Technically right; Functionally wrong

If you are black and white like I am, you are probably big on people doing the right thing and doing as the law says. When it comes to your family and close friends, you are probably the harshest and hardest with them. We place higher standards for those closest to us and we’re quick to correct in the name of the law! We often say “You know better,” or “You ‘should’ know better.” My nephew Izzy in his sweet innocent voice would say “Do better!” We may be technically right in what we are saying, but functionally wrong in our approach. We don’t realize that in our technicality we are a pharisee allowing principle to take precedence over the person. 

I was an RA (Residential Assistant) at the university I attended. Among the list of duties, one was to ensure that students were abiding by the dress code and rules of conduct. Naturally, I thought this should come easy for everyone. Rules are easy to follow, at least for me they never really posed a problem. Well, I was in for a surprise. It wasn’t until I became an RA that the pharisee in me was revealed. I learned that there IS a right and wrong way to uphold principles. One way that most of us tend to lean towards is the self-righteous approach. Whenever we allow the principle to take the lead we’ve missed the root of Christianity entirely. We are called to love others and help those who are heading in the wrong direction, not give them another reason to hate Christianity. Correction with the wrong intent causes us to say things we shouldn’t say, react versus respond and hurt those around us in the process. We probably won’t admit it, but we feel good about ourselves because suddenly we look really good as the rule follower and the one we exposed or who did wrong is naked in their sin and shame. 

Self-righteousness is lethal in nature. It not only hurts and destroys others, but it also ends up suicidal where our heart is exposed by the motive of darkness. Self-righteousness attacks others while injuring itself. We are quick to slander others lacking the foresight that we’re speaking from a messy and ugly heart that eventually will get exposed likewise. While sin was initially the target, whenever functioned from self-righteousness the person as a whole becomes our victim. There’s no healing done or reconciliation of sin, only pain and hurt. 

I’ve found that a lot of self-righteousness stems from jealousy. This type of jealousy leads us to demonize others (family and friends especially) in the name of being right. Our focus becomes pointing out others’ sins and mistakes. We become gossipers and slanders in the process as well as flawed critics too proud to see that we’re plucking the speck from someone else’s eyes when there’s a plank in ours. Matthew 12:36 states: 

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

The tongue is one of the smallest yet most powerful weapons we have. If you are a follower of Christ Matthew 12:36 should be on your list of terrifying verses. We will give an account for every idle word. Those are words that are used to slander, gossip, self-righteously destroy and list goes on. Let me clarify, you may be right in what you say, but wrong in how you say it and even more so wrong in your approach. How we treat and speak about those in sin says a lot about what’s really in our hearts. Self-righteousness exposes for the sake of looking good about oneself and destroying the lives of others in the process. Humility understands that lost people do lost things and love covers a multitude of sins. 

So for you, the black-and-white reader, evaluate your why for addressing sin and principle. Are they pure intentions or simply for self-gain? Take a hard look in the mirror before you inflict injury with your words. You will find that you’re carrying a lot of junk that you would hope someone would handle with compassion and mercy. 

If you are reading this and you’ve been hurt by someone that is self-righteous, remember that a gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). Be kind to those who are mean. Extend mercy to those who are critical. And love those who are difficult to love. The Christlike thing to do is love in the midst of hurt. 


Mouth Wars

One of the most difficult things I’ve learned to do in marriage is tame my tongue. While I don’t quite have that figured out, I’ve been stretched tremendously since April 29th, 2021. Marriage reveals a lot about who we really are and can I tell you, Vashti LOVES to say what’s on her mind. Interestingly, I lean more towards the introverted side. I am mostly quiet unless I need to be social. Despite my “chill” and “laid-back” personality, I do have a hard time taming my tongue, especially in heated conversations. It gets cutthroat pretty quickly with a mouth war that leaves both parties defeated, wounded, and broken.

I mentioned this many blogs ago about Jarrod and I’s premarital counseling and the session we did on conflict resolution. If you missed those blogs, here’s an inside on how we tend to approach resolving conflict. Jarrod is the immediate resolver. I tend to linger, dwell and simmer on the situation. I don’t like to resolve instantly. In premarital counseling, we were advised to meet in the middle. I needed to communicate that I needed time and Jarrod and I both had to agree on a reasonable middle ground time that gives me enough time to blow off steam but also does not drag the conflict out longer than it needs to be. Learning and receiving tools and tips for marriage is easy. Implementing what’s learned when conflict arises is difficult.

In our almost one year of marriage Jarrod and I have had 3 “major” arguments. We do banter from time to time, but these 3 “major” arguments required us to implement what we learned. In last week’s blog, I shared that the root of these arguments stemmed from my disconnect with Christ. You see, often we expose what’s in our hearts when life gets heated. My lack of daily devotion to Christ revealed what was in my heart when Jarrod and I didn’t meet eye to eye.

Looking back, both of us agree that our “major” arguments could have been avoided and downright petty on both of our parts. Funny how in the moment all we want is to be right failing to see we are the same team and should be working together rather than against each other. Our arguments ended up being mouth wars that wounded the heart of the other and stirred insecurities as hurtful words often do.

There are plenty of verses in the Bible that touches on the importance of taming our tongues. King Solomon writes in Proverbs 21:23 that “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” James wrote in James 3:10, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” Lastly, Matthew writes in Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…” Again these are just a few I handpicked for this specific blog. If you’re curious about what more the Bible has to say about taming the tongue I challenge you to google it. It won’t take too long for you to be convicted.

While James was very clear that we cannot tame our tongues (James 3:8), he did encourage followers of Christ to seek purity of speech. In seeking purity of speech we seek the One who is pure and righteous. It boils down to the whole concept of you produce what you are plugged into or you are what you eat. If you consume good and practice good, you are more likely to release good whenever you’re faced with trying times. While I have not mastered this, Jarrod and I do try out best to seek purity of speech when mouth wars desires greatly to take over. We will never master this, but that does not stop us from trying to practice speaking from a pure heart.

Reality is, communicating can be difficult. Choosing our words especially when we’re heated is often strenuous. It’s easy to simply say what’s on our mind, bring up the past or throw dart words that wound and crush the heart. That’s easy. What’s difficult is choosing righteousness and holy speech. In choose this route however, you save you and your spouse/significant other the time it takes to apologize for your degrading and negative choice words. You also avoid an even bigger argument as choice words often stirs the pot and increases the heat of conflict.

You will only respond in purity if what you consume is pure. I have learned and is continuing to learn that my response is directly related to what I have been consuming on a daily basis. Whenever I snap, it is probably due to my lack of responsibility submitting my temperate to Christ. I need to daily surrender the parts of my heart I know easily stirs strife. You know what you struggle with. You know what areas in your heart that needs daily surrendering. Let me tell you, we can avoid plenty petty mouth wars if we learn to daily surrender the dirty parts of us that enjoys being right and having things our way. It is important to understand though, that while you may still not meet eye to eye, you are still on each others team. You are still rooting for the other. You are still one!

In wrapping up this weeks blog I want to encourage you. If you struggle with your speech, here are a couple things to remember when conflict stirs in your relationships or marriage:

  1. You are working together not against each other.
  2. Fight the urge to bring up the past – speak on what “fits the occasion.”
  3. Give each other grace and time to communicate.
  4. Practice praying about your response rather than stewing in your rightness.
  5. Fight the urge to use words that degrade, demean and that which can break the confidence of your spouse.
  6. Hug and kiss it out! (if you’re married)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 


Be the better person!

“Let’s reconcile our differences,” a familiar statement made by my husband, Jarrod. If I am being honest, I didn’t quite enjoy it whenever he’d make that statement or a variation of that statement. I have never been the greatest at first, admitting when I am wrong, and secondly resolving conflict whether I am right or wrong. In the early stages of dating, whenever we didn’t see eye to eye, Jarrod would encourage me to reconcile our differences and resolve the conflict between us. If he knew I wasn’t 100% with anyone he always challenged me to be the better person. Not the bigger person, rather the better because I know better. We will get to why he focuses on knowing better and not being the bigger person a little later. Either way, Jarrod has helped me to mature and grow up from my all too childish character that enjoys the cozy and easy route of brushing conflict under the rug, pretending it hadn’t happened, or giving it time for all parties to forget what had happened.

Life is too short to hold on to anger and bitterness. As a matter of fact, Paul, the author of the book of Romans writes just this for believers and unbelievers alike to strive to be at peace:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Knowing our days are numbered and we don’t really know when our expiration date is, how foolish are we to hold on to wrath that can quite frankly determine our destination. Here are a couple more verses that will ruffle your feathers just a bit and I pray convicts and compels you to be the better person:

 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness (James 1:19-20)
Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3:15)

Now let’s get to why you and I need to be the better person. You and I know better. Don’t believe me? Well, you just read the biblical instructions that clearly stated the importance of reconciliation and the gravity of holding on to anger, bitterness, and wrath. You know better and in knowing better, you should do better. That’s the power of knowledge, my friend. Your duty now in knowing better is to assume the parties involved in your dispute do not know better. What an advantage you have! On a serious note, especially for those who believe and serve Christ, if you are about the Father’s business and heart then you should be about reconciliation. That’s the whole grand dynastic plan from the beginning. In Old Testament we see God reconciling man with Him through prophets and revelation. In the New Testament, God sent His son Jesus to take the form of man to once again bring reconciliation and to teach us likewise how to do so. If it weren’t that important I’d say God would have excused the whole idea of reconciliation entirely from scripture. However, it’s emphasized, chapter after chapter, parable after parable the heart of God to reconcile man with man and man with God is evident.

To reconcile is to restore. In Christian theology, it is an element of salvation that refers to the result of atonement through Christ. Earthly reconciliation is doing likewise only ending the estrangement between man and man. In order for you and I to end the estrangement between each other we first need to end the estrangement between humanity and God (personally). Why? Simply, we cannot give something we do not have. In order to have access to a heart change that desires reconciliation, we need that element of salvation. If you believe you have said salvation, then I am daring to say, do you really have the love of Christ in your heart? If you did, then reconciliation should be in your life mantra.

I will end with this. Our decision to choose reconciliation does not mean the wound or damage can be undone or erased from our memory, rather it may forever be etched there. It does however reflect what’s in our hearts when we choose to be the better person. Not that we are better, rather our hearts have gotten better to see people the way Christ does and not how our heart that is all too emotional and fleshly driven sees others. I challenge you to be the better person. Do better and strive to reconcile before it’s too late.


The Darkest Valley – PT.2

One moment of courage can change the trajectory of your entire life. For me, that moment was when I walked through the scary office doors to my very first counseling appointment. If you read my previous blog, you know that it only took two months after first signing up and then canceling my counseling appointment for me to finally gain the courage to do the unthinkable, go to counseling.

In the Christian world, at least the Christian world I grew up in if you went counseling you were crazy. I mean that literally. I understood counseling was made available for people who were mentally not there. People who were borderline suicidal, somewhat crazy, or all-around crazy. I confidently placed myself in the “somewhat crazy” category since I did not fully want to be in counseling but was crazy enough to do it. Now I see how delusional I was to even think counseling was for the crazy. How the tables turned.

I’ve started and stopped counseling a total of three times. The first time was during my freshman year in college. That was the first time I said out loud the awful terrible that had happened. It didn’t come instantly. It took several counseling sessions for me to finally admit to my very patient counselor why I really was in her office. I had walls. Big walls. Hard ones that I refused to have anyone dare to break. Before each counseling session, my counselor prayed and after each counseling session, she prayed again. Every word in her prayer tormented me until I finally broke down and was honest. Completely honest about how that one night changed and wrecked who I saw in the mirror, who I believed I was and the fervid hate I had towards men. I thought I was a monster. A monster for allowing the assault to happen. A monster because I brought it on to myself. A monster for being dumb to think I could trust anyone. And a monster because I held scars that made me see an ugly reflection looking back at me each time I glanced at the mirror. I was a monster that was living a very fake life and in desperate need of counseling.

Counseling was messy. My resistant and impenetrable heart softened after each session that the impossible became evidently possible right before my eyes. I was healing. Every session entailed gut-wrenching, painful, agonizing ugly crying moments of truth. Things I didn’t even realize that were a part of what had shaped my thinking were brought to light which explained the why behind the what. Inadvertently, despite my view of counseling and stubborn heart, I realized, counseling helped. The big challenge after months of counseling was to tell my parents. And just that I did. I asked my brother and sister-in-law to drive me home to Houston. Once there, in my parent’s bedroom, I opened up without shame and revealed what I thought I would never be able to do.

After I word vomited I waited in what felt like eternal silence. I had prepared for the unthinkable. A part of me still believed that no one would believe me. For crying out loud, the lead Pastor told me that so if he said it, it must be true, right? The look on my parent’s faces was not one of unbelief. Rather I saw instantaneous regret and shame. Not in me, rather in their efforts to keep me safe. I remember clear as day that night in their bedroom as they held me weeping and in agony and for a split second I saw myself. The agony I had secretly held to myself for years prior. I knew I had to reassure them it was not their fault and will never be their fault. I knew they had a journey for themselves to take to heal. But that’s their story to tell. I love my mom and dad both. I love them wholeheartedly and have loved them even deeper as we bonded over a tragedy. God always somehow makes good out of evil and that good healed my broken heart.

After telling my parents, my siblings were next. It was hard. They were and are my best friends. Like my parents, I saw the regret and shame they inflicted on themselves. For not protecting me I presume. For lack of foresight maybe. Or maybe from seeing their baby sister wounded by people they trusted and even confided in. But I was no longer wounded. Eventually, they began to see that, but like my parents, they needed time for themselves to heal and walk their own journey. I loved my brothers, but my love and bond for them deepened that day. Again, God always somehow makes good out of evil and that good healed my broken heart.

I went to counseling a couple months after my first breakthrough and then summertime came which led me overseas in Egypt for a lengthy internship. I didn’t sign back up for counseling again until Jarrod (my husband) came into my life. I was treading new waters with now having to reveal the depths of my heart to someone I was beginning to love. Jarrod, in his patience, did not rush or question me. He was patient with me when I asked him to not hold my hands. He was patient with me when I asked him not to kiss me. He was patient with me when I didn’t want to hug or be embraced. And then one day, in his patience, Jarrod loving advised me to go to counseling. He knew I was wrestling and that I needed someone to talk to. He knew that those walls I had up were stemmed from deep wounds that started the beginning stages of healing but weren’t quite there yet. So again, I signed up for counseling. Another messy process. How do I love a man? How do I trust he won’t hurt me? How do I trust he won’t use my body for his needs and take advantage of my innocence? After months of counseling sessions, I took the brave step and opened up to Jarrod who patiently gave me time. The time I needed to be comfortable enough to be vulnerable.

He never once judged. Rather, Jarrod looked me dead in the face eyes locked into mine glossy from compassionate hurt. After my word vomit, he gently said “I love you, Vashti. Everything about you. I see you. Nothing but you. The pure heart that first attracted me to you and the pure heart that’s before me now. We will get through this.” And we have. I’ve never felt more safe and protected. I guess his 6’7″ built body has something to do with it, but in all honestly, Jarrod is exactly who I needed.

My last counseling session was months leading up to marriage. The sex bed petrified me. As much as I thoroughly trusted Jarrod, the tinge of fear always resurrected when the nightmares aired their ugly face. All the what if’s resurfaced and again, with time, a very patient soon-to-be husband and counselor we made it to the wedding day. The absolute best day of my life. A day I probably would have run away from had it not been for the God moments perfectly orchestrated and my choice to respond to those divine encounters.

The cross was my answer and still is. Every part of healing pointed back to the blood-shed on the cross. Transgressions of all nature are paid by a perfect man for imperfect people. Every counseling session brought out a new understanding of forgiveness. It brought out a new revelation of God’s redemptive work. It brought out a new understanding of my wrecked heart that desperately craved healing and wholeness. A price I was willing to take for the sake of my wellbeing and sanity.

C.S. Lewis said it well,

Forgiving does not mean excusing… it does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.

I refused to live in hate. I refused to live bitter. I refused to feel like a monster for the rest of my life. I refused to live with insecurities and poor self-esteem. And in my refusal, I had a very tough choice to make. I needed to forgive my transgressors and I needed to forgive myself for the self-hate I inflicted. There’s no excuse for the assault. In time, the consequence will come. Not by my might, rather through Christ my vindicator. What is also inexcusable is living with hate that kills. And I choose not to walk with a cloud over my head the rest of my life.

Even though I have walked one of the darkest valleys, I will fear not. Because I know who is my comfort. I know who is my healer. I know who is for me. And I know who will vindicate and justify me. I know He will do the same for you.

My journey isn’t quite over. There’s far more to the healing that has been left unsaid. In time I may share more, but I will leave you with this.

If you are or know someone that’s a victim of any type of abuse or assault, don’t shy away from speaking out. You owe it yourself and the safety of those around you to be bold. Seek help. Seek counseling and don’t be afraid of the messy healing.

If there’s a verse I would encourage you to study as you walk the tough road to healing, it’s Psalm 23. I actually had to memorize this verse around the age of 5 and haven’t forgotten it since. It’s one of my favorite Psalms and one I fall back on whenever days get tough. I challenge you to dive into all the treasures hidden in this Psalm. You won’t regret it. Healing is right before you. Jesus is waiting on you. He won’t force nor coerce you into healing. Rather, it’s your choice.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Is Jesus the hypocrite?

When man fails, especially those who call themselves Christians, does that mean Jesus is the hypocrite? Should we challenge the integrity of Jesus because a follower of His failed? The answer of course is, no. We shouldn’t, but we do. We are quick to cast stones and blame God for the actions of man. We challenge God and His principles casting blame on Him because, if God was so good HE would have prevented the evil from happening.

Reality is, God has given us a choice. You and I get to choose. For the majority of us, we have the freedom of choice and our choices ultimately pay a price. Make good choices, the outcome probably is, good. Make bad choices, the outcome will be bad and ultimately, those bad choices affect those around us. Often those who are innocent.

The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! - Luke 12:2-3

On December 9th 2021, Joshua Duggar, the 33 year old former reality star and eldest child of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, was indicted on child pornography charges. Court documents exposes that Josh used his work computer to download child sexual abuse material. Children under the age of 12 enduring sexual abuse were among some of the material found. If you’ve followed the Duggar family you are probably aware that this is not the first time Josh Duggar has made headlines.

In 2015 it was revealed Josh paid for two subscriptions for – a site known to “help” married men find others for affairs. His account revealed he was looking for someone who is interested in “one-night stands,” “experimenting with sex toys,” “someone who can teach me,” “open to experimentation,” and more. Further data, include his preference as “professional/well groomed,” “short height,” “high sex drive,” “natural breasts,” “girl next door,” “naughty girl,” and more. This comes after Josh admitted he molested 5 underage girls, four of whom are his sisters when he was 14 years old.

The Duggar family are known as devout independent Christian Baptists. They boldly take pride in living conservatively sharing their values and their individual relationship with God. Knowing this, it can be and should be unsettling knowing Joshua Duggars doing. How can a Christian, someone who says they serve God, do the unspeakable? More so, how can a good God allow this to happen? A hypocrite we say. And rightly so. Someone who says one thing and does the other. But does that mean Jesus is the hypocrite too?

Did Jesus commit the wrong? Did God force man to do evil? Did Jesus show in His example here on earth tolerance of any of the evil done today? Did God ever reward in the Old Testament literature good for evil? The answer to all of these is, no. It’s simple, we were each given a choice. A mans hypocrital actions does that translate to a hypocritical Jesus or God. While God is all powerful, in His powerful nature He granted you and I the freedom to choose between right and wrong. What we do with this freedom is not a reflection of who God is, rather a reflection of what’s really in our hearts.

Many will say they follow Jesus. Many will be able to quote versus and write songs of wonder. Many will preach with vigor and outwardly appear they serve God, but often we find that this is all a facade. What’s truly in our hearts, the sins we hide and have tucked away in the abyss of our hearts eventually air it’s ugly face. We know that love, true love, does the will of God. And those that love not God and His principles eventually are exposed.

Jesus is not the hypocrite. We are.


Don’t waste your breath.

I’ve written about criticism a number of times now. A lot of what I’ve written is encouraging you, the reader, to be mindful of how you critique and how you receive critique. This blog however is about our exchange for criticism that cost nothing.

I was listening to a webinar with Jon Acuff and he shares that our exchange for criticism that costs nothing is vital. What exactly are criticisms that cost nothing? For starters, they are the hate comments we receive whenever we post a picture or share an idea. The criticisms that cost nothing are those that took little effort from the one doing the critique. Criticisms that cost nothing are the ones that stem purely from jealousy, envy, and pride. These types of criticisms that took little effort from the critic are the ones we tend to waste our breath on.

Criticism that costs nothing, is worth nothing.

-Jon Acuff

Too often our exchange for cheap criticism is all wasting our breath. We defend and plead our case to no avail. Why? To simply prove a point or to make ourselves appear we know what we’re doing? Here’s a pro tip, don’t waste your breath. What I’ve learned is, someone’s 10-second comment does not require a 10-minute response. That’s not a fair trade. A critique that took little effort and was neither constructive nor uplifting does not require me pleading my case. That position is neither arrogant nor pompous. It’s simply being wise with your exchange of time. Time is too precious to waste your breath on cheap criticism.

Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. - Proverbs 11:12

Solomon, the author of Proverbs, was known for his wisdom. He is often recognized for his understanding of the world. In Proverbs 11:12 Solomon eloquently encourages readers to hold their tongue.

Let’s first take a look at what the first half of Proverbs 11:12 is saying; specifically, the word derides. According to Google, it means to express contempt for; ridicule. Synonyms that fall into the same word group as derides are, insult, taunt, ridicule, mock, torment, and the list goes on. Now let’s get back to the verse. It can be read, Whoever [insults, taunt, ridicule, mock, torment] has no sense. So your neighbor who’s your friend, family, co-worker, social media follower, or even a bystander, when they insult, taunt, ridicule, mock, or torment you has no sense. That’s not to say they are dull rather the place from which they speak isn’t one of value.

While it’s easy to simply focus on the first half of Proverbs 11:12, don’t be quick to bask simply in that. The real meat is found in the second half. Solomon charges those who read his work or the one who has understanding, to hold their tongue. The key is our response to cheap criticism. When we hold our tongues and waste not our breath, that shows understanding. That shows maturity. That shows our understanding in first, who God says we are, and secondly, that which we know we are called to do.

People will always have something to say. Whether family or someone you’re meeting for the first time, they will always have something to say. And while in most cases, they mean well, you will find there are occasions where cheap criticism is given more than ones that matter. If you find yourself surrounded by 10-second, half thought-through criticism, don’t waste your breath with a response. Hold your tongue and keep on with the goal you have set before you. It’s not a fair exchange to give 10 minutes of your time to a 10-second comment. It’s not worth your breath to beat a dead horse. Often those that deride are jealous, envious, and prideful which can translate to hearts that are dead to see good. Don’t waste your breath. Hold your tongue and keep on keeping on.

Criticism that costs nothing, is worth nothing.

-Jon Acuff

Gratiude Attitude

Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, I know we’re technically “past” Thanksgiving Day by now, but I pray your Thanksgiving was great. In my family, we have a Thanksgiving tradition of food (lots of it) and then a member of the family will lead worship and a devotional along with everyone would go around and share their highs and lows for the year. Then we will close out the day with a prayer for everyone or any prayer request made. It’s one of my favorite things about thanksgiving. Besides the food of course. The past couple of years, my oldest brother has been leading these devotionals consecutively. Each year he’s shared what God placed on his heart, and if I am being honest, it’s pretty spot on what each of us needed to hear. I’d vote he keeps leading these devotionals every year. So, Zebedee, if you’re reading this, you’re leading these devotionals every year okay? It’s a part of your birthright.

With his permission, I wanted to share with you this year’s devotional. Unlike other years, this year Zebedee shared on the topic of Thanksgiving. If I am honest I thought it would be generic because that’s what everyone else tends to do. He was on a pretty good trend of awesome devotionals that I thought, “man is he going to mess it up now!” But seriously, the topic was quite fitting. In my family alone, many of us are going through seasons of transition. I am newly married, my little brother recently engaged, my eldest brother and wife just had their second child together, and my second oldest brother is launching his business while being a dad and husband. My parents too are in a season of transition with caring for my grandmother. That’s just the highlights of transitions we’ve each been going through. There’s way more that would pretty much fill an entire book. I am sure for you too who’s reading this, you’re going through transitions (good and bad) of your own. In transitional periods, however, especially the bad ones, it’s easy to forget to remain thankful. I fall short of this all too often.

One of my brothers points in his devotional was,

Gratitude changes the lens through which we see the circumstances in our little slice of time.

Zebedee Pitterson, Jr.

The idea here is that when we learn to be thankful for the little things and the big things hit us pretty good or especially bad, we will see that even in the midst of our circumstances, there’s still something to be grateful for. Gratitude changes our posture and it changes how we see God. Rather than only seeing God in the good, we can find God even in the not-so-good.

It’s funny how life can be. When Jarrod and I left our family thanksgiving, we didn’t know we would need to apply Zebedee’s devotional pretty immediately. As life would have it, we got home to a messed-up septic and sewer system. It was honestly pretty crappy (pun intended). So as we speak, we cannot shower or use or toilets until a plumber comes out to fix things. We did our best along with my in-laws to see if it’s something we could fix ourselves but unfortunately, we ended the day defeated by our septic and sewer system. One point for the septic and sewer system; zero for the Pisors. But you know what, after my little meltdown I was reminded of Zebedee’s message. I reflected on all the good God has done for us. We had lots to be thankful for. Aside from provision, health and strength, Jarrod’s parents lives two doors down from us which they gladly opened their doors for us to take warm showers and relax after a crappy (pun intended) day. We’re grateful for the little things and even the chaos.

Being thankful changes our perspective despite broken dreams, broken relationships, chaotic circumstances, and unfulfilled longings.

Zebedee Pitterson

As chaotic as today was for us dealing with a messed up septic system, we learned to be thankful. We saw God’s hands even in the chaos. Thankfulness doesn’t remove the existence of brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain. Rather, thankfulness sees hope and God despite the existence of brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain.

So my challenge to you is simple and rather challenging…what can you be thankful for? Are you going through brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain? How has God showed up for you despite what you’re going through?

If you learn to be thankful in the little, when the big things come their way, both good and bad, it will be a lot easier to have an attitude of gratitude. BE thankful.


What’s in your cup?

A friend of mine shared on Facebook an analogy her mom shared with her. That will be the foundation for today’s blog. Here’s what she wrote her mom shared with her:

You walk around with your cup of coffee... and suddenly someone passes... pushes you and makes your coffee spill everywhere.
Why did your coffee spill?
- Because someone pushed me
Wrong answer: You spilled the coffee because that's what you had in the cup. If it had been tea... you would have spilled tea.

This analogy paints perfectly the concept of you are what you eat. What is inside of us will be what eventually comes out of us. Life shakes us up. That’s not an if or maybe. It’s a when. When we are bumped, we eventually spill and what spills reveals what is really in our hearts. Many times what’s spilled are areas that we have kept secret. They are parts of our lives that we’ve cleverly masked and hidden from the rest of the world.

You stub your toe. What spills? You lose your keys. What spills? Someone break checks you on the freeway. What spills? The waitress messes up your order. What spills? You receive an unpleasant report from the doctor. What spills? You lose your job. What spills? You lose a loved one. What spills? Truth is revealed when trials present themselves. Don’t get me wrong. We are not perfect human beings. We won’t always respond with virtue. We will slip. We will say things at the moment that is not the better side of who we are. How we consistently respond to life spills, however, reveal what’s in our hearts but more so what we’ve been filling our hearts with.

We have two choices to make in utilizing bumps in the road. We can either let the trail refine us or give it the power to break us. In refining, our character is built through dependence not on self, rather from our source. In breaking, we react to spills removing God and sometimes even blaspheming God. The reality is, each trial we face, whether big or small, reveals what’s in our hearts.

So my question to you is this, what’s in your cup? What are the things you’ve been filling your heart that will eventually spill? Are you going to spill bitterness, profanity, anger, and wrath? Or in pain, hurt, suffering and loss are you going to remember to fall on your knees to your source? A good indicator of how we will respond to life’s hiccups is being mindful of what we are filling our hearts. Our speech especially reveals what’s in our hearts in the overwhelming.

Again I ask. What’s in your cup? The shows you watch are what’s in your cup. How you utilize your time is what’s in your cup. What you read is what’s in your cup. The unforgiveness and unresolved issues are what’s in your cup. The insecurities you’ve allowed to rule you are what’s in your cup. Be honest with yourself, what’s in your cup. If you feed yourself what’s good, that’s what will come out. If you feed yourself rotten food, well you and I both know you can poison your insides. The same happens when we fill our cups with the rotten things in life. Our speak is poisoned. Our character is poisoned. And bottom line, our hearts are poisoned.

Matthew 12:34 says it perfectly,

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Today I want to challenge you to reevaluate what’s in your heart. If you’re consuming rotten things, it’s very likely you’ve been walking around with a rotten mouth and rotten character. Ouch! If you’ve been filling your cup with good, then you’re on the right path. Truth be told, no one is perfect, but we can strive towards Christ perfecting us. In Christ’s perfecting, there’s a refining of our hearts and character; submitting our hearts to do the will of God and walking as Jesus did, not as we want.

I will leave you with this question one last time. What is in your cup? What will eventually spill when someone or something bumps you?


That’s not fair God!

You ever wonder why good things happen to bad people? I do. It’s mind-blowing to me that those who do evil, speak evil and just are plain evil get the good things in life. Not that I want bad things to happen to them, but I do want to see justice prevail. I especially hate whenever I work towards something only for it to not work out but for those who are not quite living “right” get the easy way out. It’s not fair!

Has that ever happened to you? I am sure you’ve experience this before. You were honest your whole career only to get fired and the person who was lazy, dishonest and cheated at their job got the promotion. Maybe it’s you lost a mom or dad that was serving the Lord with all their heart and you have friends who’s parents spit on God’s word and they are perfectly healthy. Maybe you were diagnosed with a terrible disease that took your dreams away only for your friends that are addicted to drugs and alcohol make it in life. I don’t know what you, “that’s not fair God,” moment is, but what I do know those are real and often hard to navigate through.

Many of us at some point in our life have questioned the goodness of God. We question why God allow good things to happen to bad people. It’s not like we want people suffer right? I don’t think that’s the majority of our hearts, but what we do want is “fairness” or justice. People get away with murders and crimes. People in power get recognition when they live a double standard life. People lie and cheat and never get caught. Christians who serve and love the Lord die from cancer. People who serve and love the Lord get fired from their jobs, lose their children and end up in financial difficulty. Christians who serve and love the Lord it seems like get dealt the wrong hand. Is God really good when He gives all the good to the wrong people? 

This is actually addressed in the Bible. The prophet Habakkuk actually felt the way we feel sometimes. In the book Habakkuk (yes the prophet Habakkuk named the book after himself), we find that the idea of “fairness” is addressed. Habakkuk is found in the Old Testament and one of the most unique books as readers get to listen on his conversation with God. This actually took place during the final days of the Assyrian Empire and the beginning of Babylonian’s world rulership under Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar. We read that the prophet Habakkuk is trying to believe God is good when there was so much evil rampant.

In this book we find out that God’s word was being neglected which increased violence and corrupt leaders. We also see that those who do serve God are being treated as slaves and scums of the earth. The appointed leaders were abusing alcohol and sex and God wasn’t doing anything about it. And idolatry, the engine that drives corruption, was running rampant in the hearts of those who lived in Judah. It’s fair to say that Judah had it bad and Habakkuk wasn’t having it, so he talked to God about it. Habakkuk never accuses the people of Israel. He is the only minor prophet that didn’t meet the people where they were at and tell them to run from their wicked ways. The book of Habakkuk is actually a lamenting if you will. I conversation between Habakkuk and God on the injustice found in the kingdom of Israel. So, what did God say? In so many words, God says,

  • He will bring Babylon down
  • He uses the cycle to bring the rise and fall of nations
  • He doesn’t endorse actions, but what is puffed up will fall down

What did Habakkuk realize through Gods response? You read this in the closing chapters, that..

  1. You’re understanding of who God is will determine your response.
  2. When you cannot see God’s hand, trust His Heart.
  3. God is enough. 

When we see injustice and evil we tell ourselves that God really isn’t powerful and He really isn’t understanding. We tell ourselves that if God really is all that great He would fix and do. God just doesn’t care because He would make things better. Your understanding and view of God is one of the most important things because when we are faced with hard times, our understanding of God shapes our response. A lot of us lose faith, place up walls, become hard hearted, reject God and may even walk away from the church. Why? Because we are going through pain and disappointed that God wouldn’t fix things. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Habakkuk uses the word “rock” to describe God. Moses uses the same terminology. Rock is reaffirming that God is your stability. He says in Deuteronomy 32:3,

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he.

We may not have all the answers here on earth. We may never get the answers we so desperately desire, but what we do have is God. And God is enough. When life is disappointing and sad, remember that God is still your rock. We can cling to God regardless of what is happening because we know His heart. The righteous shall live by faith, not by looking around, but rather looking up for strength and hope. Trust God’s plan over your life. 

How can you trust God in the things that are unfair?



There are things we’ve learned to live with. There are things we’ve passed as normal. There are things that were once rare and now a commonality. We’ve made them apart of the mundane day to day living. We’ve passed these things as “just the way things are.” I’m not referring to things we cannot change. Rather things we have complete control over. We’ve become comfortable with the way of life that we are too afraid to restore what we’ve learned to live without. While there are many things we can talk about here, the three areas in life I’ve seen many become comfortable in is the lack of peace, lack of joy and lack of love.

Peace has been replaced with anxiety and fear. We’re consumed by the worlds unknowns, stressors and triggers that we live day by day without peace of heart and mind. Think back for a second. Can you remember the first time you lost peace? Can you remember the moment in life when peace was replaced with anxiety and fear? How is it that an instant in life shifted your entire posture? Granted, there are things we go through in life that stirs us. It makes us question the goodness of God. It could be a loss of a loved one or opportunity. It could be a near death experience. It could be someone violated you or your family that the anxiety and fear of history repeating itself haunts you each day. Peace is hard to restore once lost. It’s hard to regain when life scars us and ruins what once was. But can I share something with you? It sure isn’t impossible to restore.

Peace that passes all understanding is what most of us crave. If you’re honest with yourself, you’d probably say that while the hardship you went through cannot be reversed or erased, you do want to live anxiety and fear free. Maybe you’ve even attempted to restore peace but failed only for anxiety and fear to show its ugly face and intensify it’s terror even more. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, what I do know is that there is a source for peace. Just as you’d go to your local supermarket for food, there is a source for peace. You’ll find out later in this blog though. Keep on reading.

Joy and peace somewhat go hand in hand with each other. Without peace, you probably do not have joy. If you have joy, it’s probably very little. When we don’t have joy we live in misery and despair. Life is oftentimes meaningless. Many times, when we lack joy we are forced into depression or depressive episodes. Like peace, something triggered you into defeat. You’ve given up on your dreams, your goals, and maybe even so on life. Something happened to you or your family, that all hope is lost. There is neither triumph or victory, rather defeat and sadness. Someone did you wrong, and maybe that someone you are blaming or pointing fingers at is yourself. Maybe the person you are pointing fingers at is, God.

It’s hard to have joy when life did you wrong. We’ve dwelled on the wrong done to us that to find joy in the little things is quite a task. It’s hard to find good in each day because we’ve made the misfortune in life become our god. We worship the loss, the wrong done, and the pain and hurt we faced. The past repeats itself daily in our hearts and minds. We cannot shake it no matter how much we try. Pain has ruled your being. An emotion rules you rather than you having control over it. And we’ve become quite okay with that.

Lack of peace and joy often times makes it difficult for us to love others and love ourselves. Many times though, we dare not love because what presented itself as love has ruined us. We love not, because what was meant to be an example of love has scarred and ruined something meant to be wholesome and beautiful. In turn, we live life lacking peace and joy because love is nonexistent within us. We hate, speak in rage and walk in defeat. Love often times presents itself in hopeful speech and living. Love looks a-lot like faith, assurance and confidence. Love, is powerful when existing. When removed it is likewise powerful as it shakes the very core of who we are.

We all crave love. We all desire to know we are loved. We all desire the warmth of love. When we lose love or the concept of love is distorted, it damages how we love those around us. It damages the way we view life. Many times the reason why we lack peace and joy is because love is absent. It’s because we know not how to love and are consumed by anger and hurt. I’d say the best way to restore joy and peace, is to first tackle the restoration of love.

Restoring love. It’s not as easy as someone telling you they love you and all is fixed. It’s not as easy as telling yourself you are loved and all peace and joy is restored. Restoring love is more than action or word. It’s knitting together peaces of your heart making what was once broken, whole. Restoring love is not having the broken parts of your life glued back together, rather it is a healing of the heart where those broken pieces find life and restore it’s position and function in the heart. How do you go about that? How do you restore what you’ve learned to live without? Go to the source.

If you are a Christ follower, you know that the source for healing and restoration is our creator, God. If someone is the creator then naturally, they will be able to restore what’s broken or reestablish what’s gone missing. God is exactly that. He restores, heals, reestablishes and can even refurbish. There’s nothing too big or too small for Him. When all love, joy and peace is gone, He’s your stability. The issue is we refuse to seek the restoring. We’ve become comfortable in our filth that we’d rather live day to day in complaining in misery, downing in doubt and fear and living in hate and anger.

Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means trying to appear callused. I understand there are difficult things to walk through in life, but the matter of the fact is we choose whether to dwell on the past and lose an eye or fix our eyes on Jesus. Dwelling on the past produces an impaired vision. Fixing our eyes on Jesus shapes perspective and character. Bad things happen because we live in a world where people choose to do evil things. The good news is that God, our creator, can make good out of evil.

For what it’s worth, I suggest, give God a try. If you blame Him for your lack of joy, peace and love, take it to Him. Let him know how angry you are. That is perfectly okay. And then wait on Him to respond. He will. Whatever hurt you have held on to that has you okay with living without joy, peace and love, it’s time to say no more. It’s time to restore what you’ve learned to live without. And the source for restoration is, Jesus. Don’t believe me, see for yourself.

Have you learned to live without peace, joy and love? Do you want these restored? How are you going to seek the source today?