Each day, each hour is a worthy fight to remember our greatest love in the world. One way for you and me to fight our temptation to wander toward lesser things is to remember the love and pursuit of God.
Read more of my thoughts on this at Desiring God: https://bit.ly/2HZRIrj
Also, stay tuned for an exciting announcement at the end of February!
Recently, I was asked a peculiar but sincere question during an open-mic Q&A. The young white man asked: Can I celebrate my whiteness or my white culture? I quickly discerned both inquiry and pain. Later I would learn that the man is a single-dad, raising two young boys who he wants to equip and disciple well. He has also been trying to gain understanding about racial reconciliation and in many ways has found himself perplexed and maybe even weighed down by the realities of our history. I didn’t know all of that when I answered but I also sense this same wrestling with other people as they begin their own journey into ethic diversity, biblical theology, and historical sins.
My heart was filled with a desire to love and serve him while also speaking the truth in love. With that same desire, I want to write my two-part answer here.
You already do
Whether intentionally or not, if you are a white American you are continually celebrating your whiteness in this country. Whether it is through the textbooks we read, the music overhead in our coffee shops, the movies we watch, or the seminaries we attend. You will find that these touch points are dominated by white culture, history, music, theologians, and the like. And you are likely, even if unintentionally, celebrating your heritage as well. It is not difficult to celebrate who you are in the American context.
But, yes, of course
You are an ethnicity and when we talk about racial diversity and all of the nations, you who are white are included! I can see how it might not seem so. Most of my emphasis when talking about studying those who are not like us is definitely about those people and cultures that have been neglected in the American context. But as a mother to two biracial children, I want them to not only know their Black heritage, I am just as eager for them to know and understand their British heritage. We don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. We can instead learn to celebrate both.
Our problem is not so much that we don’t know how to celebrate ourselves it’s that we lack the intentionality to learn and celebrate others. We struggle to love our neighbor as ourselves through gaining knowledge and understanding. We hold our culture or our ethnicity up as superior even if we don’t realize we are doing it, and often intentionally. We are the center of our universe.
I don’t believe that was the case of the man who asked this question and I imagine there are many who are sincerely wrestling with these same questions. If God has revealed a bias or partiality or racial pride in your life, praise him for that grace. It’s his kindness that leads us to repentance. If God is awakening you to the realities of our history and it has become a painful journey—press in to that, don’t push it away. Ask good questions, study history. Lamenting is a good practice (thank you, Psalms!).
Most of all, remember the gospel and all that Jesus has done for us through his blood. There’s much to lament but oh man is there so much to rejoice about. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are one even if we aren’t living in this reality. My prayer is that we would begin to live in the reality of what Jesus has accomplished for us.
Let me end by saying that I’m writing this in an airport as part of my first drafts series, which means that there’s so much more that likely could be said.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)
Inquisitive and tender, vivacious and loyal—that is how I’d describe my son and daughter respectively. They’re both intelligent and fun, undoubtedly two of the greatest gifts the Lord has given my husband and me.
We couldn’t love them more—which is why the stories of Abraham and Isaac and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus are absolutely remarkable to me….
If God was willing to sacrifice his Son for us, why would we ever doubt anything else that God says or does? Why would we not trust his promise to give us ‘all things’?
If God Is For Us
is a six-week study of Romans 8. Grab your copy here: If God Is For Us
I’ve always been intrigued by the scene in Mark 9: 14-29. The disciples tried to cast out an unclean spirit and failed to do so. The father pleads with Jesus to help his son. Jesus asked him a question and the father answered, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus, replied, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Without hesitation the father said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” and it was granted to him. I’ve quoted that line many times: Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! But it isn’t that line that intrigues me most. At the end of their time there, the disciples pulled Jesus aside and asked him why they couldn’t cast it out. Jesus replied, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Prayer. That’s what the disciples were lacking. It wasn’t that they needed greater knowledge or more strength. They didn’t need an increased gifting or boldness. The disciples needed to pray and ask God to do what only he can do. And that’s what you and I need too.
I became a Christian at the age of 22 but it took three years from the first time the young girl shared the gospel with me to the moment I surrendered my life to the Lord. After I became a Christian, her friends and other church members would come up to me at different times with a repeated phrase, “I had been praying for you!” That stuck with me. All of those people had been praying for me for years and God heard their cries on my behalf. What captured my heart and attention could not be driven out by anything but prayer. Now I’m his forever.
Maybe there’s something impossible that you have on your heart but have been reluctant to bring to the Lord. If you are anything like me, perhaps you haven’t asked him to do a miracle because you are afraid of being disappointed. That’s where we join the father in Mark and proclaim, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” Today, ask God to do the impossible. It just might be the thing that cannot be driven out by anything but prayer. Pray—he is listening.
(Over the next several months I will be running a series on my site called First Drafts. You can learn more here and feel free to join me in writing your own first draft series!)
Over the past few weeks, prolific blogger and author, Tim Challies, has posted a series of tweets and an article lamenting the changes he is seeing in the blogosphere. In short, writers are simply abandoning blogs, at least blogs that are personally owned. I believe he is right and as I’ve thought about it in regards to my own site, I know why I have not posted as frequently and it is simple, time.
It takes time to write, then edit, and then have someone else edit. Writing often takes research and reading and referencing. Then you have to upload it, add links if you have any, find a picture that works, and make sure when you hit publish it actually publishes correctly. That has been my experience and I’ve had to weigh whether or not I can spend that amount of time and effort on a blog or if it would be best spent writing articles for other outlets where there’s an editor in place and someone who can take the time to upload the post, etc. And evaluating my own blogging habits has also revealed a level of fear.
I think part of the desire to write and edit and rewrite is because people are actually reading my words and I don’t want to publish something with errors or something that could prove to be unhelpful. I want my work to be readable and relate-able. I also fear the Lord—I will give an account for every word typed on this site. Yet, I also believe there’s an unhealthy fear. I don’t want to be thought of as a terrible writer. I want to polish my craft and make sure that the commas are in the right place and the grammar isn’t awful. I hesitate then to publish because I want to look good. That’s a terrible reason not to write. In my heart of hearts I desire to serve you, my reader, and also in the back of my mind I wonder if I’m good enough. Did that sentence need a comma? Am I using passive voice? Yes, those are the things I worry about.
I imagine that temptation to fear pushing publish isn’t isolated to me. I know it’s not. I know others fear but for other reasons. Mine is about grammar but I know others would be about content. People hesitate to write because they want to make sure it appeals to the current issues of the day or that the reader would enjoy reading the content rather than writing about something the author actually enjoys writing about.
So, what you’ve stumbled upon here is a first draft. (Actually, my computer froze and I lost the last two paragraphs. So, this part is new. See, writing takes time!!) Over the next few months, I’m going to write first drafts and post them. No editing. No scheduling when it’s done. I’m going to write when I can during the week, giving myself about 30 minutes and then post it. I will look for a photo but I’m not going to spend more than 5 minutes hunting. I will write about whatever my heart desires: my time with the Lord, the weather, what I’m reading, confession, whatever. This series will be appropriately called First Draft. J
What about you?
Do you read blogs or has your blog reading slowed down? Are you a writer and have you stopped posting on your site? What would you enjoy seeing me write about? If you had a blog, what would you write about?
We know how to act, and there are things we likely wouldn’t do just for fear of what others might think. But our minds are another story. No one sees what we’re thinking — at least, that’s the lie we tell ourselves. We can have vengeful, angry thoughts; we can lust; we can be anxious; we can judge others — all within the confines of our mind. We don’t have to say a word or make a move to sin.
I share more at the Proverbs 31 Ministries: What You THINK vs. What You DO