Is Jesus Really the Best?

Something I love that our church proclaims is that “Jesus is better.” He’s better than money. He’s better than marriage. He’s better than friendships. He’s better than success. He’s better than comfort. He’s better than good health. He’s better that sex. He’s better than everything.

But do you really believe that? Do I really believe that?

What makes Jesus better? What makes him better than the thrill of a road trip with great friends? What makes him better than a long embrace or the perfect kiss goodnight? What makes him better than all the money in the world- the solution to so many problems? What makes him better than a warm bed and a hot shower? What makes Jesus better than the perfect family or the most beautiful, healthy child?

What’s the secret? He’s better because when ALL of those things are gone, He’s still there. When friends have abandoned you, he’s there. When loneliness is overpowering, he’s there. When you’re broke and not sure how to pay the next bill, he’s there. When the hot water goes out, he’s there. When families gets broken, Jesus stays. When the children get hurt, have illnesses, disown their family, or pass away, Jesus. Is. There.

But not only is he there in the pain and the heartache and loss, He’s there when times are wonderful.

He’s there on your wedding day when you make forever vows. He’s there when you pass that test you stayed up all night studying for. He’s there when you barely avoid that near death totaling your car experience. He’s there when your wife gives birth to your first beautiful child. He’s there when you celebrate that new promotion and raise.

You see friends, if our lives are dependent on the momentary happiness of life’s joys, it would be a bumpy ride. When we live in the pleasures of the world (any many of life’s good things are in fact, very good things), we miss out on the pleasure of Christ. We tend to view the good moments in life as “the best thing that ever happened to me.” We tend to forget how short-lived that high is, even when it is very, very good. But as the Creator of every good thing we have, Jesus surpasses them all. Soaking in the moments of total bliss because of your team’s most perfect playoff win or the moment your first child takes his first steps or the perfect romantic evening ending with the perfect marriage proposal or the perfect snow day that allows you sleep in, spend time getting things done or have fun with your closest friends…are not bad things. But when they become the best things, life actually gets very  miserable. Because they go away so quickly. When you live for these moments, you will be disappointed. More often than not, your favorite football or basketball team will eventually lose and piss you off for the rest of the day. Your child will have many struggles, whether self-inflicted, caused by others, or both. Your romance life, or lack thereof, will inevitably have barriers and quarrels that only smarter, wiser people can help you through. Or the snow will be just little enough that you still have to go to work or school but must risk your life getting there. BUT, if your life’s joy and pleasure comes from Jesus, you will never be disappointed. When Jesus is the best possible one in your world, all other areas will actually be better too. Will life still be hard? Yes. Will there still be struggles? Absolutely. But he won’t let you down. He won’t fail you. Your hope will be sufficient. Unlike your friends, your family, your job, your car, your home, Jesus will NEVER stop being good. Because he is incapable of being anything but good. So why not believe that? Jesus is the best. He’s worth forsaking all other joy to experience all true joy. Let him be better to you, for the sake of making all good things better.

And We Can’t Stop. And We Won’t Stop.


Miley Cyrus has been all over the media lately from doing lines in the bathroom to disturbing behavior with teddy bears to nude appearances on wrecking balls.

Common things to hear, “She is the product of bad parenting, I can’t believe her parents would let her go off the deep end.” Or, “She is a terrible influence to young girls everywhere. Little girls looked up to Hannah Montana and now she’s turned into a skank.” Or, “Fame sure went to her head. She became like every other child star- a druggie who shaved her head. What a shame.”

However, when you stop and think about it, this isn’t a Miley problem. It’s not a child pop-star problem. It’s a human problem. The lyrics of one of her most recent songs, “We can’t stop,” shows the depths into the rebellion that is deeply rooted in every human soul. The problem is not Miley.

The song begins with:

“It’s our party we can do what we want

It’s our party we can say what we want

It’s our party we can love who we want”

Thank you Miley, for painting a perfect picture of the human condition for us. We live in a sense of entitlement, particularly in Western culture. We believe we can do what we want when we want because we make the rules. Don’t you dare tell us no. And this is not a generational issue; this is true of every individual with a beating heart.

Then we look to consider, why would we serve a God that is going to gives us rules? Hold us down? Tell us how to live our lives? What is appealing about that? In our minds, we are the boss. Nevermind our Creator, the Ruler of the Universe, the One who gives us the very breath in our bodies.  Miley says, “And we can’t stop. And we won’t stop.” We are not capable of stopping our sin. We are powerless against it. Not only that, we won’t stop. The mastering sin in our hearts says, “Even if I could stop, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to.” Sin and power take control over our lives, control that doesn’t belong to us.

We have been offered life- COMPLETE life. And given mobility, money, relationships, transportation, homes, communication, more than we could ask for and definitely much more than we need. Most importantly, he’s given us his very Son. Yet we can turn around and say “This is our house. This is our rules.” Screw you God.

The fact of the matter is this is not our party. This is not our life. As much as we’d like to think so, we are NOT in charge. We couldn’t be if we tried, because we don’t control the world. Maybe Miley has gone out of her mind, shaved her head, and started smoking illegal substances, but how am I any better? I just as easily turn around to say, “No God, I’m not going to give you my time this morning. I make the rules, and I don’t care about yours.” Or, “No God, I’m not going to apologize for all the hateful things I said and thought about every driver around me that made me late for work. This is my world, and they need to work for me.” How can I be so selfish? The heart behind my wickedness is no different from this pop-star. Just because people don’t see my rebellious heart on E! News, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

The moral of the story:  this is God’s party and we do what he wants. Why? Because he calls the shots. He’s the boss. He created it all and can take it away. We have no right to complain about the rules. We have no right to complain about the world around us. We have no right to rebel, do our own thing. This is not our world – it’s His – and h]He is gracious enough to let us abide in it.  To let God call the shots is not to make us suffer or strip away our freedom.  The thing is,  his design is actually the absolute best for us. He would not give us less than His best, so our submission to Him is actually more freeing than any other offer of “do what we want.” When you consider Miley Cyrus, do not judge her on the poor decisions she has made of her childhood stardom. Consider that you are the same:  broken. In need of a Savior- the true Savior. She is just as broken as the rest of us, trying to be the captain of a ship we do not have the map for. Consider His grace. That the Lord allows us to take part in His plan and participate in His world. He graciously and rightly takes the reigns over our lives if we let Him. Not to punish us, but actually to protect us. There is great love in coming before the Lord, broken, empty-handed, out of control and out of options. He cannot fill us until we are truly empty, no longer making the rules to anything. He wants to rule our hearts because He truly wants what is best for us. And what’s truly best for us is Him. Give up your control. You don’t really have it anyway.

If He Had Been Aborted

This is the story of a child I worked with. He, like many others, came from a bad home full of drugs and neglect. This is his story, and how he changed me. (For confidential purposes, his name will be “Billy”)

Billy came to the Children’s Home a behavioral mess. He was what we label, “a therapeutic child.” He needed special care. He was biting staff, yelling, locking himself in his room. But Billy got better. Fortunately, I was not not there for the hardest parts of Billy’s recovery. I have not been bitten by him. However, while he was living in the home I work in, Billy had his occasional tussle.

This particular weekend, Billy had already gotten into arguments with other kids a few times. He had thrown sand in someone’s eyes out of frustration on the playground. By the time night time came around, Billy kicked another boy where it hurts. I got onto him and sent him to his room. He stormed to his room and refused to talk. His glares were so angry they could cut glass. I walked into his room a bit later and asked, “Do you want to talk about it?” He shook his head no. I said, “Alright, then it’s time to shower. I will get your towel.” A moment of silence passed, and I saw him begin to cry. The only words he stated before he covered his face with his hands were, “I want to die.”

Now, this is a high priority situation when you work with children who battle serious trauma and depression. It took a long time for him to talk, but eventually he did. I told him I was not angry with him. I told him he was not in trouble for being angry, that it is not wrong to get angry. I told him it’s how he responds in his anger that gets him in trouble. I told him my biggest concern was not that he had gotten in trouble for kicking someone, but my biggest concern was that he wanted to die. He stated “I do!” When I asked why, he paused for a moment but through his tears said, “because I hate my life.” At first I didn’t know what to say. I had read his files. I knew the background and home he came from. I knew he had other siblings who had been adopted but he hadn’t. I knew the other boys in the house had been egging him on before he got aggressive. All I could say was, “I don’t want you to die.” He didn’t believe me. I said again, “I care about you, Billy. I know a lot of people who care about you.” I named the staff and his peers. “I know there are a lot of things going wrong, but they don’t want you to die either. We want to see you succeed.” While I was doing everything in my power not to cry alongside him, he walked away.

Now, fast forward to the next day. He saw me walk in that morning and threw his arms around me with his precious Billy smile. I hugged him back and smiled, “Are we good?” Billy said, “Yeah we’re good Miss Stacey. Sorry about last night. I wasn’t mad at you. Can I have my picture back?” (While he was mad, he had taken a picture he had of me and thrown it out of his photo album). We talked about what had happened. We talked about the great things in his life. We talked about what happens when he gets mad and says things he doesn’t mean. We talked about the improvement he’s made in his time with us. As we talked, I could not help but be so proud of him and his processing skills. I experienced unconditional love – that in his darkest moments and his brightest moments, I loved him no matter what and was proud of how far he has come.

Billy has had a hard life. He came in kicking and screaming (literally) but recently left our cottage to live with some boys that are on a more basic level of care. He gets to live with the “easy” kids. He gets more freedoms. He has given me so much hope for the rest of my boys. He’s shown a true transformation. He’s given me the opportunity, even in that hard moment, to affirm my love for him. He allowed me to work through true anger and sadness in a child. He has latched to a part of  my heart that I can only assume was meant for my own children. I don’t see him everyday, but I love that boy. I love how much he loves the Bible. I love how he loves to sing worship songs. One of my favorite Billy qualities is when he asks to see my phone so he can look up a worship song to show me on YouTube. I pray his heart will remain in Jesus. We once had a conversation about his anger towards other kids because of their sin. He recognizes sin, knows what is wrong, and knows God’s opinion on it. The biggest way I can describe Billy in one word is…potential. He has so much potential to become so many things. An artist. A paleontologist. A godly husband. A loving father. An amazing friend.

But what if he had been aborted? What if his drug addicted mother had said, “Oh no, I’m not having another one”? She obviously couldn’t parent, so what if she had just ended it before it started? In the moment he was wishing he was dead, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if he had died? His life has its dark times, but his life has value. He knows it, and I got to play a role in showing him that. I never would have gotten to tell him how much I care about him if he had been aborted. I never would have gotten to tell him I didn’t want him to die because he would be dead. I’m not trying to make a big political statement, just a true story of a child who didn’t deserve to die. A child who came from the worst circumstances into one of the most beautifully flourishing minds I have ever encountered. A child who defines potential. A child who proves that bad home life does not define you. Only your Creator can do that.

The only thing a woman chooses during abortion is whether or not she will strip away her child’s potential. An unborn child is a lost potential. Another Billy is lost. Circumstances don’t matter. How a pregnancy occurred is not my highest concern, accidental or not. The reality is that birth leads to huge open doors. Even the worst circumstances can’t stop a child from becoming a mighty warrior. I hate the lives my kids at work have lived. I hate knowing what they have gone through. Even I have days where I think, would it have been better if they just hadn’t been born? But the answer is no. Their lives have such value. On a personal level, their lives have changed me. It breaks my heart to imagine a world without my kids at the Children’s Home. If they had never been born, there would be less miracles. There would be less grace. I see God’s grace over these children every day. They are still alive. They are healing. And they have potential to change the world. I have seen it. You may agree with a woman’s right to choose, but please never say abortion is helping the world. Children are helping the world.

What Women Want

I know the title of this post is intriguing, but I must start with the disclaimer that I cannot accurately answer “what women want” universally. I can’t tell you what all women want. Sorry.

what women want

I saw this picture awhile back on Pinterest, and I must admit that it cracked me up. It’s so true! That’s exactly how women in our society are. We don’t know what we want, but whatever we want, we don’t want to wait for it.

HOWEVER…I’ve had a new idea recently about women (myself being one of them). I think it might be a lie that women don’t know what they want. Society says this is true. Men say this is true. And even women say this is true of themselves. I tell myself that often, that I’m indecisive because I just don’t know what I want. But I’m starting to think it’s not true. I’m starting to think women actually do know what they want. I can really only speak for myself, but I believe women know what they want. The problem is that they don’t want to (or are unable to) admit it. Women don’t want to voice what they want because they are afraid it won’t happen. They are afraid of failure. They are afraid of rejection. I’ve recently become convinced that it’s not actually an issue of knowing what we want, but that we know exactly what we want and are greatly afraid of never having those wants satisfied.

Things to think about:

Women often want security, specifically in relationships. It’s hard for a woman to admit it, especially when she is single, because what if she never achieves that? What if I say I want security and never feel secure in any relationship? It’s better not to know that’s what I’m craving…right?

Another example for the single ladies: sometimes women find themselves with their eye on a particular man but do not want to say “HE is who I want” because what if HE is not interested? What if he likes me too, but I end up with a broken heart? So we say, “No I don’t want that. I don’t know what I want.” It isn’t worth the risk. Right?

Women often want affirmation. Whether it’s from a man or friends or their boss, women want to know they are important and needed. Women could fish for compliments all day long and never say, “What I want is to be affirmed.” Instead we say, “I don’t know what I want, but whatever it is, I don’t think I am getting it.”

Another incidence: a married woman just wants her husband to help around the house. She feels she is doing all of the work, and he does not contribute his part. She does not always say, “I just want you to help out around here. I do everything – with the kids, with the cleaning, with the errands – and I need your help.” Often women say nothing in this situation or say something else or hold resentment because they want their husbands to want to help. Instead of saying what they want in a reasonable fashion, it becomes a guessing game. (Note to any men reading this: I’m sorry that we do this, we really should just tell you what we want instead of making you guess. Your patience with women is much needed and appreciated)

A last example: many women (and people in general) say they don’t know what they want to do with their lives. They don’t know what job they want. While it can be a result of lack of direction or ambition, it can also be a fear to fail. I don’t want to decide what job I really want because what if I never get it? “Well, I don’t know if I really want that promotion” can be another way of saying, “If I tell people I want a promotion and don’t get it, I failed.”

I’m afraid we sell ourselves short as women. We ascribe to a lack of critical thinking skills by saying we just don’t know what we want. We claim we don’t know ourselves well enough. But we do. We are intelligent human beings. We know what we want. We know when we want love or security or affirmation or success or a sense of belonging. We know when we want to be acknowledged. We know when we want to love and to serve and to learn. We are not second rate citizens. We must be able to confront our wants and say, “This is what I want.” The scary thing about that is that very often wants are not met. Many times our wants are not good things (which is why the Lord is good in withholding them), but we must come with honesty. We must first say, “This is what my heart wants,” and then decipher whether it is good. Once we know what we want, we can more critically analyze our hearts. We can say, “Why am I wanting this? Is this good? Is this something God provides me?” Only when we first admit what we want can we dig deeper into our own selves.

Women, you know what you want. Don’t fear knowing it. Don’t use the excuse of “women don’t know what they want” anymore. Don’t be a sell out. What you want might be bad, but you need to know it to change it. Bring your wants to Jesus. If they’re wrong, he’ll fix them. He knows what you want already, but more importantly he knows what you need. And what you need is Him. He’ll show you Himself, and he’ll likely show you yourself in the process.

A Lesson in Humility

I learn a lot of lessons at my job every day. One of the more recent ones has been hard, but oh so good for my soul.  domestic violence

For those who don’t know, I work with abused and traumatized children, which to say the least, keeps my work interesting. I’ve learned that children who are taken away from their families, the only place they know as home, by a stranger with a badge and brought to a place in Lubbock called “The Children’s Home” and told they will never see their parents again, have no reason to trust me. I’m just the nice lady that works there that gives them rules they have never heard of and have taken the place of their family that can never be replaced. While rules, discipline, and bed time may be the “norm” in most American homes, this is not normal for the children that come into our care. Their family may have been completely dysfunctional, but it was the only thing they knew as home, as normal.

domestic violence 3I am a stranger to these kids. I know they have no reason to trust me, which is why many of them don’t. Adults in the past that they trusted hurt them badly. They were beaten. They were sexually abused. Often by people who claimed to love and care about them. I can say I am safe, that I will do them no harm, but they have good reason not to believe it.

This has been a humbling experience. In  my eyes, I often want to say, “But look at me! Look how good I am! I go to church. I read the Bible. I pray. I’m nice! I’m safe!” It can be a hit to the pride to know none of those things matter, to know that I can’t be “good enough” for them. In the eyes of a child who has been let down time and time again by adults, it doesn’t matter what you have to bring to the table. You have nothing. You are just another adult. And you are not my family.

Realizing this reminded me of my relationship with Jesus. I often want to come on the defense, like I do with my kids at work. “But God, look at me! I’m doing all these good things for you. Aren’t I making you proud? Do you love me more now?” God knows my heart. He knows I am another sinner, just like I’m only another adult to my kids. He looks at my works and says, “How could you possibly think this work of yours will make me love you more? You come with nothing.”

If it ended there, this would be terrible news. If it ended there, I would leave believing that God sees me as just another worthless sinner, not at all worth trusting, and not at all worth His time. But it doesn’t end there. No, my good deeds and morality don’t cause God to love me more. Because he CAN’T love me more. He loves me now to the full extent to which he can love. Let me tell you, friends, that is a lot of love. I will never be more loved by God than I am in this very moment. You will never be more loved by God than you are this very moment. My good works mean nothing. I don’t earn a thing. I can’t earn it. If I was to earn anything, it would end the same way my children at work see me, a stranger who is not worth trusting. Just another sinner, full of evil. But it ends with grace.

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Shane and Shane at their CD release concert. The name of their new CD is “Bring your nothing.”
empty cupShane Bernard made an awesome statement that stuck with me. To paraphrase, he said all we have to bring is nothing. And that is all that God requires. This is what makes Christianity different from every religion in the world. It makes it the opposite of every religion. Religions tell you, “Bring SOMETHING. You need to bring something to the throne of God and then he might forgive your wickedness. Bring something to show you are worthy, to show you are sorry.” That’s not what the Bible says. God requires nothing. This is his one requirement. All we have to bring is our sin. So we come with our sin and an empty cup and tell God this is all we have. You have no reason to trust us. You have no reason to show us favor, to believe us when we say we’re sorry. You have no reason to think of us as nice or safe people. We come with an empty cup and empty hands, with nothing to offer. Then, he overflows our cup with his love. He gives us life and He gives us Himself – things opposite of what our sin has earned us. That is grace, my friends. THAT…is grace.

empty hands

True Love

Sometimes I find things. And I think, YES. I couldn’t have said it better. This is one of those times. John Piper, Matt Chandler, and David Crowder are all men I respect. No additional comments are necessarily on this post. Just watch this video. Believe it’s true. It’s worth 6 minutes of your time. He loves us greatly.


Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is so right when he says this. All throughout college I struggled the “what I should do with my life” battle. I’d say that’s very common. While some come to college and know with all their heart they want to be a nurse or a teacher or a pastor, that was not my story. I felt like I needed to know what I was going to do. All my life, I had a plan for everything. Yet, when school was said and done, I had no plan.

What are you supposed to do when there is no plan? There were a lot of things I felt like I was “supposed” to do. Lots of things I felt I needed to do to please a lot of people. Grad school. Ministry. Move back home. However, I learned a lot about myself that Dave Ramsey so clearly portrays in this quote.

Passion. I found it, but it wasn’t where I expected it to be. It wasn’t necessarily in what other people wanted me to do. I found a passion for children that I had always had, but finally found a place to put it. I found it in social work.

Chances are, your passion is not the same as mine. Chances are we have very different interests. But chances are you love something. I have found an area I can work in and do well. This is my ministry. To enrich the lives of children in my care – the abused and the broken. I am learning every day how to do that well. I will continue to do this until I become excellent, then continue to work excellently. Excellent at caring for families. Excellent at being Jesus to those who need healing. Excellent in my pursuit of people’s progress and not quick to give up on them.

Christian culture today preaches a message of humility. And we should fight to submit ourselves to humility daily. However, this is an idea that has been misinterpreted and abused. Many take it to mean having a “modest” attitude about your work or talents. It is so common to hear someone say “Oh no, I’m really not that good” when given a compliment. It is not wrong to be good at something. That is not a sin. Even Paul calls himself a “skilled master builder” (1 Cor. 3:10) when it comes to his ministry. He has taken the time to become excellent and while he still boasts in the Lord and not himself, he does not undermine his abilities.

Find what you are good at and do it well. As a Christian, this does not have to be church ministry, but it surely can be. There are those who get paid to do ministry in the church and those who get paid to do ministry outside the church. Wherever you are, be all there. Use your work, your school, your ministry to bring glory to God. Become a skilled master builder at what you do. Don’t wish  you had someone else’s dreams or someone else’s passion. What a waste of time. Use your talents, hobbies, and abilities.

God has created you exactly how you are and exactly who you are in the exact place you are. Be there and do it well.