus connect, and college core group starts to look the same because they all sport the same trendy, edgy, “I’m-too-cool /too-vegan /too-broke /too-Christian-to-wear-anything-but-what-my-friends-are-wearing” look.

Now before you think I’m being hypocritical and judging people’s spiritual lives based on their outfits, which would be pretty shallow of me, please understand that I’m not. I could never suppose anything about someone’s spiritual life based on their clothes. God sees what man does not and I am no one to say if someone doesn’t have a deep relationship with the Lord or not. The Bible does teach that we are to know people by their fruit, but that’s a blog post for another day. The point is–the issue I’m hitting at is one I see in myself.

Sometimes we wear Christianity like we wear our skinny jeans.

It’s cool. It makes us feel good. It’s what our crowd wears. But what happens when you, your skinny jeans and beanie move to western Kansas where the “cool” thing to wear is boots, Camo and a cowboy hat? Suddenly it’s not so easy to keep wearing what you’ve always worn.

I think my generation has learned very quickly how to adapt and blend in. We know how to fit the norm, and when that changes, so do we. But because of that we don’t really know who we are and the things that ought to define us are easily tossed aside. It’s one thing to be the Christian who worships at the front, prays all day, and loves to serve others when you are surrounded by a community that defines that as “radical Christianity”. It is completely another thing to be that person with people who don’t understand you, think you’re weird and don’t love Jesus. Most adults are shocked at the statistic that 75% of teenagers leave the church after high school yet from my vantage point in my generation, I can see that it’s because they’re skinny jean deep.

It’s gotta be more than talk. It’s gotta be deeper than my skinny jeans.

Like I said, I see this in me. There are several areas in my life that have prodded this topic out of me. It’s caused me to come to terms with who I am and say, “I need the real thing”. I can’t just have the appearance of a life of prayer because my schedule demands it and it’s the cool thing to be doing (see my page on IHOPKC to find out what I mean by this). If I’m going to spend the rest of my life building the House of Prayer (wherever God leads) then I need something a little deeper than my skinny jeans. Because, yeah prayer is cool when we’re all packed into a room pacing and singing but if I don’t actually meet with the Man on the emerald throne, am I really praying? And if everyone else left the room and no one thought prayer was important anymore, would I stay? My heart breaks as I see the lack of true prayer in my own life. I would hope that I would be one who stayed–not for the sake of looking “radical”–but for the great honor, the great privilege of being with Him. 

Jesus can’t be like the cool pair of pants you put on. He’s not a trend. He’s a person.

What’s the point in wearing the right t-shirts, supporting the right causes and going to the right church retreats all for the sake of “appearance” if you don’t actually have anything authentic going on on the inside? It’s terribly sad that 75% of my generation leaves the Church after high school, most, never to return. And why? Because that’s what happens when Church is something you do instead of something you live and when Christianity is something you put on yourself, instead of something you put in yourself. 

If you never knew you could form a deep friendship with God because you were so busy wearing the skinny jeans (i.e. looking the part) I’m here to tell you, you can. (And you can even keep wearing actual skinny jeans if you like). It starts with getting alone, and talking to God. It’s one thing to change what you wear based on the people you’re around, but when you’re around the Maker of the Universe, you can’t change or hide a thing. You also don’t have to–you will find acceptance in His presence. He’ll win you over in that place, where prayer and the Word become better than the next Friday night out, and then from that place you’ll live deeper than skinny jeans. Then it doesn’t matter so much if you’re praying alone or in front of thousands or if loving Jesus is cool or uncool, because regardless of any of it, it’ll be real.

Change In My Pocket

It’s been forever since I’ve posted a poem, so here’s a recent work (and there’s more to come, I promise). Also, if you’d take a moment to check it out, I have some new formatting. You can now find all of my poems individually in drop down pages at the top. I will still keep posting them as a regular post, but now it’ll be easier to find old ones or some you’ve never read. I hope you enjoy!

_______________________________________________________________________________

I’ve got change in my pocket

Each coin a memory

Of a purchase paid

A sacrifice made

And with all its jingling and jangling

Its asking

Was it worth it?

Every expenditure means

Something lost for

Something gained

And I guess my understanding of this is

Ingrained

But somehow I forgot

That all of this change

Is creating something in me

Unchained

One purchase

Just a little bit more free

One sacrifice

Just a little bit more free

One decision

Just a little bit more free

Quarters and nickels and all

Each going toward a call

Of a caged bird singing

Searching for meaning

And finally breathing

Yes all that jingling and jangling

Is asking

Was it worth it?

When all I’ve got

Left are pennies and dimes

But now a whole new currency of thought

Is running through my mind

Like adding new colors to sight

And new words to rhyme

I guess I could say

It was worth it.

It was worth it to make those choices

To spend that time

Count the cost

And make the climb

Reaching for a future still undefined

Now my

Hands are no longer tied

My eyes no longer blind

And I’m finally looking forward

No longer trying to hide

Finally allowing this change

To take place inside

One Like the Son of Man

Turn to the first chapter of Revelation. Here writes a man who’s seen it all. He who was once a “Son of Thunder” (Mk. 3:17) can now look back upon his life and see how the tender Master had loved him into something different. He who once lay back against Jesus’ breast, whose feet were washed by the Servant of all, and who saw his Lord crucified, is the same man now exiled and aged. He not only got to see, hear and touch the Word of Life, the resurrected Savior, but also watched Him ascend to glory. And now years have passed and the Gospel has spread among the nations; the light is growing. As persecution increases from both Jerusalem and Rome, one by one he watches as his companions and brothers in the faith are martyred. Stephen stoned, Peter crucified, Paul beheaded. Still, a faithful witness, he finds himself on the island of Patmos. Can you imagine the longing for Jesus that John felt? Surely He missed his dear Lord and Friend. And this is where we find him, in the Spirit on the Lord ’s Day.

“And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man (Rev. 1:12-13)

Imagine the recognition in John’s voice as he declares, “He’s like the Son of Man!” He knew this man. It’s almost like he was saying, “He’s like Jesus! I know this man! He’s the one who first  called me from my old life, the one who let us touch the scars in His hands after His resurrection, the one who breathed on us to give the Holy Spirit, and the one who ascended in the clouds! I know this man!”

Jesus’ favorite description of Himself, used more than 65 times in the Gospels, was “the Son of Man”. Through this He was alluding to the title, “The Son of Man”—who comes on the clouds—found in Daniel 7. His audience would have known the Old Testament prophecy and thus He began subtly introducing His identity. Yet the Gospel’s only show a partial glimpse of the person of Jesus; we only see Him dimly. The Revelation of Jesus Christ connects the Son of Man in the Gospels with the Alpha and Omega, the Son of God who ascended to His Father in glory. John makes the bold statement, connecting in Jewish and Gentile minds the Old Testament Jesus, the crucified and risen Jesus and the coming again on the clouds Jesus. When He says, “One like the Son of Man” there is no question as to who He is talking about.

With the book of Revelation, suddenly our understanding of who Jesus is expands. This is why we cannot ignore the end of the story! Not only are the descriptions of Jesus, the Father and the throne room glorious, but we see the character of God in every event and every passage. Jesus goes from riding a donkey in humility to riding a white horse with authority. He goes from being silent, led like a lamb to the slaughter, to one who descends with a mighty shout!

Take time to meditate on Revelation 1:12-17. Jesus is the one whose eyes are like a flame of fire and whose voice is as the sound of many waters. His wisdom is infinite, His leadership is perfect and His face is shinning like the sun in its strength. How can we not take time to slow down and behold this beautiful Man?

Scars in His Hands

Most read the book of Revelation and just see the gruesome battles, unparalleled destruction, persecution and freaky monsters. Yet the title of this book is not the revelation of the Antichrist; it’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The entire Bible is a beautiful story and we must be ones who know the end. But to know the end, you can’t be afraid to approach the God of the end. Many avoid reading the book of Revelation because their understanding of God does not fit with what they find there. Thus, before study and understanding of this beautiful book can begin, each of us must decide one thing: that we trust Him.

How can we know we can trust a God we cannot see? How can we be sure that He has our best interest in mind—though pain and suffering still abounds in this world—and that He’s not against us, but for us? How can we be sure, absolutely sure, that we can trust Him?

My answer is simple: because of the person of Jesus.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:6 that God has shone the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that if we had seen Him, we would have seen the Father (Jn. 14:7-9). Jesus is the exact image of God (Heb 1:3) and through His character we can see the heart of God.

One of my favorite passages on Jesus is found in Isaiah 42. It so closely parallels Jesus the Suffering Servant with Jesus the Righteous Judge of the earth. We are shown a man who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return and when He suffered He did not threaten (1 Pet. 2:23). Alongside this is Jesus as the one who “will not fail nor be discouraged until He establishes justice in the earth”.

He is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. We can trust His leadership and every detail and plan laid out in the book of Revelation because He Himself has walked the road of suffering and He Himself bears scars in His hands.

See the youtube video I made here:

And a recording of the same poem on soundcloud here:

10 Things I Learned About Chipotle (and Myself) in the Last Year

So today marks 1 year of working at Chipotle! What a wonderful success, lasting so long in such a tough environment. Of course if I line up next to some of the managers and crew at my store, my one year doesn’t really seem like much, but I’m going to count it as an accomplishment either way. Here’s 10 things I’ve learned

1) Chipotle is changing the way fast food works. Seriously, those of you who don’t know the ins and outs of Chipotle ought to do some research. It’s called food with integrity. We’re a fast-casual restaurant that makes fresh food every day from organic, locally grown ingredients (when seasonal), that buys meat from ethically raised animal farms and holds high standards for our food, customer experience and hiring quality crew members.  We look for crew with 13 specific characteristics, we take pride in our food not only tasting great but also looking great on the line and guys, we don’t even have a microwave in the store. This ain’t no Taco Bell or Wendy’s. 

2) One person’s work, high standards and attitude can affect the whole store. I like to imagine our store as one giant robot. Each of us have specific duties (buttons to push, levers to pull, gears to shift) to make the robot walk…sing…dance…whatever you like. But it’s not possible if the person in charge of making the left leg work is late, hates being there, does sloppy work, is lazy, talks bad behind others’ backs and so on. If I come into my store and I don’t do my best, work hard and continually try to get better at my job, I’m not just hurting me, I’m hurting the rest of the crew and ultimately the customers. 

3) I am an efficiency junkie. You might laugh but I’m serious. I’ve figured out the quickest way to ask the right questions, push the right buttons, bag the food, swipe the card and hand the receipt with the least amount of wasted movement or time in between. And I plan on getting better at it. I also know the most efficient way to sweep and mop the dining room (It’s a pattern and it works but I’d have to draw a picture to show you), intermittently stock and clean while running cash and making some pretty fantastic chips.  

4) I really like Chipotle’s food. I’ve eaten it for a year and I’m not tired of it. Sometimes if I’ve had it 5 days that week, sure, I don’t care for it again a 6th time, but honestly I LOVE CHIPOTLE! Which is ironic to me because growing up my family would always go there and I’d complain until my mom gave me $20 bucks and I’d head across the street to Panera. Now look at me–working there and loving it. Oh, and this year I found out for the first time that I like guac. Actually, I love guac…but enough on that topic.

5) The food service industry is tough work. Talk about fast paced, back breaking, often-times disgusting work, and then you’ve got to deal with unhappy people on top of that. You try having raw meat up to your elbows, cleaning out drain socks and lifting 30lb ice buckets over your head. (For me, the ice bucket thing is something I take pride in the fact that I can do it). I also think of Halloween night, when I was on cash with a never ending line for 6 straight hours. I almost went insane from the stress of trying to abide by the promotional rules and still make sure everyone was happy. Next year, put me anywhere else, just not cash.

6) My parents were right. I remember my dad telling me that everyone ought to work in food service at least once in their life. Well I agree wholeheartedly. Everyone should try it out so at least they can appreciate the people making their food. It’s also beneficial to know when people are working their hardest and over stressed, or if they’re just being lazy.

7) What makes a top performer is not just what they do when it’s busy — it’s what they do when it’s not. I’ve been watching some of the newer crew members and I think you can usually tell how they’re going to work out by the way they act when there’s nobody in the line. The way it ought to be is every second should been seen as a precious gift. You always, always, always have something to do, and you’re always running behind. This is called ‘a sense of urgency’. If a crew member is just moseying around and joking, instead of accomplishing the million and one tasks they have ahead of them, they’re not a top performer. Now of course, this is an idealistic view, and no I’m not perfect at it, but I tend more than most to stay active and working hard.

8) A little encouragement goes a long way. As it turns out, most people are not motivated solely on criticism. Shocking right? But really, I’ve found over and over again that smiling, saying hello to each coworker by name and going out of your way to let them know what they’re doing well at will make your work environment so much better.

9) Customers appreciate it when we care about our food. For example, a couple weeks back I was on expo and I commented to the cashier in between customers how beautifully bright red our tomatoes looked that day. The guy coming down the line noticed and said, “It’s really awesome to know you guys take pride in your food”. Boom. This guy got it. Or there’s been other times where someone wants fajitas, but they’re all wilted and gross–so instead of just plopping them down on the bowl, I’ll say “hey, let me get you some fresh ones” and grab some from the kitchen. It’s easy (as long as you’ve had the grill person making more fajitas already) and it’s what gives a customer a unique experience.

10) My work performance level goes way up if I’ve had 8 hours of sleep the night before. I’ve done the late nights closing and then early 6am prayer room hours and after about four or five days into it…its not pretty. I remember one night working with my roommate Danielle. She was closing the line and I was closing dining. I had had a hard week and as I was going around the room mopping, barely pushing through, I basically moaned–”Danielle, I don’t think I’m gonna make it.” Thankfully this semester I’ve worked my schedule out to where I can get 8 hours of sleep every night, and my oh my does it help. I can actually be happy to be at work instead of dreading it, I can work 10x harder and accomplish so much more. Thank the Lord for more sleep.

Appreciating 24/7 Prayer and Worship

If you follow my blog, you’re probably thinking… “here we go again, she’s talking about nightwatch” and I apologize if I bore you. My school is back in full swing and although I did not get to join nightwatch this semester for financial reasons, I am more blessed, encouraged and appreciative of night and day prayer than ever before. Several times this week I’ve paused in awe at what is going on here. For example, imagine sitting in an 8am Jon Thurlow Worship with the Word set. The room is filled with people of every age and from every nationality and background singing about the beauty and worth of knowing Jesus. That’s incredible. I was so blessed to just listen to their voices and to feel the hunger swelling in the room. Everyday these people come. Day after day after day they just keep coming back to seek Jesus. You could come to the prayer room at any hour and you’ll find something like this. They’re not there just because they have to be, they’re there because they want to be. They really love Him.

Sometimes I get the chance to come a little early to the prayer room for my 6 am. The joy of that is I get to catch the tail end of the nightwatch. The other morning as I was still in the parking lot walking in I could hear Ashley Prior’s team blasting through the walls. The room was full of students, staff and interns boldly declaring the truth of God over our city. As they sang “set the captives free!!” I couldn’t help but thank Jesus again for night and day prayer. For the last 6 hours while I was asleep they had been there praying.

For 14 years there has been unceasing adoration coming from Kansas City. Just a few days ago the House of Prayer in Orlando launched 24/7. There are a many other cities with 24/7 prayer rooms and in nearly every major city in the United States you can find a small house of prayer that covers their city with 40, 50, 80, hours of prayer a week. Florida alone has 50 houses of prayer and California has even more than that. Internationally houses of prayer are rapidly exploding–Brazil, Cambodia, Israel, Germany, Egypt, England, Austria, Kenya, China, Japan…just to name a few. Even last weekend Mike Bickle said that after meeting with many missions organizations they estimate there to be over 10,000 prayer rooms across the earth. The Lord is really doing something with night and day prayer.

I’m honored. After being here for over a year and a half and seeing God unfold what He’s doing with my own eyes and even experiencing it, I’m honored to be apart of God’s story. Praise the Lord that this is not just an IHOPKC thing, it’s so much bigger than one prayer room in one city. This is the burning heart of God we’re talking about after all. Although  my current season is here, I know that where ever I go in the future I am called to be serving a house of prayer. Knowing this makes me value all of the instruction, wisdom and experience I am getting both here at school and in the prayer room.

Thank you Jesus for every step in the journey.

This is not a 19 day late New Years resolution post. I promise.

I’m sipping chai in my favorite, comfy, blue chair–the one that I took naps in as a child. I was up early serving in the 8 & 9 year old classroom at church and I’ve spent the afternoon grocery shopping, cleaning and making food for the rest of the week. My school stuff is organized and ready by the door.

The semester is about to begin and before I know it I will be in the thick of an all new class schedule, rearranged sacred trust (prayer room hours) and a resumed work schedule. I’ve been balancing all this for a year now and I’m well aware it’s going to get busy fast. But this semester I am taking extra care to be kind to myself. Yes, kind.

See, over the last year I’ve let some things go, I’ve been squished and stepped on by demands and I’ve slowly lost the ability to do things that make me happy. It was really last fall when I found out exactly how unhappy I was. The stress of my job, the weight of bills, the responsibilities with my house, the unending cycle of not enough sleep and constantly getting sick, the fight to stay awake in the prayer room and the struggle to complete my homework was wearing me down. It’s a lot for a not yet 20 year old to handle. [Note, all of this is not to complain, simply to paint a picture].

The Lord started dealing with me about all this after I had a long talk with my concerned parents (who are such a huge blessing to my life). He basically showed me how my pride was not allowing Him or anyone else to help me and that my attempts to not be weak or needy were actually slowly killing me. Things needed to change.

In the last few months the Lord has been showing me again the little things that make me happy, especially the ones I haven’t been doing. So I’ve come up with a few things I’m going to do to be kind to myself. Things like sitting in my favorite blue chair.

I might be a little cliche here, but I’m talking about things that make ME happy. So if you can’t handle cheesy, turn back now. 

1. Drive through the country with the windows down. Obviously weather permitting, but the point is to breathe fresh air, away from noise and people, taking in a beautiful view. 

2. Drink tea. Not just on the move. Actually sitting down, enjoying a cup of something warm. 

3. Sit in my favorite, comfy, blue chair. Maybe even nap in it. See I told you it was on the list. 

4. Go to the prayer room in the evening.  Just because I can and I like Jesus. 

5. Family style, homemade dinner with friends I love. Good food, good conversations, good fellowship. 

6. Do something creative. Decorate a cake, create a card, build a spaceship, write a story, make a fort. 

7. Read. Even if its required for class, I want to read to actually read, not just read in order to pass the quiz. 

8. Swing at a park. Come on, you know its fun. 

9. Sing…a lot. In the car, at my house, even in the shower. As long as it makes me happy, I don’t have to be the very best person at it. 

10. Make a new friend. Being intentional and kind to people really isn’t that hard. It just means using your time well. 

All in the name of making the list a nice and even ten, I’ll stop here. But I definitely have other goals, such as: get 8 hours of sleep every night, get a tire swing for my backyard, find a place to start doing pottery again, and maybe even get a kitten. I think a kitten would make me the happiest person in the world.