Dear Orange County Churches...

I am burdened. I am burdened with the weight of the call of James: pure and undefiled religion is this…take care of the orphan and widow. We cannot separate this call from the Christian life. Yes, you may say “I am called to youth ministry…” “I am called to lead worship…” But the truth is, no matter what you see your vocational and ministry goal as, if they are not wrapped around the two greatest commandments–to Love your God, love your neighbor–then they are carrying no use. 

It hit me for the first time when I drove by an Orange County church that used Mickey hands to direct their attendees where to park. All I can think about are the kids in India with no clean water and infested with lice. 

I see Orange County Christians with 1,2,3 spare rooms. And all I can think about are the 3,000 kids in the system being thrown around from home to home or stuck in a group home until their 18-because everyone is willing to send them a Bible at Christmas, but no one is willing to be called their mom or dad. 

…because they aren’t “called.”

I am burdened by churches that invest their tithes into new buildings, doing campaigns to renovate “God’s house,” when I know children who have spent months living in a car. I am burdened. 

And I don’t blame people, I don’t blame the church. The middle class needs Jesus just as well, if not more, than the children of Africa with no shoes, than the children of India with no clean water, than the children of Orange County with no family…but when I think of the amount of people I have seen flourish and thrive within the church for the sake of the church instead of the Kingdom, I shudder. 

This is not an issue of either-or, but of how-when.

I am struggling with pride. My heart feels as if it’s expanding each week with pride over my church, its cause, and its fearless efforts to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to make darkness flee our city. To have a pastor who believes in the things of the Father’s heart-to call his flock to stand in the trenches for the widow and orphan, and to never once water down the Gospel nor its cause, leaves me walking out in tears of gratitude week after week.

But there is a grief attached. There are churches in Orange County who are simply missing the mark. We don’t need to “win friends and influence people” we need to love Jesus and love people who are lacking. I am grieving the churches that refuse to respond to The Call, saying it’s not “Their Call.” I am burdened. I am grieving. I am proud. 

And I sit here, looking out at the beautiful haze resting outside my window. And in the garden I hear the sweetest squeals of laughter coming from my three boys. And I thank God everyday for the opportunity to stand in the trenches for them, to take the blows so they will never have to face them alone. Never once will I call it an easy ride. But worth it? Absolutely.

And I am no one special. I am extraordinary ordinary. I have gifts like you and flaws like you, too. And I if I can do this, anyone with the Spirit of God in them can. 

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you are not called. 

Just because it’s messy doesn’t mean it is not beautiful. 

Just because it’s not what you wanted doesn’t mean it’s not God’s doing. 

So, what will you do with this one crazy, beautiful, gift of a life you’ve been given?

As for me, I want to arrive in heaven beaten up and bloody, with dirt under my nails and wrinkles on my forehead, because if I fight the good fight, then those words will sound like water down my parched soul: Well done, my good and faithful servant…enter into the rest of your Master.