Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Separate Not Severed

Even as I ranted my Dixie cup prayer last week, exasperated from endlessly bailing the swelling sea of cultural contaminants from my family, I received my answer: “In it not of it.”

I’ve heard it preached and repeated in Christian conversations a million times, simply accepting it as the way it is, but this time, I wanted to know more. What does it look like on a daily basis when the of it pulls on the in it with such force that the two become indistinguishable? How do I teach this truth to my kids in such a way that it gives them the strength they need to make unpopular choices? What does it mean down deep and in context with what else God says about living here on earth but being citizens of another realm. Strangers. Aliens.

The saying is based on Jesus’ prayer for believers in John 17:14-18:

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world (emphasis added).

When we are saved by grace and put our faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus says we are born again. A Pharisee named Nicodemus once questioned how this could be, wondering how a man could re-enter the womb. Jesus answers in John 3:6,  explaining in it not of it:

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

As grown men and women, we don’t pass back through the birth canal; we are born new in the Spirit and no longer come from or belong to the multitudes who live separated from God and opposite the cause of Christ. As far as world affairs and all things earthly, we don’t belong. We are not of it. We aren’t defined or driven by  the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ” (

Rather, He sends us towards the world to be among those who are alienated from God. Just as God sent Jesus into the world "to bear witness to the truth" (John 18:37), so He sends us, charging us with making disciples (Matthew 28:19) by following His precepts and instruction and then teaching others to do the same.

Our mission becomes impossible if we remove ourselves from the world or are too busy trying to fit in with it. Jesus went where sinners were and talked with them. In love and without condemnation, He told them what they needed to do to leave that environment or sin, but He didn’t stay there and participate in their sin so He’d be able to talk to them about it.

He was among them but not a part of them. He is our model. In it with the people, not of its things and pleasures.

To be in the world is to maintain our connection through relationships with people, loving them as Christ loved us in order that they will know we are His followers.

To be of the world is to embrace or partake in its way of thinking and living, enjoying what it offers as substitutes to salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

There is a delicate balance. Paul explains in I Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” With Jews, he would follow the law of the Jews; with Gentiles, he would not. He was a chameleon of sorts, relating to those around him in order to win them to Christ. But verse twenty-one holds the key: whether with Jew or Gentile, he didn’t do anything contrary to Christ, “not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ.”

We remain engaged with people; we disengage from things that draw our hearts away from God, and we never do anything contrary to what God tells us to do in order to fit in or relate.

It’s not going to be easy: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

That’s why we need each other. We are our peeps, “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

The people with whom we need to fit in are the children of God, together conforming to God’s word, not the world. Uncompromised.

We love, but we don’t belong.

Lord, give us wisdom and discernment, for us and our children, to live in this world without becoming participants. Reveal areas of participation, and give us strength to separate without severing as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Dixie Cup Prayer

Can I whine for a moment, Lord? Can I tell you how weary I am of how hard it is to remain faithful in a faithless world? How exhausted I am with the unrelenting cultural campaign to turn our children’s hearts away from You? Can I just vent a little bit about feeling so inadequate to recognize the subtle ways Satan diverts their eyes to evil while they wear me down to the point where I can’t see straight?

Sometimes I feel like we’re in a sinking ship bailing water with a Dixie cup. No matter how furiously we get rid of what the world throws our way, another huge wave crashes onto the decks.

Why is it so hard to say “No” to my kids when they just want to be doing what every other kid gets to do? Like FaceBook and Instagram, “harmless” secular music, television shows and movies, boyfriends, books that glorify witchcraft, wizardry, and vampires. The list goes on!

Why does all of this appeal to us even as it repels Your Spirit within us? Why do we want what turns our hearts from You?

How in the world can I keep an eye on it all, screening every post, checking every friend, following who and what they follow, watching what they want to watch, reading what they want to read, listening to what they want to listen? Multiply that by more than one child, and it’s literally impossible. I can’t do it, Lord!

You tell us the wide road that leads to destruction is easy, and many will find it. Perhaps its lure is popularity. Falling into the trap of wanting my children to feel like they belong and to know the acceptance of others. Wanting that myself, including with my own kids. 

The thing that gets me is that their desires for the things of this world aren’t only encouraged by friends outside the church; they are asking because it’s what all their friends from church are doing.

Lord, how is this happening? It makes the job of raising kids who are in the world but not of it so much harder!

You never promised easy, though, did You? In fact, You said we would face trials, persecution, and difficulty. I guess I’m just being a baby; I want it to be easier. You desired that too, didn’t You, in the garden, when You prayed to the point of sweating blood that the cup of the cross would pass by You?

Even as I whine, Lord, I know what I truly want. When my rant is exhausted, I am left with the truth that what I want more than anything is to walk the narrow road that leads to life with my family, no matter how sparsely traveled it may be. No matter how difficult it is to stay there. I want my children, when they no longer live under our rules, to follow You directly onto the narrow road of life because they love You and follow You there.

Don’t let me compromise Your best for my children in order to pursue a counterfeit Satan presents as better! Help me trust You exclusively to keep their hearts while doing exactly what You require of me as a Christ-following mom.

Thank you for James. He sees things so clearly. Where I want to waffle, he has no problem saying “No,” even if it makes him unpopular with our kids. Things that get so convoluted by popular thought in my mind are obvious to him. Thank you for his unwavering commitment to create a safe environment for our kids, even if it’s not the “fun” environment the world dangles before them.

Help us reject the temptation to check out for the night and instead invest that time in a safe and fun family culture. Help us muster our last ounce of energy to read a good book together or play a game. To take a walk or visit one of the many museums or historical attractions within an hour’s drive of our home. To have a family devotional after dinner. To swim together, serve together, give together. To have others into our home for games and dessert.

How can we tell our kids there are better things to do than watch television and zone out to electronics while we excuse ourselves to our bedroom for the evening to watch TV?!?!
Help me, Lord. Help us!

This fight is too great for me, Lord, but it’s not too great for You, and Christ within us, the hope of glory. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength and through the power of the Holy Spirit! We may be in the battle of our lives, but it is You who will win the war! Help me focus on how big You are, not how strong the pressures of the world feel against our family’s back.

I turn now to Your word to search out Your truth for myself and my family. Thank You that scripture holds every answer we need to live a life fully pleasing You. Lead and guide me, Holy Spirit, into all truth. Help us, Lord, to be unpopular and make unpopular decisions in order to be wholly Yours as parents and as a family.

In the mighty name of the only Savior, Jesus, I love You.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Consolation Obedience Is No Obedience

My family will be the first to tell you that I am a lame nurse maid. When someone is sick, I’ll stick it out for a little while, soothing, doting, and responding compassionately to moans of misery and requests for all sorts of assistance, but once they are as comfortable as I can make them and only a touch from God and time will heal, I’ve got things to do! If they are well enough to do something to relieve their own suffering, I expect them to do it rather than indulging their misery and expecting pitied assistance with what they can and need to do for themselves.

If the saying was scriptural, it would be my mantra: God helps those who help themselves. (The Bible actually establishes the opposite, describing God as a defense for the helpless in Isaiah 25:4, NASB; calling it foolish to trust in our own hearts in Proverbs 28:26, and declaring a man cursed for trusting in his own flesh for strength in Jeremiah 17:5.)

Likewise, if someone is going through a hard time, I care, and I’ll listen, but at some point, if there’s no relief, we all have a decision to make: we can either trust God and obey His word, even if it’s hard, or we can wallow in our circumstances, focusing on why life is so hard and so unfair. I don’t want to see anyone in that place, and I genuinely desire for my friends and family to be free of suffering, but at some point, it’s time to move forward.

Clearly I’m not tipping any scales in the mercy department.

I’m actually embarrassed and uncomfortable admitting this about myself because it seems so hard-hearted. Honestly, I’m not! To a certain degree, it’s the weak side of the strengths God has given me.

According to Romans 12:6, we each have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us.  Mercy with cheerfulness is actually a Spirit-given gift to promptly and eagerly extend kindness and help to the miserable and afflicted. This is the long-haul person who stays by someone’s side for the duration of whatever they’re going through.

In describing how God grants spiritual gifts, Paul compares followers of Christ to a physical body made up of different parts that all need to function in their given purpose in order for the body to operate effectively. If we were made up of all big toes, we’d be in trouble! The same goes for spiritual gifts. If all believers were strong in exactly the same spiritual gifts, the body could not do its job. Therefore, by God’s perfect design, some of us are stronger in certain gifts than others.

While this passage explains why we are legitimately the way we are, God is showing me I cannot use my weaknesses as an excuse to ignore scriptures that require a gift I don’t have.

Like mercy.

I think God may be rewiring something in me, though, as scriptures about justice and mercy begin to register with my heart and not just my head. I know I’ve read them before, but now, the eyes of my understanding seem to be cracking open. Conviction urges me to do something different. Something scriptural. Something obedient.

I’m seeing that mercy is more than just meeting a physical need. It’s showing kindness. It’s hurting when others hurt; grieving when they grieve. It’s coming alongside them and staying by their side until they have healing or breakthrough. It’s time. It’s investing emotions. It’s allowing my heart to be broken for another’s suffering. It’s being moved to a place where I’m willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable for the benefit of someone else.

God is piercing me with His word, speaking directly to my heart:

Be a doer of the word, Shauna, not a hearer only, deceiving yourself.
(James 1:22, emphasis added)

If I am hearing and not doing, it’s because I’m deceiving myself. If I’m hearing what God has to say about showing kindness through sacrifice to those who are miserable and in need, and I’m not doing it because I’m too busy doing everything else I’m better gifted to do, I’m deceiving myself.

There’s more to generosity than money and things. Money meets a need, but it takes a person to show God’s love. To be Jesus to another.

Sometimes I’m so busy checking off all we’re doing right that I turn a blind eye to what we’re not doing at all. Or I justify what we’re not doing by focusing on what we are.

Either way, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). As a friend I dearly love always says, “Slow obedience is no obedience.” I would add, “Consolation obedience is no obedience.”

There’s no substitute for giving God exactly what He asks in His word.

Shine Your light into our hearts, Lord. Elevate what’s important to You to a place of priority in us, that regardless of our strengths and gifts, we would all make a way to feed the hungry, give drinks to the thirsty, take in strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned (Matthew 25:35-40), and look after orphans and widows (James 1:27) as we become more wholly Yours, using the time and resources You give us to Your glory.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Injustice of Preference

Asked if I’d be participating in my church’s summer Bible study about excess, I always smiled and answered, “No.” Ignorance is bliss, and if I’m totally honest, I had no desire to be convicted in most of the areas the study covers. Then one Sunday I picked up the book for a closer look, and I knew: I couldn’t cling to ignorance as a way to avoid conviction.

I dreaded the ugly truths God would expose, and at the same time, I longed for the freedom, peace, and joy that come after conviction and repentance.

So I dove in, and within the first few pages, I was mad. Offended. Isn’t that what the Word sometimes does? Offends, because we’d rather not admit the darkness in our own hearts. The self-centeredness. The greed.

But something pushed me forward.

We looked at James 2:1-13. For days several verses pierced my soul and spirit and discerned the thoughts and intents of my heart (Hebrews 4:12). They kept circulating through my mind, winding their way to my heart: Conviction. 

It’s about giving preference to what the world esteems rather than loving everyone with mercy regardless of their wealth or position, especially the less fortunate, the way Jesus’ unconditionally loves and shows us mercy.

The passage begins, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (verse 1, KJV). The Greek root for respect of persons is prosōpolēmpsia, which means partiality or “the fault of one who when called on to give judgment has respect of the outward circumstances of man and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these qualities” (

Faith in Christ and prejudice cannot co-exist. Jesus alone is to be revered among others. We cannot place our faith in Jesus and then value or judge others based on their status in society, high or low, or any other outward circumstance. Conversely, we cannot place our faith in Jesus and then prize beauty, prominence, and possessions in order to be admired.

But don’t we?

Aren’t we all to a certain degree guilty of prosōpolēmpsia ? Don’t we make decisions about a person’s insides based on their outsides? In a split second, we judge their success in life, their character, and maybe even how well they obey God by what they do or have. We decide whether they’re good parents or bad by how their kids look and act. We determine whether or not we think they’re truly saved. And we pursue them accordingly.

“Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (verse 4).

We not only judge others with evil thoughts, forming opinions of worth based on what we see on their outsides, but don’t we also judge what we put our time and resources toward with evil thoughts in order to draw the partiality of others based on what’s on what others can see of us?

Preferring the things that improve our outward circumstances over the things that improve our inward merit or others’ circumstances? Shopping rather than sacrificing for others. Wearing the right things rather than clothing the poor. Eating at nice restaurants rather than feeding the needy. Enjoying hobbies rather than serving. Working to get ahead rather than working with others so they can get ahead. Isn’t that partiality with our time and resources?

What we cherish we will pursue with priority.


“If you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (verse 9).

To judge someone’s outsides without respect for their insides is sin. To judge the condition of their hearts based on the appropriateness of their dress, or piercings, or tattoos, or where they hang out, or what they do for a living, or who their friends are, or the things that ensnarl them, or how their kids act and dress is sin.

“Speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (verse 12). The law of love. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

We can tell a tree by its fruit, and we can call sin what it is, we just don’t get to judge the sinner. Quite the opposite, we are to love them as Christ loved us. Sacrificially and unconditionally. Even if we don’t agree with them, or how they act, or how they dress, or how they parent.

We can still shop, have and wear nice things, eat out, vacation, work hard, and enjoy hobbies, but not to the injustice of others. Not for prosōpolēmpsia.

My partiality is as equal a transgression as what I judge to be someone else's inexcusable offense (verses 10-11).

Nowhere does the law of liberty say judge thy neighbor.

“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (verse 13).

To show mercy is always better than judgment.

Lord, I am guilty of judging with evil thoughts. Please forgive me.

Are you guilty too? Pray with me:

Lord, search us and know our hearts, try us and know our anxieties; see if there is any wicked way in us and lead us in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24) as we become more wholly Yours today.
Shauna Wallace

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Free Nation in a Free Fall

Today, we celebrate the independence of our nation. 

Today, I am reminded of our dependence on Jesus. 

He alone can truly set us free. 

He alone can save.

He alone can change a man's heart.

A nation's heart.

He alone can end abortion.

He alone can preserve marriage between a man and a woman.

He alone can restore the value of life at all stages.

The battle is His; we are His foot soldiers.

Here to do as He commands.

Here to love as He loves.

Here to stand in the gap.

Will we obey?

Will we pray without ceasing?

Will we cooperate with Him as He interrupts and inconveniences us?

Will we stand? 

One nation, under God.

How about just His people, under His authority, submitting to His will?




God's word is woven through the fabric of this nation's founding documents, yet we seem to be a nation at war with everything for which He stands. 

Where once this nation was guided by biblical principals and a belief that freedom can only thrive where morality is established by Christianity, Christianity appears to be the only belief that will not be tolerated. 

Historically, a nation that turns its back on God in pursuit of freedom from moral obligations is a nation that falls. 

This is a free nation. But are we using that freedom to fail?

Lord, turn up the heat in our hearts that Your light would shine brighter in an ever dark world. Do whatever it takes to draw unto You a people wholly Yours.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His