"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." Lamentations 3:22 (NIV)
I was stunned. This was not the news I expected.
"You have atypical ductal hyperplasia, or ADH," the doctor said. He explained that ADH is an abnormal growth of cells within the breast ducts.
"You need a bilateral lumpectomy as soon as possible," he concluded.
My first thought was, "Seriously? I'm blind, for heaven's sake! Haven't I already met my quota for suffering?"
Well, that was my first thought, but it was followed by all the "what ifs." You know — What if it's cancer? What if they don't get it all? What if I need radiation? What if this is only the beginning of something far worse?
While my heart was racing, my husband Phil's Ph.D. mind was calculating. He broke the silence and said, "It will be OK."
It didn't feel OK, though. And maybe the reason was that we really didn't know it would be OK. None of us really knows if it will be OK, do we? Life is uncertain.
We want to live out a story that makes sense. We want poems to rhyme and puzzles to be solved. We just want everything to be OK. But the truth is, we really don't know whether or not "it" will be OK.
After the call with the surgeon, Phil and I continued to sit in silence. My soul was churning. When all the pieces hadn't fallen into place, a tidal wave of fear washed over me. But instead of being a wave of emotion that drowned me, it cleared my head and awakened me to a vital truth I needed: It may not be OK, but I will be OK.
I had a deep, inner knowing that within the uncertainty, I could be certain that God cared and was with me.
During the lumpectomy, the doctor removed two golf-ball-sized lumps and I emerged a 34 used-to-be-B! And this may be too much information, but I was only tennis balls to begin with! (Big goofy grin.) A few days after my surgery, Phil and I met with the surgeon for the results of the pathology. All benign!
Thankfully, that chapter of my story had an ending that was genuinely OK. However, during the uncertainty, my emotions vacillated between fear and faith, peace and panic. Yet, my soul remained OK even though it, my situation, wasn't. Why? Well, it wasn't because of my great faith! I did trust God, but I was scared too. It was because of the Lord's great love, I was not consumed; His compassions never failed (Lamentations 3:22).
My friend, because of His great love, you will not be consumed either. Fear, anger or insecurity will not overtake you. His compassions will never fail you. Even in the midst of your heartache, you're still cradled in His compassion. You are as cared for and protected as a baby in a mother's womb.
That's why you will be OK, my friend — no matter what.
When we trust the compassion of God, our problems and fears do not consume us. Because of His love and compassion, we are not overwhelmed.
I was grateful to be among the 70 percent of women who emerge from lumpectomy surgery with a cancer-free result. Many women receive far more difficult news. I couldn't imagine enduring a series of biopsies and surgery just to find myself facing more surgery or radiation, like many women do. Oh, how my heart goes out to them!
You may be one of those women. You may know and love one. Do God's compassions fail if the diagnosis isn't good? Is a bad diagnosis evidence of God's failure to be compassionate?
A surgery may fail, but God's compassions will not.
A treatment may fail, but God's compassions will not.
A relationship may fail, but God's compassions will not.
A dream may fail, but God's compassions will not.
My friend, no matter what you're facing, God cares for you and will carry you. It may not be OK, but, because of the Lord's great love, you will be OK.
Lord, carry me today. Show me Your care for me. If I begin to feel overwhelmed, overwhelm me with Your peace and presence. Reassure me that no matter what, I will be OK. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: What are you facing that makes you feel fearful — as if it won't be OK?
How can the Lord's great love for you protect you from becoming consumed by your situation?
Power Verses: Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)
© 2014 by Jennifer Rothschild. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org
He [Nicodemus] came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. John 3:2
Some start their quest for Christ discreetly. Quietly they read a book about God or seek Him in the confines of a church or cathedral. It is a low key search for the Lord. Those who are just curious about Christ are not ready to follow Him in faith, but they are open to learning more about Jesus. For fear of being made fun of by their unbelieving friends, they may hide their faith experiment. Nonetheless, like a moth moves toward light, they draw closer to God’s warm love.
Nicodemus was curious about Christ. He came to see Jesus by night for fear of being found out by his friends. Like many today, he acknowledged that Jesus was a gifted teacher from God, but did not accept Him as God. Yes, our Lord taught as no one else: with authority, clarity and humility. He taught beautifully and boldly. However, His teaching was not an end, but a means to reveal a person’s need to believe in Him, as their Lord and Savior. Christ taught to trust in Him.
“The people were amazed at his teaching, because he [Jesus] taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law” (Mark 1:22).
Are you just curious about Christ, or do you really know Him in a trusting relationship? Do you secretly seek Him or do you publicly profess Him? Curiosity about Christ is not enough, unless it leads to conversion to Christ. Curiosity can create a circumstance that educates and allows the Holy Spirit to draw a heart to Himself. So, seek to learn more of the Lord, so you can know the Lord. It’s not a sterile intellectual exercise that tingles your thoughts, but a spiritual transaction that transforms your heart. Engage in curiosity to move you closer, not further from God.
Furthermore, curiosity can lead to conversion. Nicodemus eventually went public with his faith. He defended Christ to his peers and he accompanied Joseph to request and prepare the body of Jesus for burial. Thus, be patient with those curious in their faith. Be a catalyst for them to grow in their spiritual understanding by pointing them back to the study of Scripture. Pray with them, pray for them and support them in their search for God. Curiosity about Christ can lead to Christ.
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28)?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, use my curiosity about Christ to grow my faith in Christ.
Related Readings: Psalm 69:32; Isaiah 55:6, 58:2; John 7:45-52, 19:38-42; Acts 15:17
Post/Tweet today: Curiosity about Christ is meant to move us closer to Christ, not further from Christ. #wisdomhunters
© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry firstname.lastname@example.org /www.wisdomhunters.com
Late September 1904—Lincoln, Nebraska Caroline
Caroline Lang slapped the thick packet of meticulously handwritten notes onto the center of Noble’s leather desk blotter and then flopped into the nearest chair. The spindled legs slid on the glossy oak floor, raising a high-pitched complaint. Instead of apologizing for the scratches her carelessness had surely created—Noble was the most persnickety perfectionist she’d ever known—she said, “There you are. A completed report on accommodations for the sugar beet harvesters. I earned my week’s leave with that one.” She grimaced at her purple-stained fingertips. “If I never see another beet, it will be too soon.”
Noble had the gall to chuckle. “Oh, now, Caroline, you didn’t like beets before I sent you to Omaha. You’ve always said they stink when they’re cooking.”
“They do.” She nodded emphatically, causing several escaping tendrils from her simple bun to bounce on her shoulders. “And they don’t have to be cooked to stink. You ought to smell them when they’re just sitting in a bin in the sun.” Wearily she pushed to her feet. “I intend to spend my week of leave sleeping. You know where to find me if you have any questions about the report, but I’m sure you’ll find it concise. I was trained by the best, after all.” She aimed a fond grin at her friend and mentor.
Noble set the leather-bound packet aside without peeking in it. “You know I trust you, Caroline.”
His simple comment warmed her, and she gave him another smile as she turned toward the door.
“And since I trust you…”
Something in his tone stilled her hand, which hovered midway to the polished brass doorknob. She glanced over her shoulder and caught him stroking his beard, his familiar sign of worry. She returned to the chair, seating herself carefully this time. “What is it?” Fear struck, making her mouth go dry. “Has something happened to Annamarie?” She prayed Noble’s sweet, frail wife hadn’t met with harm while she’d been away on an assignment. She loved Annamarie almost as much as Noble did.
“Annamarie is fine.”
Relief slumped Caroline’s shoulders. “Oh, thank heaven…”
“But, unfortunately, I lost an investigator.” Noble’s face pinched into creases of sorrow. “A fine man—Harmon Bratcher. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.”
“Oh no…” As an investigator for the Labor Commission, Caroline knew they could meet danger. Sometimes entering workplaces to openly explore, other times posing as workers to observe the business practices on the sly, their presence was rarely welcomed and occasionally threatened. Even the required travel held various hazards. Each time she set out, Noble prayed over her for her safety. She depended on him and Annamarie praying her through the investigations. So far she’d always come back unscathed. Tired, yes, but unscathed.
Her heart ached for poor Mr. Bratcher, for his family, and for Noble, who felt accountable for his agents.
Caroline rounded the desk and bent down to wrap her arms around Noble’s shoulders and press her cheek to his. His thick white beard tickled her jaw, but she didn’t pull away. He needed the comfort, and she needed to offer it. He patted her wrists in a silent thank-you. “It has been difficult, I confess. I considered him a good friend.”
Although Caroline couldn’t claim Bratcher as a friend, she’d met him and admired his strong stance on changing the laws concerning the age of workers in the United States. The coalition to end child labor had lost a strong proponent with his untimely passing. She shifted to perch on the edge of Noble’s desk, leaving one hand on his broad shoulder in a gesture of comfort. “What happened?”
“According to the ruling from law enforcement officials, he broke his neck when he fell into an elevator shaft.”
Such a horrific way to end one’s life. But mixed with the horror, she experienced a niggle of wariness. “You don’t believe the ruling, do you?”
Noble pinned her with a steady look. “I suppose it could be true. Accidents happen, especially in factories. But the week before he fell, I received a telegram from Harmon saying he intended to sneak into the factory on Sunday—the only day no workers were on duty—to retrieve questionable bookkeeping records he’d glimpsed the week before. But he died before he could submit any other information. There were no documents on his body. So I can only surmise he fell into the shaft before he laid claim to the records, or—”
“Or someone took them from him,” she finished.
Noble nodded somberly. He caught her hand. “Caroline, I know you just returned from an investigation. You’re tired and have rightfully earned your week of rest. But there’s an opening at the factory where Harmon died.”
Caroline stiffened, anticipating his next request.
“The opening is for a toter, a job generally given to women.” His fingers tightened on her hand. “You’re my only female agent. Would you go to Sinclair, apply for the position, and use it to look into Harmon’s death? I’d need to send you out on this evening’s train.”
The entire journey home she’d anticipated a lengthy soak in a hot bath followed by days of lying on her comfortable feather mattress in a state of languor. The thought of departing that evening without even a few hours of rest made her want to groan. But how could she deny Noble when he’d done so much for her? Noble went on. “Of course, we can’t make investigating Harmon’s death your official reason for being there. We’d be overstepping our bounds with the local authorities. So, as far as the commission is concerned, you’d be there to finish Harmon’s report on the factory’s safety features…or the lack thereof. Harmon sent several messages about his findings. He was especially concerned about the number of underage workers at the factory, but he died before submitting a full report.”
Caroline gave a start, her pulse speeding into a gallop. “Underage workers?”
Noble’s lips formed a grim line. “According to Harmon, this factory seems to have a disproportionate number of child workers.”
Her tiredness melted in light of this new information. The opportunity to further her personal battle to end child labor and to put Noble’s worries to rest concerning Bratcher’s death proved too tempting to resist. “I’ll go.”
The relief in Noble’s face compensated for the loss of her hot bath and days of lazy recuperation. “Bless you, Caroline. There’s no one else I would trust with this mission.”
His confidence in her both touched and terrified her. After all, one investigator had already died in the factory. Go with me, dear Lord. She drew in a deep breath and vowed, “I won’t let you down, Noble. I promise.”
Excerpted from Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer Copyright © 2014 by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
What is a rescue mission? I mean really. Not to sound dramatic on this, but isn't the call of missions placed on all followers of Jesus? Now if that is true, then isn't a work of mission really a work of rescuing? There is a lost world outside and Jesus has commissioned us to go after it with life and joy - to rescue people from the jaws of death, the devil and hell itself.
David Lomas believes that to be true. He heard the word of the Lord to go, and that is exactly what he did. He went. David didn't go to a Bible-belt community where it may be a bit easier to teach and preach. No. He went to one of this countries most ungodly cities.
David serves as the lead pastor at Reality in San Francisco, a church community that started in 2010 in the Castro District. According to Wikipedia, "the Castro remains one of the most prominent symbols of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activism and events." He lives, with his wife Ashley, in one of the most un-churched cities in the nation, but one that is bursting with new life and grace of God. The Reality family of churches is a growing movement committed to relational church planting and serving the broader body of Christ.
I had to talk with this man. I wanted to hear his story and hear from him about what God was doing. Let me say this - The Gospel is alive in the Castro District and Jesus continues to change people into the likeness of Himself!
John: David, I'm wondering before with get started and talk about your book that just came out, would you be willing to give us a little bit of background information? Who is David Lomas, where did you came from, how you got into the position that you are now, as both a pastor and as a author.
David: Yeah, so I was born and raised in the central valley of California, so right now, I live in San Francisco. About 3, 4 hours south of here, almost to LA, is a little town right in the middle of California, called Bakersfield. Born and raised there. Didn't grow up in a Christian home at all. Was invited to church several times growing up. I always said that it was against my religion to go to church. Didn't really have a religion but it didn't involve church.
I reluctantly went one time when I was like in 6th grade, and it was a very pentecostal church, and I was scared to death. I never went back to church, and then my freshman year of high school, a friend of mine started playing in a worship band at his church, and he was in a band that I would go and watch, like where I can get in as a freshman in high school, like pizza places and stuff like that. He invited me to church and said, "My band is playing at church," and I thought that was weird, but I went, and it was pretty fun.
Then, right around I think my junior year of high school ... I didn't really go back that much. Junior of high school, I made a decision, I don't even know what it was. It might have been growing up kind of marginally Catholic, so it might have been those Catholic roots, but I'm like, okay, no matter what happens, when I wake up on Sunday morning from partying or whatever, I'm going to go to church. I don't even know why I did that. I think it was God just calling me, but I had no idea at the time why I was doing this.
I would wake up random places on Sunday morning from partying all Saturday night, and I would wake up everyone to go to church. Like, "Hey, church starts at 10:30. It's 10:00. Everybody, wake up and let's get to church." I was like an evangelist before I was even saved. I'm like, "Let's get to church and there's free coffee and donuts there, so let's sober up." We'd get there, and we'd listen to the teaching, and I don't know, I just would go.
I befriended a youth pastor there, and they invited me to a Wednesday night church one time, and I thought that was the strangest thing. I'm like, "You're going to church twice in a week? That's absurd. I mean, once is enough. What are you doing?" We were in a room, Wednesday night Bible study youth group. We were going around, sharing like, "When did you come into a personal relationship with Christ?" That was the question that everyone had to answer. I mean, I had no idea how to answer that question. I didn't even know that was a thing.
I turned to my friend who invited me years ago. I'm like, "Hey," his name was Daniel, "Daniel, what do I say? Like, when it gets to my turn, what do I say?" He goes, "Don't worry. Just say, you don't know Jesus on that level yet," and I'm like, "Oh, that's a good one. I'm going to use that one."
My turn and the youth pastor just says, "Dave, when did you come into a personal relationship with Jesus?" I go, "Well, I don't know Jesus on that level yet." I just look to my right, like next please, like he's going to pass over me, but I didn't know I was just pitching him right down the center, lob ball. I mean, this is every youth pastor's dream was to get this question, and he said, "Well, Dave," and he just pressed in, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?" I'm like, "I'd go to heaven, no problem, easy." He's like, "Why ... "
I seriously thought in my head, I'm good enough. I'm good enough to get into heaven. He shared with me the gospel, and that night, I said the prayer to become a Christian. I think it was more of a fire insurance sort of thing, and then, I didn't change anything. Still sold drugs, still partied, and then about maybe 4 or 5 months later, I got kicked out of school for selling drugs, and my friend had just given me a Bible, same friend that invited me to church years ago.
I opened it up, after getting kicked out of school not knowing what to do with my life, opened it up in the middle of the book to the book of Job, but I thought it said "job," and I'm like, "I need a job. That's what I need."
John: Yeah, of course.
David: I'm going to read this to get a job. I started reading it, 4 chapters in, God called me and said, "You can go to ... " well, it was just the whole Proverbs thing. "You go down this road and it leads to death or you can go down this road, it leads to life." I said, "I'm going to follow Jesus. I'm going to give up everything and follow him."
I got rid of all my drugs that night, called my youth pastor up, said, "I'm a Christian now. I'm going to follow Jesus. Disciple me." Well, I didn't say that, but you know. "I want to follow Jesus now." He discipled me, got into ministry, and started doing youth ministry when I graduated high school. Was ordained at 21. God started giving me favor in doing ministry, and I loved it.
I became a youth pastor and then a young adult pastor, and then, I met a friend in Santa Barbara, who said, "I want to plant a church," and he basically invited me to become a part of Reality, and I moved there, to Santa Barbara, and then from Santa Barbara, God called me to San Francisco to plant a church in San Francisco.
We started the church in 2010, and it's just turned 4 years old, and it's been wild. It's been absolutely wild.
John: Was there a point, as you were reading through the book of Job ... like obviously something sparked in your life. Was there, what am I saying here, like a resonating story between the two of you, between both Job dealing with all of these really harsh realities of his circumstances and maybe a little bit of what you were going through as an individual?
David: Absolutely. I had a student Bible (I know you guys sell them at your store), but I got one that was put out, I don't know, in the early 90s, or mid 90s, and when I opened it up to Job, it said, "When bad things happen to good people," was the student Bible heading over that, and I'm like, "That's me. I am good," I was still convinced of my goodness, "I'm good. I'm not nearly as bad as all my other friends. Why me? Why did I get kicked out of school?"
I read it, and what struck me was Job was being tested, was allowed to be tested by God, and I had zero Bible knowledge, but I somehow resonated with that going, "Maybe God is testing me and he wants to get my attention, and will I curse God or will I choose to follow him?" It was at that moment that I really had a vision, I think a vision of God. Christ going, "Choose. This way or this way. This way leads to death. This way leads to life."
John: Your life has been changed ever since.
David: Yeah, absolutely. It was that moment of repentance, turning from my ways to God's ways. I prayed the prayer before. I don't know what it did. I can't even tell you what it did. I might have made me receptive to when the Spirit called me, but that moment, the Spirit of God called me, and I turned repentant and followed him, and that was the moment it all changed for me.
John: David, this is not a secret, but you have chosen to pastor a church in one of the most un-Christian cities here in the US. I'm curious maybe about your thoughts as far as being a pastor in a dark place, like where you guys have chosen residency, and what does that mean as far as other cities? Are you saying that the rest of the US is doing that much better spiritually than San Francisco, or what? Just give your thoughts on that.
David: Yeah. I think that San Francisco is just as sinful as everyone else, but everyone else manages their sin better. You might have religious sin somewhere. Other cities might wrestle with different types of sin. San Francisco just sins a lot more out loud, a lot more colorfully, but just as sinful. I mean, I've lived in Southern California. I lived in beautiful Santa Barbara, and people just sin. It's the same rebellion as in other places.
Ministering here? I love ministering here. I heard one time someone say that when they ministered in Texas they would have to convince people they're not a Christian before they could share the gospel. I'm like, "Wow, that would be really hard, to tell someone they're not," like, "You're not a Christian. Just because you go to church doesn't make you a Christian." They had to convince them that they're not first, like cultural Christianity doesn't count, and that this is what the true gospel is.
Here, I don't have to work through that layer. Here, I can just say, "This is the gospel," and people here have rejected it so much that it really shines. You hold up the smallest light, and it shines in the darkness, and so, I'm able to get up every Sunday morning and preach truth and it's just black and white, and I love that. I love that opportunity, so ministering here has been one of the joys of my life.
After living in San Francisco for just 3 months, my wife and I felt like God created us to live here. Everything great about this city, we love it. We love the diversity and the complexity of it, the culture of it, the colorfulness of it, the density, I mean, all of it, the food. Just everything about San Francisco, we love. We absolutely love. The architecture, the topography, everything.
We feel like we're created to live here and then not only are we created to live here, but we're called to preach the gospel here, and it's needed and it's like a healing balm to people as soon as they hear it because it's so different than what they hear normally in San Francisco.
John: David, are people responding well to the message of the gospel?
David: Yeah. When I moved here, everyone said, "You're going to the graveyard of churches." I mean, prominent churches and pastors have tried to plant churches here and have put millions of dollars of effort in planning a church here, and almost all of them have failed, and so they said, "So and so has tried it and so and so has tried it and so and so has tried it. Good luck. It's where churches go to die. Have fun," like, "There you go."
I had very low expectations. The church was sending us to plant here. I told them, "Give us 10 years before this church is established. Give us 5 to 10 years of funding and support, because this church is going to take a long time to bring 100 people to get critical mass," and the very first Sunday, it just was packed. I have no idea how, like zero promotion. Our website was horrible. You couldn't even find it even if you Googled our name. I have no idea.
We had a group of people, like 35, 40 people praying, and then our first Sunday, close to 200 people showed up, and then, it just hasn't stopped growing from there, from our very first Sunday. People were very, very hungry for the gospel, and we just came at a ... I don't know. There's a time, San Francisco was just coming up. Our nation was coming out of a recession. San Francisco was leading the way in that, and all these start-ups were happening, all the stuff that the whole world is hearing about right now and happening in San Francisco was starting to happen in 2009, 2010.
We just came right there, and I think there was this catalytic sort of moment, there was something in the air here where God was doing something different, and our church was just right there at that right time. I have no idea how it worked, but it's working. We great to 4 services. We have 4 services going on. We had to turn people away from church because we couldn't fit them in the room, and we just recently got into a bigger building that seats like 1400 people, but we're packed again. We're at capacity, and we don't know what to do next.
Yeah, I don't know. God's just doing it. I don't know.
John: I heard once before of a church that was being planted in a large city that seemed to be kind of living through this more casual approach to Christianity where it was more of a cultural or a club kind of atmosphere. Almost everybody went to church, but hardly anybody had a real relationship with Jesus, and to some extent, that church, when they started, they just raised a banner on the flagpole saying, "Hey, we are a church that is all about the centrality of the gospel. We're all about Jesus and wanting to see and understand how he changes us," and the same thing kind of happened.
It sounds to me that to some extent, you guys are in that same type of approach. You're preaching the gospel to people, to a people that are just very hungry for it.
David: Yeah, absolutely. When we first started the church, we said we're a theological community that's centered around Christ, and we'll preach, which is like we'll have conversation, but we're going to preach the gospel. As we've done that, as we've proclaimed Christ and made Christ central, God has drawn people to himself. We didn't come in trying to be like this really cool, hip thing. People thought our name was Reality, because we were so real, like, "Are you guys because you're real?"
We stripped everything down to no production at all at the church, basically a band, but they weren't even spotlighted. You couldn't even see who was on the stage, and you could see the words on the screen, and that was proclaiming the theology of what we were singing, and that was it. People were like, it was so refreshing to people. They were like, "That's so refreshing." The emphasis is off the people and on God and it's transcendent and it's beautiful, and so, yeah, absolutely.
John: That's fantastic. David, you have a new book that you just came out with with David C Cook Publishers. Titled The Truest Thing About You. What is behind this? Give us the 30,000-foot view of this book and how it's speaking into the identity of those that you guys are ministering to.
David: Yeah, I guess, I'll give you a little back story behind the book that probably captures why we wrote the book, why I wrote the book, and why we put it out.
About a 1-1/2 years into the church, we were growing, like we were saying and like I was saying, and we just got finished with the book of Mark, and it was great, and people were falling in love with Jesus, people were speaking the name of Jesus and getting baptized in Jesus' name. It was just great. It just Christ centered. It was a beautiful thing.
After that, we were seeing all these people turn to Christ, but then, they were still sinning in the church, and I don't know what I expected, but I expected, you come in contact with the real Christ, and he'll completely change your life. He'll change your lifestyle, and we weren't seeing that as much, and so, I wanted to teach them holiness, and I wanted to bring down the hammer of holiness.
I told me executive pastor. I'm like, "I'm going to teach them holiness after Mark, and I'm going to make people like ... " I almost put my youth pastor hat back on and make people sign pledges and wear promise rings and stuff like that. I realized if I start doing this, if I want to teach on holiness the way I want to teach on it, everyone will feel like they've been duped. Like, "You brought us in with the gospel, and now, you're putting on us the law." That sort of thing.
I felt like I can't do that. I know that there's something wrong, not resonating with me there, and then, as I was reading through the New Testament and I wanted to teach on a book and I came to Colossians 2 and 3, and Paul is talking to the church in Colossae, saying that these lists that you keep doing, he says in chapter that do not touch, do not taste, do not feel, these sort of rules that you put on Christianity do nothing to restrain your sensual indulgences.
Then, he goes right into chapter 3, which is all about Christian sanctification, and he says, but who you are in Christ, the fact that Christ is your life, you have to live from there that identity. I took that and I was starting to go through it and finding all these places where I was realizing before God ever tells us what to do, he tells us who we are, so every single command of holiness is based on a truth about us. Then, I was like, I don't think I've ever really understood that to the level of profoundness that I did when I was studying it for a series, and I said, "I need to teach our church how to find their identity in Christ."
What I did, this was 2011, and I couldn't find that many good books on identity, and I'm like, this is it. I started teaching on it, and everyone started resonating with it. I almost feel like no one's talking about this, like who I am in Christ, make that the basis of my entire identity and then from there flows holiness, from there flows what I'm supposed to do, from that flows the commandments, and then, it started tapping into what ways people find their identity in, especially in San Francisco.
They move here to work. They move here to express themselves sexually. They move here to flaunt what they have, and when we do that, we find our identity in a job, in a thing, in a sexual orientation or desire, and that's not where we're called to find our identity.
From that series of identity comes this book, so this book is all about who we are in Christ, getting all the way back to Imago Dei. How we were created, and then letting that, those hints of creation, who we are, who we were created to be really, give us signposts to who God wants to remake us into and being conformed to the image of his son, and then taking that from because of who we are in Christ, then what we're called to do, there's power behind that. We can actually live into our identity in Christ because of who we are.
Then, it goes into every single command of God is based on the truth about us, and that's the whole title of the book, The Truest Thing About You. Once you find the truest thing and you realize and come to understand and accept the truest thing about us, everything else flows from there, and so, that's like a high level of what the book is about. It's about identity. It's about our desires, and it's about why all those things really matter in our walk with Christ, and I think it's the whole point of sanctification.
John: There's a foreword in the book by another pastor, Francis Chan. How did that come about?
David: Francis is a good friend of mine. We met here in San Francisco. He moved here, I think, 2011. The church was just turning a year old, and I remember him showing up to church and we had a mutual friend. My friend said, "Hey, you should go to Dave's church since you're in San Francisco. Check it out." He came one Sunday and we had lunch afterwards, and we just kind of hit it off. Our hearts were kindred, like our hope for the church, our hopes for San Francisco, our hopes for what the gospel can do in the life of a person. We just kind of connected.
We've been friends for several years now. I wrote this book, and I sent it to Francis, saying, "Hey, I'd love if you could endorse the book or maybe thinking about writing a foreword to the book or whatever," and so, he's like, I mean, he probably gets that 100 times a day. I would imagine everyone in the world wants Francis to do something in the book. I sent it to him not expecting anything back, and he read it on his plane ride to China. He got to China, and he emailed me immediately. He said, "Hey, I don't have time to tell you that much stuff, but I deeply love this book. Like, it moved me. It changed the way I think about things."
Then it was almost like a little weird ... It was kind of weird to me, but it was almost like a little confession saying, "I think I've pushed people to mission not based on their identity in Christ but based on you have to do this for God," and he goes, "I was so convinced that I needed to tell people who they are in Christ." I was blown away. I was like, "Wow, thank you," all this other stuff, and I said, "Let me know if you would consider writing something for the book."
He said, "Hey, I wrote you a letter, and you can do whatever you want with it. You could put it in the book as is. You could change it to be more like a foreword or an endorsement, whatever, or you could just ditch it, whatever you want to do." We read it, and it was just such a heartfelt letter of how this book changed the way I see and pastor and even parent as well as other stuff, and we just thought, "Hey, I'm going to leave it in just as it is, and so the foreword of the book is basically a letter that he wrote to me, telling how the book really impacted his life.
John: That's so cool. All right. I'm going to read a little bit here, just one quote at the very end, and then, I just have one more question for you, David.
You write at the end "Christ is your life. He gives you a new identity and will work that new identity out in your life until the day when he appears. On that day, you will finally see clearly as Christ sees you now. You will know as you are known." What a great promise that is. That's awesome. I've been challenged by this book, and I want to encourage anybody who's reading this interview to go out and pick up a copy of David Lomas' new book, The Truest Thing About You. It's a good book, it's a challenging book.
I wrestled as I was reading this book. There were a couple of parts in it as I was going through, and I was like, "I don't like where he's going with this," and then, of course, by the end of the chapter, I was like, "Of course, yes. This makes sense," and I felt like God was hitting me over the head with a 2 x 4, which was great.
Hey, I have to ask, are you a coffee drinker or a Mountain Dew drinker? What is your culture like in San Francisco?
David: I don't remember the last time I had a Mountain Dew. Coffee all the way, absolutely. The culture here in San Francisco is a insane coffee culture, almost too insane, almost too snobby. Yeah, it's just like insane.
John: Now, is it like froo-froo coffee for you, or is it just like, hey, straight up black coffee?
David: Oh, straight up. Like, I'll add some milk or something to it, but yeah, every morning.
John: Anyway, David, hey, thank you so much, man, for chatting with me today. I really appreciate it. God bless you, brother. Thank you very much.
For more on David's book, click here.
“The truth hurts, the phrase goes, but Dave Lomas shows how the truest truth blesses and heals. Read this book and be reminded, or hear for the first time, that you are beloved. Trust it is true, and love will change your life. Enjoy Lomas’ masterful fusion of pastoral compassion, writerly wit, and spiritual sincerity.”
Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology at Messiah College and author of The End of Sexual Identity
“We live in a world where it is so incredibly easy to have what we think about ourselves subtly and sometimes not so subtly shaped by culture, people, and our own insecurities. The Truest Thing about You is a compass and a map that will help us see how we may have missed the incredible way God created us to be and how He sees us, which is our true identity. Too many people live their lives not understanding what Dave writes about here and what a joy it is thinking about how people’s lives will radically change if they grasp the truths within this book.”
Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith and author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church
“Dave Lomas is not only a great pastor and author, but a great friend. Over the last few years my heart has been broken beyond my wildest imagination as I watched my young daughter die of cancer. There were times that I would not have made it through if Dave were not there to shepherd my soul with the same great wisdom, insight, compassion and incisive truth that overflows this book. I am so thankful for him and the way that this book will serve to heal and propel so many into the mission of Christ.”
Britt Merrick, pastor and author of Godspeed
“The Truest Thing about You is an important book. It’s important because it cuts to the core of what it means to be human, what it means to be loved by God, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And this is not just theory. Dave writes from deep experiences pastoring in one of America’s most identity-rich cities. Rarely has a book gotten to the heart of the issue with such precision and skill. I believe this will be a powerful tool for helping people be more transformed into the image of Jesus.”
Jon Tyson, lead pastor at Trinity Grace Church New York
“We are a generation haunted by the question: who am I? More than ever before, we wander through life confused and lost amid the panoply of options. In a cultural milieu of one identity crisis after another, Dave Lomas’ first book comes as firm ground under our feet. Dave is a friend I know and respect. He’s smart, humble, kind, self-effacing, and he has something to say. I encourage you to listen up.”
John Mark Comer, pastor for teaching and vision at Bridgetown and author of Loveology
“Dave Lomas is hitting on one of the great felt needs of our generation by asking this transformative question: What is the truest thing about you? His perspective on identity is truly needed, flipping the entire subject on its head and driving to the center of who we are as people, and ultimately as leaders. Is it what you do? Is it what you're good at? Is it who you know? The answer is so much bigger than these things. I urge you not to miss this important book!”
Brad Lomenick, author of The Catalyst Leader and President and Key Visionary of Catalyst
"There is only one thing more important than who you think you are … that's who God knows you are. Our lives are full of opportunities to define ourselves by what we do, have, or desire, but with honesty and wisdom, Dave Lomas brings us back to the truest thing about you. This book is for everyone who wonders 'who am I, really?' … which is everyone!"
Nicole Unice, Christian counselor and coauthor of Start Here
Francesca Battistelli returns with her fourth album, If We’re Honest. Featuring her radio hit debut song “Write Your Story,” this CD perfects the soulful, pop sound that began with her gold-certified debut, My Paper Heart, and its best-selling follow-up, Hundred More Years. If We’re Honest is full of bright, upbeat songs and personal, thought-provoking ballads that will inspire, encourage and challenge you in your daily walk with God, and ultimately point you toward the hope that is only found in Him.
In the video below, Franny talks about her new song He Knows My Name.
What do you think of it? Are you excited about her new album?
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
My mouth has always gotten me in trouble. You might say I am "quick to speak, slow to think." Apparently, the filter between my brain and my mouth doesn't always work well.
I don't mean to hurt anyone. I mean, it's not really "gossip." That's wrong, I know. But this is only harmless sharing ... really. I'm concerned and share those concerns. It's just girlfriends talking. Right?
The danger of "just girlfriends talking" hit hard after recalling a recent conversation with a friend after church. After speaking my mind, I realized the woman we were chatting about was very close to where the conversation took place. Panic and a sick feeling stirred in my stomach. Questions raced through my mind:
Did she hear us?
How should I act when I see her?
What kind of excuse can I make up for why we were talking about her?
Words from Ephesians 4:29 rushed into my mind as conviction filled my heart: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Nothing in that conversation had been helpful in building up the topic of our conversation. Not one word spoken brought benefit to anyone who listened. Our conversation was truly gossip — casual, unconstrained talk.
That potentially-damaging conversation made me realize once again the power of my words. I can use them to hurt or to help.
I'm committed to making a change with my words. Oh how different my conversations are when I use the acronym "T.H.I.N.K." before saying anything. This helps me determine if I should speak or keep silent. Are my words:
T: True? H: Helpful? I: Inspiring? N: Necessary? K: Kind?
I love to talk. But sometimes my careless chatter has hurt others, and my loose lips have left me full of regret. However, God's Word and the T.H.I.N.K. acronym help me to use my words wisely. They help me know when to press pause so I can walk away from a conversation without any regrets.
Will you join me in becoming more than just a girlfriend talking? Will you challenge yourself to T.H.I.N.K. before you speak and to use your words to benefit as well as to build up others?
Dear Lord, You gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason. Help me think before I speak. I want to be a wise woman and use my words to help, heal, honor, benefit and build up those who listen. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: Put to memory T.H.I.N.K. How can this acronym benefit your relationships?
Is there a recent conversation you regret? Consider if you need to apologize for any hurtful words.
Power Verses: Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." (NIV)
James 1:26, "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." (NIV)
© 2014 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org