don’t give up on me.

There are a lot of reasons I’m crooning this jam from Milo Greene. It’s not because I know what he’s about – I don’t. I am just the kind of person who has a soundtrack to my days and this is making the list.

This song got stuck on me because I wish my clients would sing it. Some of them do, yes. Some of them want their kids back more than they want anything else in life. And when I get their voicemails about completing treatment or a picture text of the parenting class they are attending, a little part of me leaps with them for joy. Some of them are the reason I have a job – because they prove change is possible.

Others of them, well… I have to sing these lines on their behalf. I’m not sure how badly they want their kiddos back in their care, even though I am sure that they love their littles. But I want them to be reckless with their love – I want them shaken out of the stupor that addiction has buried them inside. I want to see them look those littles in the eyes and say, “Don’t you give up on me. Don’t you do it.”

Because, sometimes I wonder if the children want to. I wonder if they are tired of getting tossed about. I wonder if they get lonesome for home – one that stays in the same place with the same people. I wonder that.

And then there’s the other thing. There’s the other thing I think when my day’s soundtrack is stuck on this song.

I know the song isn’t about holiness or the Lord or probably anything spiritual. But, my heart is the Lord’s and I suppose it always stretches to hear Him even in unlikely places. And when I hear this song, I can hear my heart singing to the Lord about my holiness.

I know, sounds strange.

I’m just so far from holy – so very far from even feeling like there is progress, sometimes. And those times I imagine God shaking His head at my efforts as He patiently directs my steps (often in the direction opposite my footprints).

My friend and I read Kevin DeYoung’s book, “Hole in Our Holiness” and went to the Desiring God conference last fall where both Piper and DeYoung spoke. The incredible importance of our holiness sunk in so deep that it’s in almost every conversation we have now.

Though we are called positionally holy as sons and daughters of the Lord, bought with the price of Christ’s shed blood, we are still being sanctified. That is, we are in the process of becoming holy right now, in this life. 

And so, when I sing this song a bit of my heart asks the Lord not to give up on me. I know the progress is slow. I know I go backwards as often as I go forwards. I know I need to learn lessons I’ve already been taught.

But, I know [far above everything else I know] that the Lord will not give up on His sanctifying work. Even as I plead for His patience I am believing that He is giving it in grace. He has called me, and therefore He is doing a work that will be brought to completion.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
(Romans 8:29-30 ESV)

My holiness, the messy progress of it all, is a victory I can claim in this moment. I know I’m not near finished – there’s a whole lot more in my life that needs sanctifying. But, to the degree that my heart mourns my waywardness as I sing this song, to that degree my heart is lifted with hope that God won’t ever give up on the progress.

The progress of my holiness is His alone to claim. He receives the glory for every victory over sin and He will not fail.

I guess that’s the difference between putting your hope in a person and putting your hope in God.

God will not fail.
He won’t give up on me.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

unshackled and unashamed

We crowded the platform overlooking the stage – the three of us in a kind of huddle, swaying and bouncing with giggles.

We danced with our hands in the air, singing the words we knew and mumbling through the ones we didn’t. More than 17,000 people packed the arena and it felt like just the three of us – three blonde sisters savoring the moments and filling the air with laughter. I wasn’t concerned about impressions because I was singing with two beautiful girls who were lost in the music.

I didn’t used to be like this. Junior and high school were about keeping up appearances, no matter how many times I try to say they weren’t. 

Do I look spiritual enough? Do I look too spiritual? Do I look smart enough? Do I seem too smart and not humble?  I did a lot of situational assessment to figure out how to make the best impressions. I know, definitely first world problems.

I thought on those things as I was standing there at the concert, not caring about anything that anyone was thinking. Maybe it was because those things – those silly cultural fears about what others think – seemed so petty when I thought about what my sisters thought of me. I wanted them to see that I was unshackled and unashamed.

Christ doesn’t set free halfway – when he freed me from my sin it was complete. That kind of power pulls people into statements like Paul’s in his letter to the Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes…” That’s not a statement that’s worried about impressions.

The law of the spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death. Free.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
(Romans 8:1-11 ESV)

The Spirit of God dwells in me and the Spirit is life and the Spirit gives life – the kind of life that lives unshackled and unashamed. This is the impression I want to make.

Today is the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, and I want to live it unshackled and unashamed.

You may not be giving something up for 40 days, but if you are, let me encourage you: don’t put yourself under the law for 40 days as an act of penitence. If you are in Christ, the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Don’t crawl back under the law so you are condemned again. Instead, live in the freedom His grace provides.

Even as you are giving things up, focus on Jesus as treasure and your small sacrifices will taste so much sweeter.

These 40 days are about choosing Christ instead. When we want chocolate or coffee or facebook or drive-thru or clothes or comfort, choose Christ instead. Sink your teeth into His truth and be filled to full with His grace. He satisfies (Psalm 63) like nothing else.

In sacrifice there is reward and His name is Jesus.

Here’s a devotional you might check out and some of my favorite songs for lent. These 40 days could be a time where you discover what it means to be unshackled and unashamed.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy