We have all criticized this man. Verbally or in our mind at some point. We would be foolish to never have wondered what is really up with him.

I have been an outspoken opponent of his ministry. Viewing videos made by other naysayers and dissecting them for inspection. I have shuddered at some of the misspoken words that have come from his wife.

But it doesn’t matter what I think. We all know the old saying about opinions.

What really matters is what does Jesus think?

I’ve only got partial information about Osteen because I’ve never met the guy. The best intel I have is from a trusted source (my own pastor) who is amazed by Joel’s heart for the lost. If that really is the case then we should stop badgering the poor man (haha, sorry I can’t help but laugh at the irony in what I just typed).

But seriously. For sake of argument, let’s assume that our worst fears about Joel Osteen and his ministry prove to be true.

Worst case scenario, what would Jesus say about him?

Let’s look at the book of Mark. Chapter 9, verse 38-40 says this:

John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.

Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For whoever is not against us is for us.

Notice the disciples were complaining that the people were not following them.

They had removed Jesus from the equation or He wouldn’t have had to remind them of the awesomeness that His name was being preached!

Jesus is far more concerned with us finding freedom than He is with how “right” our theology is.

He knows that in Him we find freedom so that relationship is always paramount to everything else.

A right relationship with Jesus will correct any faulty theology over time. Nevertheless, none of us can say we have it all figured out; “it” being a sovereign, Holy, incomprehensible God of the universe. (Please email me if you do because I would like to meet you, Jesus!)

Jesus says leave Joel be. Let him preach because, even if the worst suspicions are true, our Lord is being glorified and people are finding freedom and eternal life!

Is my opinion of a man’s bank account more important than your salvation? God forgive me that it has been. How arrogant I was.

God will hold every teacher accountable for how he has stewarded what was given to him in this world.

Our job is to love one another and be one. That includes the preachers we love to criticize and (let’s be honest) compare ourselves to.

Every preacher of the Word thinks he/she would be the best steward of resources like Joel has if we were blessed with them. We judge our hearts more capable of handling wealth than men God has chosen to bestow it upon.

I’m not declaring that you should start trusting every pastor that preaches the gospel. I’m simply saying we should trust God and be about our Father’s business instead of publicly calling foul every time we disagree with someone.

I’ll be doing exactly that today. Preaching through blogs and Instagram and phone calls… whatever it takes. Personally I’m glad someone like Joel is utilizing that massive platform to point to Jesus.

Your sister,

Monica

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She was so much more fun when you met, probably the life of the party.

She didn’t side-eye you when you let out a curse word or get uptight about movies with racist or heavy sexual themes. She had the same dark humor as you and a quick wit to boot.

Then this guy Jesus wrecked it all.

The girl you once fell in love with has become more concerned with making it to church in time for worship than staying up late with you the night before. She’s becoming increasingly more illogical and her joy (over seemingly nothing) is obnoxious at times. You feel like all she does is criticize you and you can’t do anything right in her eyes.

You wonder why she is even still with you. You don’t even enjoy the same things anymore.

Sometimes you wonder if she’s faking it; acting out some pious, religious fantasy of who she thinks she is supposed to be now that she hangs around all these other fake church people.

You miss the relationship you had before. You miss the fun and the passion. Her passion has been displaced from you and now rests securely in the Lord.

I’m here to tell you it’s time to get over yourself.

She’s not faking.

And this is better.

She does love you or she would have left you already… but you are not her world anymore. That’s good news.

It may have been nice when she relied on you for everything; helped you feel masculine and dependable. But I’m here to let you know that you were on track for a breakdown. Mere humans are not designed to be able to carry that kind of weight. Only Christ can.

If you are totally honest with yourself, you know that you never really could meet all her needs anyway. Something was always lacking. That something was someone… this Jesus she has found.

But you’re not useless. Your woman still needs you, just in a different way.

She needs you to pray for her. She needs you to hold her and speak life into her when she is struggling and chooses to be vulnerable with you. She might even need you to step up parental contribution if God calls her into ministry… but most importantly she needs you to find Jesus for yourself.

She needs the reassurance that you love her with an eternal, undying love that only God can give through you.

She needs to see you submitting yourself the the Lord, His Word and will, while she learns to follow you as the head of the family.

You need this too.

So yes, get over it. You’ll be glad when you come to find this Jesus she has realized in her own life. You’ll be able to celebrate with her and love more deeply than you ever thought possible. You’ll have real passion, and you’ll have it with her.

Now go pray with your “girl” who’s become a woman of God. But don’t worry if you can’t bring yourself to do that just yet. I guarantee she will be praying for you.

Your sister,

Monica

I have been SOOOOO busy!

That word even feels exhausting to say, sometimes doesn’t it? We try to lessen the blow by renaming it: hustle, grind, etc. whatever street-savvy buzz word fits the bill to make us feel better about spending less time with our families in order to advance our career or even our callings.

Fortunately, I have been busy with all the right things!

Not the kind of busy that has that negative connotation; the kind we mention silently as we pass the friend at church we have been promising to get coffee with for the last 6 months (I’ve done that too and it feels awful).

No, I have been Biblically busy.

Didn’t know that was a thing? It is.

I looked it up with the fancy search option in my Bible Gateway app and found out that there is only one place “busy” is mentioned in a positive context. (at least in the HCSB version)

Anyhow, it is a great analogy for the busyness I have been caught up in. The scripture is all about preparations for Passover and offering up burnt offerings.

Except for me the only thing burning off is that excessive sinful nature marbled through my heart.

What a sweet scent that must be to my Father!

There are days I have fallen short, WAY short, but let me tell you… I am finally hitting the stride of righteousness I have longed for!

It hasn’t been this consistent since I first realized Jesus was ACTUALLY God (go figure) and I am going to share with you the secret to how YOU can have it too, even starting today!

Ready?! Here are the 6 steps to a more righteous life!

1) Wake up (a given like writing your name on the SAT)

2) Worship (kinda weird if you’re not used to it or you are vocally challenged, but it’s what you’ve been freed for! Ps- if you can’t think of a reason to worship refer to step one)

3) Pray (same concept as worship but without musical notes and you get to ask for cool stuff to happen)

4) Read the Word (if you don’t have a Bible here’s some info on how you can get one for FREE)

5) Live it (I know, the struggle is real, but so is the Spirit!)

6) Ask forgiveness promptly when you sin (don’t worry about rejection because, spoiler alert… He already forgave you!)

That’s it!

That’s what I’ve been up to! I made it sound kind of easy, but the truth is this IS the only way.

Christ is the only way.

Wanna please Him? Me too! All we have to do is get busy following!

This is how we follow. Wake up and give God the first part of your day. Let Him have a crack at transforming your heart and filling your mind with His word before you subject it to social media or rush hour chaos. (hint: you navigate these things much better when you put Him first)

Oh, and one more thing… take naps! From what I understand Jesus took LOTS of naps.

Happy napping and righteous living, family!

Your sister,

Monica

If you’ve ever walked into a church you’ve probably been hurt by it.

It’s when the pastor’s son bullies you and no one stops him or corrects his behavior. You’re only 7 years old but you never forget.

This is church hurt; when the place you thought you could find healing brings agony instead.

The kind of pain that lingers deep inside.

It’s when you’re a lonely teenager from a broken home where you never want to be. You happen upon a church function in your neighborhood and you are hesitantly invited… but then overhear, “why is she here.”

It was said in secret so you don’t confront anyone. The pain stays.

It is when you become a teen mother because of the abyss of loneliness in your childhood home, and you overhear the pastor bashing another pregnant teen.

You feel equally shamed. The pastor said it so it must be true.

The pain stays.

But then the REAL church shows up…

The church that is all African American and accepts a young white boy with grace and love… even though he is bald, pierced and has “S-K-I-N-H-E-A-D” tatted across his knuckles.

You regain hope for the church.

The church that throws your lonely-teen-momma-self a baby shower and cooks for you and takes you shopping for appropriate young women’s clothing to wear.

The church that lets you serve in worship and lead even though you told them you’re only a month out of detoxing from a 5 year alcohol relapse/binge.

You begin to heal a little.

The church that shows up to the hospital when your child has a seizure and to your home when your marriage is falling apart.

The church that counsels and prays for that broken marriage instead of condemning you and telling you to submit to an abusive husband.

I have seen both sides of this crisis in the church.

The pain is real but so is the healing.

I have found healing in forgiveness. The same forgiveness that was extended to me, without limitation, by Jesus.

I have also had to ask forgiveness…

The sins I had minimized as “lesser” had actually created the very same deep pain as those perpetrated against me.

That is the point. We were all guilty. That’s why we need Jesus.

He is STILL the answer to all our troubles.

He is STILL our hope and healing.

Even for #churchhurt.

May you be forgiven and extend forgiveness without reservation.

May you love the church, the broken bunch we are, as Christ loves the church.

Your sister,

Monica

Every Christian has something in common. We chose to make the most counter-cultural move anyone could conceive of.. surrender.

This isn’t just any surrender, it is a sacrifice so extreme (a response to Christ’s extreme, loving sacrifice) that it entails becoming “slave” to our fellow man so they can be won to Christ through our example.

We are free in Jesus, but we are freed to do something. That something is to serve!

Unfortunately, many Christians accept salvation but spend the rest of their lives bearing little fruit because they stopped surrendering. That’s not what God intended for us.

How quickly we forget that the washing of feet is a call to servitude and deeper surrender!

We would rather visit Salon De Jesus for a good foot soak after we fall into sin than work out our salvation by serving others and humbling ourselves.

Servitude and surrender are inseparable.

Jesus showed us how to do both well. When we accepted Him as our Savior we were endowed with all the qualities necessary to see the mission through. It is only by serving, however, that we grow in these gifts.

Wouldn’t you love to have a greater portion of any of these?

Love

Joy

Self-control

Kindness

Peace

Patience

Goodness

Gentleness

Faithfulness

Don’t you know that even failing marriages can be restored if only we would open our hearts to serving?

Our families, communities and government are repairable. But we must learn how to serve!

So please, have a heart of humility today?

Do for someone other than your self. Don’t waste the gifting God has placed inside you. I guarantee you will be astounded by the joy and peace it brings. I have seen it! In my next article I’ll share a surrender story of my own with you.

Please share yours in the comments so we can encourage one another?

Your sister,

Monica

Old wounds heal slow sometimes.

It took me 30 years to realize my earthly father had never really been a father to me. Though I prayed and cried much and received healing, the “loss” of my father could not be mourned in one day.

Our fathers are supposed to love, guide and protect us. For me that was not the case.

I look over photos of families and dads from yesterday and my heart breaks a little for what I missed out on. Instead of images of love I recall scenes of drama and violence.

“I can choose to see him as a child of God instead of an evil man.”

Father’s Day isn’t normally hard for me because I just don’t pay much attention to it.

I grew up celebrating my mother that day because she did everything for us and so I was taught that she should get honor on Father’s Day. It was just deflecting.

No one wanted to talk about my father or the hurt that surrounded the topic of his absence.

I tried to call him yesterday. Thought it was the decent thing to do. On the other end I heard the tone for a disconnected phone. I haven’t heard from him in months, not since my brother in law passed and I saw my father at the funeral.

Everyone wanted to ignore him then too.

I couldn’t. He is a hurting human being after all and everyone should be extended comfort in a situation like that.

I had an opportunity to show the compassion I had never received from him. I sat next to him and held his aging hand. I did my best to calm everyone when he started showing out for attention. I couldn’t help but wonder if he wouldn’t seek it so much had we just shown the love he was so desperately craving.

But none of us knew how to love well as children and our parents weren’t in the position to teach us back then.

I know how to love today.

I know that I can honor my father even though, the morning after Father’s Day, I am suddenly in tears because I don’t have one.

I can choose to see him as a child of God instead of an evil man.

It is not the people of this world but the forces of another we are up against.

I can choose to hold sorrow in my heart momentarily instead of building a permanent mass of bitterness toward him.

I can share this with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and with the world and hope that you find strength for the same forgiveness if you have endured an absent or abusive father.

As Christ forgave and loved us, may we also forgive and love.

Your sister,

Monica

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get answers to prayers more often than others?

Have you thought to yourself: How does faith REALLY work? WHY does it work? Can faith be built up? If so, HOW?

The answers are linked to identity. It is how we relate to The Father (made available through Jesus) that determines the limit of our faith. It is the level of our faith that determines what miracles we can see.

When we place no limit on our relationship with God there is no limit to our faith and likewise what can be done through that faith.

In the book of Mark the disciples allowed their fear to challenge their relationship with Jesus.

Don’t you care that we are going to die?” they shouted over crashing waves as they woke Jesus to save them. Fear led to panic which prompted confusion about Jesus’s priorities and concern for His loved ones.

Of course He cares! We are His own!

But we forget that fact when it comes to prayer for those close to us, and even for ourselves. We react in cowardice and question God instead of behaving boldly as children of the King.

After Jesus calmed the storm His disciples said “Who is this man? Even the wind and waves obey him!”

They figured it had something to do with who He is… Jesus knew it was because of whose He is. The disciples had small faith because they minimized the relationship.

Our faith is hindered when we misunderstand our identity.

We forget that we are not our own; that we belong to The Father. We forget that our children are the Lord’s before they are ours. Or perhaps we have never grasped this truth to begin with.

Who has a level of faith like that of Abraham who would sacrifice his own son? A faith like that of God?

That is what is required to see the unhindered move of God in this world. A faith that has no limitation can only exist where sacrifice has no limitation.

“We react in cowardice and question God instead of behaving boldly as children of the King.”

Can you let go completely and give your entire life to Him?

Is today the day you stop negotiating and choose surrender?

Only in complete surrender will you find the solid rock, who is Christ, upon which a meaningful, joyful life can be built. A life in which answered prayers are simply icing on the cake to the glorious love we have found in Jesus.

God answers the prayers of the righteous because the removal of our pride and ego has made space for His great miracles to be received.

They are already in place for us to walk in. He has prepared all these things for you before He formed you. It is your job to concede to His Truth in place of “your truths”… which are really the lies of this world.

Lay yourself at the altar with your prayers today. Lay your self there first.

I am believing with you that you will see the answers to your prayers as you submit completely to His will.

May you be humble and heard today.

Your sister,

Monica