13 Reasons Why I Hate 13 Reasons Why

I hope you never watch the show. I managed a whole 10 minutes before I shut it off and wish I hadn't wasted the time.

Here are 13 reasons why I hate 13 reasons why so much:

#1 Because of my Pediatric ER on any given night

Let me start by saying that I know a little bit about this topic. As a Pediatric ER doctor, I know teenage suicide firsthand. A typical night in the ER for me includes no less than 1 and regularly up to 6 teenage depression and suicidal evaluations. The age is getting younger and younger. The methods of attempts more and more convoluted. I'm the one looking at teens in the eyes with scars on their necks from hanging attempts and I'm the one trying to explain to parents what in the world just happened. So please keep reading.

#2 Because Teenage Suicide is real - not fiction

This year 5000 young people ages 15-24 will die by suicide. Every minute, a teen makes an attempt serious enough to require medical attention. Millions more think about it seriously enough to have a plan. Odds are you know someone ages 10-18 who is struggling with depression, suicidal ideation, cutting, or anxiety.  I should know. I take care of them daily.

#3 Because You Don't Gain Justice by Killing Yourself

Even the hint of the idea that a human gains any sort of justice by committing suicide should be horrific enough to make us stop. The truth is that most truly depressed teenagers can't think straight enough to devise any sort of letter scheme or plan to explain their actions. Their brains are hurting and death will not cure their pain.

#4 Because of the Effect the show has Had on Teenage Suicide

I'm told that since 13 reasons why was released on Netflix, the number of teenagers being seen in hospitals for suicidal thoughts and attempt has more than doubled. While you might think that there has been an increase in awareness of the issue, the sad reality is that the real reason that the numbers are increasing are much more sobering.

#5 Because the show glamorizes suicide

Yeah. Sadly, the show glamorizes suicide to such a degree that many who might never have considered it now do. I have seen this pattern over and over again in the ER. Teens come into the ER and ask to be admitted to the mental health hospital because of the sense of community and friendship they have found there. There is now an even darker bond achieved by a suicidal lifestyle that should scare us all.

#6 Because Suicide should never be Depicted as even an Option

It's not even an option. It shouldn't even be on the table. The truth is that a show about suicide puts suicide on the table - for everyone. This is tragic and heartbreaking. Netflix should be ashamed.

#7 Because of the Darkness it brings to people who need Light

Where there is darkness there must be light. To present a darkness while glossing over the light is harmful and evil. If there can be a redemptive option out of this dark show, it is in waking us Christians up and prodding us to be the light. Our world has never been darker. Let's shine for Jesus now. Let's shine right where we are. No more fear. Speak up. Love everyone. Be the light you are called to be.

#8 Because of the missing element of Hope

Even more than light is the need for hope. Hope is the belief that change is possible. For every person reading this post who feels the weight of despair, for every soul wondering if there could be a better day, and a freer way, the answer is a resounding YES!! Jesus loves you. He died for you. He is waiting to give you life with beauty and hope. Every scar on your arms, every tear shed, every hurt you've endured HE will redeem and use for good. Don't give up. There is a better way. Hope is alive. Change is possible.

#9 Because of the lie that makes it seem as if death is not final

If there's one common thread in the show, it's that even after suicide, the star of the show still speaks. While that might sound good, ask anyone who's lost someone to anything - death is final and suicide even more so in its method and pain. My mother's brother committed suicide when he was in college. I learned his name, but nothing else about him in my 45 years on this earth. Death, you see, particularly in suicide, is silent. Painfully silent.

#10 Because of the real lack of resources to deal with the avalanche of need

Have you ever tried to seek medical help for someone with mental health problems? To say it's hard is an understatement. On a typical busy ER night, we start off with 2 social workers to do mental health evaluations and after 7pm we lose one. On any given night we could have 10 patients in the ER waiting for 1 social worker to get them the help that they need. This is real life. If a show claims to help increase awareness of the issue of teenage suicide, let me ask you the next obvious question: who is working on getting more resources into the health care sector to deal with the need? Again, I call upon the church to rise up. Counselors, get training in adolescent depression and suicide and start speaking the truth. You are called for such a time as this.

#11 Because of the missing voice of truth to the show

If it sounds redundant it's not been said enough. There is truth. There is light in this world. There is a better way to live. There is healing to be had. A show that focuses on the problem without offering truth is evil. If you're reading this post and have a voice, speak up. Shout the truth from the mountaintops. If you don't, surely the rocks will do it.

#12 Because of the deepening divide it creates between teen and parent 

While many have written about the need for parents to watch the show with their kids, the reality is that like any other netflix series, watching this show is private and isolated. Some lucky parents might be privy to open discussions on this topic, but for the truly hurting, this is a luxury they are unfamiliar with. In my opinion, this show simply widens the huge schism between parent and teen that was created the day the smartphone was dropped and continues to deepen its trenches in families everywhere.

#13 Because it is deceptive and destructive 

I'm not the only one who thinks like this. I read a great article called "13 reasons why is deceptive and destructive" over at TGC. Don't be fooled, Christians. This show is real, and it's deceptive and destructive. Odds are your kid knows all about it and already has an opinion on it. So turn your phones off, make dinner for the family tonight, and sit down with your kids and talk to them. Look them in the eyes and ask good questions. You'll be glad you did.

For years I've wondered when anyone will start paying attention to the horrific rising epidemic of teenage depression and suicide. If we're paying attention now (potentially one small benefit of the show), let's no longer just listen. Let's do something about it.

If you're reading this post and are struggling with thoughts of suicide, email me here. If you're a parent and need prayer or direction, email me here too.

And here's also a further resource for you:

Fearless podcast image copy

What will awaken the American Church?

Nothing will awaken us to the state of the American Church like spending a week with Christians on the other side of the world.

I met a Lebanese man named Adel last week. I'd met him before and he hadn't made much of an impression on me.

He seemed uneducated but kind.

He had brought me coffee in the afternoons on previous trips to the Middle East, but he'd never been much of a conversationalist.

But last week, he became our designated driver. I ended up seeing a whole lot more of him than I'd ever planned on.

He still seemed rough around the edges and not so young in age, his wife about 20 years younger and full of energy. I inevitably heard snippets of his story. He'd lost his first wife to illness, then at 55 he met a woman who introduced him to Jesus. He ended up marrying her.

It didn't take long for her to figure out that he didn't know how to read.

Desperate to read the Bible, he asked her to teach him how to read and she did. 

In the last 10 years the Bible has become the only book Adel reads.

He doesn't read bestsellers and doesn't have a favorite Christian author.

He doesn't follow Twitter or Instagram.

He doesn't have a blog or a website.

But he reads God's word every moment that he can.

On the way to the airpot, I learned another little secret that my friend Adel had kept.

In the last 10 years since learning to read, Adel has committed not just verses and chapters of the Bible to memory, but entire books - like James, and the Peters, and Mark and Job, and Hebrews and on and on.

I asked him why.  I asked him how.

He was baffled by my questions. "I can't get enough of it," he said. "I fall asleep listening to it, and wake up thinking about it. It is my life. It is my joy. It is everything."

You will likely never meet Adel on this side of heaven. You will never read anything he's written, and you might never even notice him.

Yet on an average day in Lebanon, a 65 year old man who couldn't read until he was 55 is striving towards holiness, seeking after God, and has found intimacy and peace such as many of us here in the western world will never know.

While we in western Christianity argue about homosexuality in the Church and whether females should blog and teach the Bible, our brothers and sisters in Christ overseas are actually living the Christian life.

They have forsaken all and are following hard after Jesus.

They have counted the cost and have jumped all in.

Instead of worshipping their pastors, they respect their pastors and worship the Lord.

Instead of striving for riches, they give away what they have for the glory of God.

Instead of ranking their favorite Christian authors, they make lists of passages in the Bible they still long to memorize.

In a country where you might expect opposition and resistance to the gospel, the very opposite is happening. 

We went to the ice cream store for dessert and ended up leading the owner of the store to Jesus.

My friend Tamar took a cab ride home after a week of serving the refugees and ended up leading the cab driver to Jesus.

We took care of people displaced from their homes having lost everything and saw in their eyes a hunger for Jesus.

In a world where material comfort is wanting and rare, and where pain abounds and personal loss rules the day, people have awakened to their true need.

They are searching for Jesus.

Yet here we are in our comfortable American houses striving after more - more money, more fame, more followers, more success, more book deals. More of everything.

We argue the merits of a new health care plan forgetting that we serve a God who heals. If only we spent as much time praying for healing as we do complaining about healers.

We argue the rights of illegal immigrants all the while neglecting to point them to the true source of freedom and riches in this life.

We argue with each other about everything while the watching world smirks at us underwhelmed by this message of love we claim has saved us.

We justify our sins instead of forsaking them.

We defend our rights instead of yielding them.

We fight, fight, fight, never satisfied, always striving for more.

Yet in a world where islam has ruled the day, an awakening is happening, a movement of God's spirit turning people's hearts to Jesus.

They're doing it not because of someone's book or tweet, but because in quiet desperation people have quit talking about God and started talking to God.

Help us, they've prayed.

Show us, they've begged.

And He has. He most powerfully has.

What if we too stopped for a minute and did the same?

What if we quit chasing after our own comfort and our own version of an American dream and started running after Jesus?

What if we asked the Spirit of God to move our hearts deeply towards him, changing us, reviving us, uniting us?

What if we made it our life goal to know God and His word like my friend Adel has?

I'm learning that nothing will awaken us to our desperate need for God like our pain.

Help us, we can pray.

Show us, we can ask.

Awaken us, we can plead.

And He will. He most powerfully will.


How to be a Christian Speaker

More than any other question I get asked is this one:

"How do I become a Christian speaker?"

While the question is meant to be flattering at first, it's come up enough to beg an answer. But perhaps I should start with the obvious:

Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as a "Christian speaker".

Ironically I'm coming off a month of what most would consider successful Christian service, peaking with an amazing God inspiring conference in Oklahoma where many lives were impacted and eternally changed.

Yet this morning I was brought back to reality by my favorite Christian author Oswald Chambers, who doesn't mince words and said this in "My Utmost for His Highest":

"The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go "outside the camp, bearing His reproach". In Luke 10:20 Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view - we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God's grace has laid the foundation....One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit."

One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit.

Let the one who has ears hear.

God calls us not to be Christian speakers but to be fully devoted to Him. He gives us spiritual gifts and calls us to exercise them according to His leading and choosing.

Do you want to be a Christian speaker? Become fully devoted to God.

Do you want to be a Christian speaker? Become aware of your spiritual gifts.

Do you want to be a Christian speaker? Do what you can where you can with what you have.

Learn to fight for a close and unhindered intimate relationship with God believing that the depth of your vertical relationship will always determine the breadth of your impact and service.

What that means is that you must make pursuing God your first and foremost priority - before networking, before strategy, before blog building, before platform developing, before service in your church, before any other thing.

Make pursuing God the one thing you desire and seek. Give it your time and your attention and your focus and your vision. Fix your eyes on Jesus until you really fix your eyes on Jesus.

Then get used to the valleys. Between mountain top experiences are the deep and arduous valleys. That's where the mettle is made. To give you an idea of what I think of this process I wrote a book called "Stripped" to define it. You will literally feel stripped in the valley of becoming what you are meant to become.

And that is a good thing.

Get used to the valleys and let God use them to make you. You will learn that brokenness is the way. Weakness is where you will learn His strength. Surrender is non negotiable.

Do you want to be a Christian speaker? Don't rush the time in the valley. Don't manipulate to get out of it. Don't breathe a sigh of relief if you find a short cut.

There is no short cut to your calling.

And above all stop looking at everyone else's mountain top experiences. It's easy to lose perspective in the valley but remember that your perspective in the valley is limited. When you see someone else's mountain top experience, remember that they've been in the valley too and more likely will head there again soon.

Mountain tops and valleys.

And that is a good thing.

Don't despise the day of small beginnings.

Small beginnings give you time to learn, to grow, to develop your voice. Small beginnings shape who you are and give you space to make mistakes without the scorn of the crowd.

Above all don't quit. Don't ever ever ever quit.

Find God's promises and make them the broad ground you stand on. Hang on to them and live in them. Breathe them. Trust the One who gave them. Love Him with all of your heart and commit your way to Him resting on these words of His, words He cannot but fulfill.

Finally, never ever underestimate the power of prayer. It is in your prayer closet that you will shed tears and wrestle with doubt and confess disappointment and admit despair and then it is in the prayer closet that you will slowly but surely feel the everlasting arms beneath you.

Slowly but surely, it is in the prayer closet that a shift happens in your heart. You start to actually believe that God is good. That His plan is best.  That He knows the way and that His timing is best.

The problem is that most people who ask the question "how do I become a Christian speaker" never stop long enough to pray. They're too busy making a dream come true, a dream that will never satisfy and never deliver.

Because you see, it is only when you quiet down enough to make it to the prayer closet that you finally understand:

There is no such thing as a Christian speaker.

It's all just a mirage.

The truth is far better: we are followers of Jesus Christ shouting out His name and declaring His praise from the mountain tops - sometimes loudly, but most days unnoticed, or perhaps heard only by a few.

A few that we don't think matter at all - our neighbors, our kids, our nephews and nieces, our co-workers, our people - but the few who might ultimately change the world, if we only understood the truth about what it means to be a Christian speaker.

And that, my friend, is a very very good thing.


How the resurrection changes everything

A few months ago I was in the ER when we got a call about a 5 year old girl who was found face down in a pond of water.

As the story unfolded, we learned that this autistic girl was playing on her iPad and strolled out of the house, not paying attention, and eventually walked into a freezing pond where she was eventually found face down.

We tried desperately to resuscitate her. It soon became evident that she wasn't going to make it.

Her family had shown up by now, and it was a bad scene all around.

Despite the loud groaning it didn't take long for me to pick up on the fact that the family was praying.

In the chaos around me I was reminded that I was a Christian too.

I believed in miracles.

I believed in prayer.

I put my hand on the child and prayed as sincerely as I could: "God, please raise this child from the dead. Restore her life where it seems gone."

Nothing happened.

The child's heart had stopped.

A few seconds later, I called the code.

Time of death, 3:36pm.

Two years ago my father died after a tough battle with kidney failure.

His death wasn't a surprise but it was just as unwelcome.

Suppose you had run into me the week after his death and I told you that I had just seen him and had dinner with him.

You'd have thought that I was crazy or deluded with grief.

Then if ten other people told you the same story  you'd have thought us all crazy.

And rightly so.

As hard as it is to swallow, death is so final. 

Except for the one time that it wasn't.

Two thousand years ago, a man named Jesus was crucified on a cross.

Because he had claimed to be the Savior of the world and promised to rise again from the dead, the Roman government made sure his tomb was sealed and guards kept watch at the place of his burial.

Yet three days later, His body went missing.

Pretty soon a handful of people claimed that they had seen this man who had been crucified.

They claimed he had risen from the dead.


One might think so  except that pretty soon a few hundred more people were saying the same thing.

Most of us today would call this a cult.  A bunch of loonies. Hashtag wacky.

Today we call it Christianity. 

And because of this resurrection a family burdened with grief thinks to pray to a God who might heal their dead.

And because of this resurrection I can stand by my father's grave hopeful that this is not the end.

Yeah, the resurrection changes everything.

It is the cornerstone of Christianity and without it we have nothing.

The apostle Paul used to murder Christians before he too saw the resurrected Christ and eventually penned these words in 1 Corinthians 15.17-20:

"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."

But in fact.

Because of the resurrection anything is possible.

Because of the resurrection hope is alive.

Prayers can be answered.

Change is possible.

Are you holding a sick child, wondering what might happen to him?

Are you sitting at the bedside of your ailing parent afraid of the future?

Are you burdened by the cares of your own life? Are you stuck in a cycle of hopelessness?

Turn your eyes to the cross.

Follow the blood stained road.

Look inside the tomb.

You'll find it empty.

Jesus is alive.

Anything is possible.

And here's a featured video from Simply Jesus Gathering: Hope With Jesus. 

[vimeo 141123616 w=640 h=360]

A brief and riveting personal update

I can't decide if I should tell you about my new Amazon Fire stick today, and the ethical dilemma it poses, or if I should gloss over that and simply update you on what's on my burners.

This April there's nothing on my back burners. Everything is front and center.

This is also my Birthday month which means I'm getting older again, which means I don't have as long to live relatively speaking, which means I need to get on the ball and stop being so lazy.

Anyone who knows me is rolling their eyes right now.

But honestly, this is just a typical day in the life of a single Christian. We might look like we're being very productive but it's just because we're not spending time arguing with spouses or doing monkey business, and we're not wiping snotty noses and folding laundry.

That saves us at least 18 hours in a day.

But we do Netflix, so take away 14 of those saved hours and it still leaves us 4 hours ahead of y'all married folks.

Anyway, as I was saying, this is a busy month.

I'm working on two new projects this month that I CANNOT WAIT to tell you about and this is not just me hyping it up. I'm totally serious. You're gonna love what I'm putting together for you. Straight up.

This month I'm also going to Oklahoma. This is a thing. I mean, if you've never been to Oklahoma, baby you ain't livin' yet. I'm already making room for fried pies and well, fried pie.

I'll be speaking at the BGCO again this year, but get this - someone made a typo in the program and has me on the main stage. Yeah, baby. I'm gonna be flying high in OKC. If you're planning on being there, don't say you weren't warned. And if you're worried you're missing out, you better believe you are.

I'll also be rounding up the local colleges this month - Judson next week and Moody Grad Chapel the following week. Eat your hearts out millennials everywhere. We're taking this thing down.

Lastly, I'm headed to Lebanon at the end of the month despite the president's electronic device ban for middle east flights. Not gonna lie, I thought about backing out when I got wind of this nonsense, but my soft heart got the best of me. There are refugees to care for and nothing's gonna stop me now.

Seriously, though, we're hosting our next Medical and Dental trip to care for Syrian refugees and turns out we still have room for more donations. It's the craziest thing, but the giving has been below our expectations. No pressure, but if you like Syrian refugees this is the time to show it.


Just kidding.

I mean, not really...but...sort of.

Anyway, I'm also hosting an Arabic Bible Conference in Lebanon for singles again this year - on my birthday. Yup. This is how truly amazing I am. I can't get my friends to celebrate my birthday with me so I now host conferences to make sure someone does.

On a high note, my Bible is falling apart which according to Spurgeon means I'm not. Some of you might have been concerned about me after my touchy feely blog last week (read here) which is why I figured I needed to balance the touchy feely side of Lina with this other half that many of you know and love. Alas, we are both one and the same.

So. With that in mind, I was totally serious about you donating to the Leb work. Here's the link to make it easier for you. If you don't give I promise to....well, I promise nothing.

I love you just the way you are.

And don't ask me about the Firestick cause I'm not tellin. Ever.



PS if you're massively disappointed about the lack of spiritual emphasis on the blog this week, here's a post from the archives, and a free chapter of my book Thrive, and a verse I've been meditating on: 2 Corinthians 4:7 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us", and just to make sure you remain a satisfied customer, here's a link for a podcast that will surely rev you up. 

Featured Resource
Expectations from God_Podcast

For Those Who are Weary in Waiting

Weariness creeps up on us unawares - sort of like the flu.

One minute we're fine, the next we feel like death swarmed over us.

I finished speaking at a singles event last week when a woman with kind eyes came up to me. "I loved your message", she said, "I'm still waiting on the Lord", then her eyes filled with tears as she continued, "But I'm weary in the waiting."

Weary in the waiting.

I knew exactly what she meant.

Lately it feels like the waiting just won't stop. No matter how hard I pray, I'm still waiting. No matter how smoothly I try to negotiate my situation with God, it's like He's not listening.

I get weary in the waiting. I don't start off weary, but somewhere along the line the weariness creeps in. And it won't leave me alone, no matter how many psychological techniques I try. Every step feels like a ton of bricks. Every prayer feels unanswered. God's presence feels far.

You know the gig.

We're not alone in our weariness. A few of the greats felt it too.

Abraham was weary in the waiting - and took matters into his own hands. The result was strife in his home.

Moses was weary in the waiting and ended up spending 40 years in the wilderness for it.

Saul was weary in the waiting and his impulsiveness lost him the kingdom.

The list is long. I bet you could make your own.

Weariness in the waiting is common but not fatal if treated rightly.

Consider David.

At first, he looked unstoppable. After killing a lion and a bear with his bear hands, he went up against Goliath and won. A total Gonzaga if you ask me.

The guy just couldn't lose for the life of him - until he started losing.

And just like the flu, one day he looked like God's favored child, the next he was hiding in caves on the edge of despair: he'd come down with a case of the waiting.

And all his dreams looked unfulfilled.

And all his hopes were deferred.

All God's favor seemed lost.

But it wasn't.

David's dreams did get fulfilled. God's favor was still alive and active in David's life. David's future was secure.

Are you weary in the waiting?  Do what David did. In 1 Samuel 30:6, David strengthened himself in the Lord.

If you're weary in the waiting, strengthen yourself in the Lord.

You do that by spending time with the Lord, not running from him.

You do that by letting go, not trying harder.

You do that by resting in the Lord, not just wrestling with Him.

Are you weary in the waiting?

Open up the Psalms and read them. Think how weary David was as he wrote the words to the Psalms.

Are you weary in the waiting?

Use your words to sing praise to God. Most of what we say when we're weary we don't even really believe. Focus your energy simply on praise.

Are you weary in the waiting?

Ask God to help you endure.

I've come to the conclusion that I am utterly unable to rev up enough hope on my own to overcome my weariness in the waiting.

I am totally and completely dependent on God to renew my strength in the waiting.

All I can do is humbly come to him and ask.

Are you weary in the waiting?

Run to your Father of mercies, this God of all comfort who will comfort you in your affliction. Share in Christ's suffering. Remember our God who raises the dead. Stand fast in hope that's unshaken.

God will deliver you yet again.

Are you weary in the waiting?

You're not alone.

The great revivalist R A Torrey once said "I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray."

Are you weary in the waiting?

Pray. Pray. Pray.

And just like the flu, one day you feel like death has swarmed over you, and then the next, just like that, it's gone. 

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life" Proverbs 13:12

Featured Resource
Faith when stuck_Podcast

Are You Looking for a Safe and Comfortable Life?

I was invited to go on Moody Radio last week to participate in Share 2017.

Frankly, I was dreading it.

See, this year, I'd decided that I wouldn't give. I even wrote it down in my journal. And nothing was going to change that.

It's not that I have anything against giving. I'm all about giving - especially when it's in favor of my stuff.  But this year, "my stuff" had been suffering.

This year I'd noticed a huge drop in the giving towards my own ministry and medical work with Syrian refugees. What I'm really trying to say but am almost embarrassed to confess is that since January 2017 I'd seen less than $500 come into our entire donation fund.

And I was hating it.

Why had God allowed our well to go so dry?

I'd done more than my share to raise awareness of our work and non profit status: social media blasts, an awesome video summary of our work in Lebanon, prayer, faith, hope. I'd done it all and still...nothing.

Why would God hold back from me in a work that seemed to be so Him?

After hashing it out with God, I'd resolved to stop giving towards "other" ministries and start giving towards my own stuff. I would just re-allocate resources away from one thing towards my thing. If God wouldn't raise up a village to help support my thing, I concluded, I might as well start building my village myself.

My decision felt safe and I was 100% behind it.

When I got to Moody I was ready. I took my seat across from Karl and June and I started talking.

I talked about how God honors those who give.

I talked about the joy of giving.

I talked about how to overcome the fear of giving and how giving is our tangible expression to tell God how much we love him.

True story. 

And the more I talked the worst I felt.

I was a hypocrite - and beneath my veneer of religiosity was a raging spiritual battle.

Did I believe God and His word, or did I trust me more?

Was I willing to come to God on His terms, even if those terms were far different than mine? Or was I trying to manipulate God into my own terms?

Did I really worship God, or had I simply reverted to using God to make my things happen?

Here I was on air with a choice to make: would I succumb to my fears or would I dive into the waiting arms of Jesus?

By God's grace I did the only thing I could do.

I jumped.

To the average listener tuning in that morning the spontaneous challenge I gave to match every $1000 with a thousand of my own might have sounded like the whim of a rich doctor with extra money to throw around because I had it.

The average listener would have been dead wrong.

To the Holy Spirit of God the truth was a bit more obvious. I had looked at my own despicable heart and dismal circumstances and chosen to believe - even at great risk for myself and my dreams.

In Luke 9:24 Jesus says "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

The stunning truth of Christ's words is this: that the greatest antidote to protecting ourselves from danger is not in increasing our safety and comfort. The greatest antidote to protecting ourselves from danger is to give it all to Jesus.

Even when it doesn't make sense.

Even when you don't see the answer right away.

Ironically, in the last week since my radio challenge, I haven't received any big checks in the mail. In fact, God has seen fit to  invite me to join him on a couple more of His unexpected endeavors. It ain't cheap to follow Jesus! 

But I've noticed that each time I say yes it gets easier.

And each time I say yes His presence gets sweeter. 

I think a part of us secretly hopes that if we give God everything that He'll somehow see the great sacrifice we've made and will show his appreciation to us with a small return - preferably financial but other forms of blessings will do too.

As if.

The truth is far better.

The truth is that the only way to safety is through surrender. Let it go - your expectations, your discontent, your fear. The cure to your aching heart is not in building higher walls of self protection but in giving everything to Jesus.

Are you struggling with your fear? Are you holding on to your unmet expectations? Are you wondering where God is?

Are you looking for a safe and comfortable life?

Perhaps it's time to surrender.

Free Falling PNG-2GET MY

This 40 DAY DEVOTIONAL will encourage you to free fall over the edge of safe living into the welcoming arms of Jesus Christ.

What you can do about the Syrian refugee crisis

Does your brain ever go numb because of the size of the problem you're facing?

Mine does.

And when it does, I'm tempted to mentally check out - to catch up on my ever growing Netflix queue instead since that is a massive problem I know I can manage.

Right now on the other side of the world is the ongoing and mind numbing problem of the Syrian refugee crisis.

And the more I think about it, the dumber I feel.

A few days ago I found myself at a gathering of leaders and pastors from the Middle East. These are some of the key players doing the work of evangelist/relief worker/discipler and all that goes along with finding yourself as the recipient of an unexpected humanitarian crisis of mammoth proportion without any advance notice. How dare they just show up unannounced?

What's even more astounding is this:

While Lebanon has welcomed over 1 million refugee, it is home to only about 100 evangelical churches. Yeah, I said one hundred. As in 100.

And while Jordan has close to 2 million refugees, it boasts just 55 evangelical churches. Yes. Fifty five.

Then there's Turkey. A quick google search on Turkey shows that only 0.008% of people in Turkey are considered evangelical while close to 3 million refugees now call Turkey home.

While evangelicals are certainly not the only people helping refugees, I want to focus on evangelicals here because I am one.

And when it comes to helping people in need, evangelical Bible believing Christ followers ought to have the market on this.

Helping people in need and pointing them to Jesus is our calling - every single one of us.

And pastors and leaders in the Middle East recognize it. They have set aside politics for the sake of love. They have refused to settle for other priorities. They have allowed God to interrupt their agendas for the sake of His kingdom.

As a result, they are seeing God do mammoth things in their communities. They are seeing people who have never heard of Jesus come to know and love Him. They are seeing miracles beyond my capacity to describe. They are living first hand stories that they can't even talk about for safety purposes. In fact, many of them are doing this work in secret for safety reasons, risking their lives daily.

Yet they have refused to settle for fear.

What's more amazing is that these church leaders have been at it for over 5 years. They are swimming upstream at a pace so fast it's a surprise they're still going strong.

I believe they need our help. 

I'm not talking about American politics here or partisan practices and what the US should do in the face of the refugee crisis here.

I'm talking about the Church.

I'm talking about you.

I'm talking about us seeing with fresh eyes.

I'm talking about us awakening to the biggest opportunity of our lifetime:

Muslims are coming to Jesus in droves. They are running to him. They are begging us to tell them about Jesus. God's kingdom is advancing at a mind boggling pace and most of us are missing it for American Idol.

There are 150 evangelical churches in the 3 countries with the most Syrian refugees. If I had to guess I'd say there are at least 150 evangelical churches in my city of Chicago if not 150 satellite campuses of one single megachurch in my town.

If you are a follower of Jesus and care about the lost, this isn't just an issue du jour. This is the opportunity of our lifetime.

If you have prayed to be used by God in any shape or form, if you long to see God do miracles such as He did back in the days of the early church, if you wonder where God is and why you don't see him anymore, you might just be looking in the wrong places. And it might be time to reframe your question.

Instead of asking what you want God to do in your life, you might want to start asking God what He wants you to do with yours.

A few days ago I met Ken, a retired Home Depot employee now working with a Christian ministry in Jordan and travels back and forth regularly from New Hampshire to do this.

Then there's Annie, the 22 year old college grad who moved to Lebanon to live with a Kurdish family and help disciple them.

And Anna, my friend Carl's daughter who moved to Beirut to make movies about the refugees. On her own. Just because.

The list goes on.

Many are heeding the call of the Spirit of God and saying yes, Lord, I'll do it. I'll go where you want me to go. I'll do what you want me to do.

They're choosing to put themselves smack dab in the middle of God's amazing story and they're loving every minute of it.

Look, this isn't meant to be a guilt trip.

I mean, I totally get it. You might not be able to pick up and move right now. I know I'm not ready yet. But have we stopped long enough to think about it?

Maybe it's time we pause and ask God what He wants us to do about the Syrian refugee crisis.

Maybe it's time we act.

We can start by fighting the temptation to switch the channel simply because we're overwhelmed.

We can start by refusing to go numb.

Of course here's a quick and easy way for you to act: become a monthly partner with us. Support our medical and dental work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Our next medical mission trip to the Middle East will take place April 28-May 6. Find out more about it all by clicking here.
Or you can just click here to Donate and as a 'thank you,'  you'll get my Free Falling Devotional - A 40 Day Journey Of Faith 
(oh, and feel free to share this article!).


Medical-Dental Trip (Jan 2017) from lina abujamra on Vimeo.

Beauty and the Beast's Gay Moment: What Should Christians Think?

What should we do when Hollywood produces movies we don't agree with?

We Christians tend to be a fickle bunch. We don't put our money where our mouths are and we're living to regret it. Let me explain.

We say we don't agree with a lot of things: like premarital sex and adultery and divorce and homosexuality. The list goes on. Yet for decades now we've bent the rules. We've ignored our own "should nots" and justified our decisions to pay big bucks to watch whatever sort of entertainment is thrown our way. Simply because we've wanted to. We've wanted to be entertained. We've wanted to be amused in a land of make believe even if that land goes against everything we say we believe.

Little by little, like the culture around us, we've become desensitized to sex on the big screen. We've become jaded about nudity. We've become amoral when it comes to our entertainment choices.

What used to shock us during prime time now makes the list of our favorite TV shows. What used to ruffle our feathers is now regular fodder for office chat.

When 50 shades of grey came out, many Christians spoke against it. Our sensibilities were offended. Yet in its opening 3 days, 50 shades gathered a nice $81.7 million in over 3000 locations. Then came Fifty Shades Darker, which didn't live up to its prequel in numbers, but still had an official trailer with 114 million views in the first 24 hours of its release online. That's huge. Were those clicks evangelical clicks? We'll never know for sure, but it seems to me that many might have been.

You might think I'm being dramatic, if not a little bit judgmental. You would never ever watch 50 shades of grey, after all. You have your limits. Yet you, like me, have stacked your Netflix queues with shows that you would never want your pastor to see.

Your pastor who according to Barca research has the same issues with his entertainment choices that you do. Most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) it turns out, admit they have struggled with porn, either currently or in the past with over 21 percent of youth pastors and 14 percent of pastors admitting they currently struggle with using porn.”

The struggle is real.  

Barna polls also show that 64 percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women admitted to viewing pornography at least once a month, compared to 65 percent of men and 30 percent of women who identified as non-Christian and said they watched porn at the same rate.

When it comes to our viewing habits, we who call ourselves christians are not that different from the rest of the world.

Enter LeFou and Gaston and the most recent Hollywood morality debate. 

What should we do when Hollywood produces movies we don't agree with?

To protest on the grounds of Biblical morality sounds ridiculous if not hypocritical. To say nothing sounds wimpy and "safe". But I wonder if we who call ourselves Christians are simply living out the repercussions of our own bad decisions. Perhaps we who call ourselves Christians should consider showing the world what we believe by simply putting our money where our hearts are.

Perhaps instead of pointing our fingers judgmentally at our non-believing friends and accusing them of offending our morals we should use our fingers to point to what we do stand for. One single dollar at a time.

Which might mean skipping a movie, or two, or even an entire Netflix subscription in order to teach our kids that what we value the most is not on a big screen. It's in the pages of a book called the Bible.

Perhaps it's finally time we switched the channel.

I wonder how big our impact could be if all of us who call ourselves Christians were willing to stand for what our God stands for. I mean really stand for it risking ridicule and not fitting in. I mean at the expense of our popularity and our cultural relevance. I mean at the expense of our own addictions and desires.

I wonder how big a dent we could make if we took our God seriously.

Which begs the question: where is your heart in this matter? Is it tethered to Hollywood, or is tethered to God and His word? 

Hey have you heard of Covenant Eyes? It's an internet accountability and filtering system. I'll be telling you more about it in weeks to come, but check it out here and get the first 30 days free! If you're serious about holiness, you'll want to do this! 

Here's a great resource on purity for you from the archives:


How to Influence People Deeply

There is something awesome that happens in my soul when someone prays for me.

My friend Bob calls to invite me to something.

He stops himself early in the conversation and asks what I should expect him to ask by now: "How can I pray for you, Lina?"

And then He does. He prays out loud for me.  He speaks to the God of the universe, the God who spoke this world into existence, the God who is able to move mountains on my behalf. Bob speaks to Him as a man speaks to his friend.

He prays for me and my soul is moved.

My friend Heidi texts me to remind me: "I'm praying for you right now."

Later in the week, she calls me, typically a day or so before my speaking engagements, and she prays for me. She prays that God would humble me, use me, and do whatever it takes to glorify His name. She prays for me in the waiting, she prays for me to become more like Jesus, she prays that I keep away from sin.

She prays for me and my soul is moved.

I run into Joy at church. This woman is a gift in God's family. With tears in her eyes she tells me she is praying for me. She chokes up when she says it, and I know she means it. She prays for my ministry. She prays for anointing. She prays for endurance.

She prays for me and I can feel the heavens move on my behalf.

She prays for me and my soul is stirred.

I can't comprehend this gift that God has given us. 

I'm not just talking about prayer.

I mean, we all get that prayer works. We don't need to be convinced of the importance of prayer. We understand it intellectually. We've felt God's peace and seen his answers when we finally settle down enough to pray. And most of us, if we're being honest would admit that prayer is the first thing to go in our over committed busy lives.

That we can pray is a gift underused and underestimated.

But I'm talking about an even bigger gift.

I'm talking about the gift of praying in community.

Jesus once said in Matthew 18:19-20 "if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

Are you lacking anything today?

Are you facing a mountain you can't overcome?

Are you worried, afraid, tired, weary, overcommitted or pressed down?

Or do you know someone who is?

You don't need a crowd.

You don't need a quorum.

You just need a friend, a moment, and the willingness to humbly step out in faith and ask.

Will you do it?

Will you call someone today and pray for them?

When you do that, I guarantee you, something awesome will happen deep in their souls. And perhaps even in yours.

Can't think of anyone to pray with? Shoot me an email with your phone number. I'd be honored to be that one. ([email protected])

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