Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2017 Aug 16
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1 :13-16
My pastor always tells us to be weird because normal simply isn’t working.
I don’t think of myself as weird. I don’t think of my kids as weird. I think of all of us as pretty normal.
And then I see normal people. Loud, verbal outbursts laced with profanity that border on domestic abuse. Obscenities used in every day circumstances. Anger and bitterness and unforgiveness oozing from the depths of their beings. Laughing at inappropriate jokes.
Or maybe it’s the entertainment. No discretion at what movies they watch. Minds filled with song lyrics that glorify anything but God. Or novels that allow you to lose yourself in someone else’s intimate moments, filling your mind with impure thoughts.
What about your own personal relationships? The way we date, jumping from love interest to love interest. Living with people of the opposite sex. Treating sex as if it’s something to be freely used instead of treasured as a special gift to be shared only between two people fully committed to one another.
When I open my eyes and look at my life, look at my children, I suddenly realize just how weird we are.
My fiancé and I have chosen to walk this path God’s way. It’s not easy, but we are committed to seeking God first, to living our lives in purity, to using our relationship for God’s glory. We pray together. We don’t spend the night with one another. We do everything we can to protect ourselves and to present ourselves holy and blameless before God and to one another.
And then I look at my kids. My boys are at the age where they are dating. My oldest has a precious girlfriend that he’s been with for over a year now. They are doing things right, walking in purity, treating one another as precious gifts from God. My younger son hasn’t found anyone special yet. He’s been out with a couple girls, but quickly decided he wouldn’t marry them. Yes, at 15, he broke off two relationships because he knew they weren’t forever relationships and he didn’t want to date just to date.
My sweet girl. Her heart is about loving God and loving others. She’s committed her life to ministry. Her heart is to lead others in worship for the rest of her life. She looks at the trials she has faced in this last year—losing her father and being diagnosed with epilepsy—and she simply responds that God must have big plans for her if he is allowing her to hurt this deeply. She has adopted the prayer, “Lord, do an amazing work in me so you can do an amazing work through me.”
Yes, I guess if I were an outsider looking in at my family, I would consider us weird. Totally weird. Out of this world weird.
And, if I’m honest, my kids have told me that we are one weird family. Maybe they are in the world more than I am, because they see and feel just how different we are.
But we are ok with it. More than ok. We prefer to live our lives as foreigners in this world, focused on the eternal rather than the temporal, relishing the peace that surpasses all understanding rather than absorbing the chaos around us. We will choose to remain weird because normal isn’t working.
So how did we become so weird? The same way you can.
Guard your heart.
What is in your heart? Is your heart filled with anger and unforgiveness? Is there a root of bitterness growing up within? If so, you need to allow God to do heart surgery.
I am firmly convinced that in and of ourselves, we can never fully forgive someone who has wronged us. But, God can allow His forgiveness to flow through us, to cleanse every ounce of anger and bitterness. He can cleanse every hidden part of your heart. He can fill your heart with purity, beauty, and all things good.
And then, we must protect our hearts from allowing the ugliness of this world to pollute us.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23
Guard your mind.
How do we protect our hearts? By guarding our minds. By filling our minds with those things that are lovely and noble and true and right. By saturating our minds with the Word of God.
Be assured that if our thought lives are out of whack, our lives will follow right along with it.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Guard your eyes.
Not only must we protect our hearts and our minds, but we must also be cautious what we see, the movies and television shows we watch, the entertainment that consumes our sights.
I pretty much trust my kids and their choice of entertainment. But occasionally, we have to stop and check ourselves. My oldest was going to a movie one day with a friend, and the friend’s mom called me. She asked if I had seen the reviews of the movie. I quickly pulled it up on my phone and was beyond shocked at the content. I simply showed the review to my son, and within the first few sentences he was finished. He knew it wasn’t what he wanted to spend his time watching.
What about you? Are you cautious about the movies and the TV shows you watch? Those visions are stored in your mind and are powerful sights that impact you and the way you live your life.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. Psalm 101:2-3
Guard your life.
One final exhortation in scripture is to flee every type of evil. Protect ourselves. Run away from anything that could possibly corrupt us. Don’t allow it come anywhere near us. Take drastic measures to avoid anything that could possibly soil us, drag us down and away from our purpose in this life.
Our lives are on the line.
…reject every kind of evil.1 Thessalonians 5:22
Live for One.
What is your focus? What is your priority? As we seek to guard our lives in every way, we must also have a single-minded devotion to the Lord. Don’t worry about this world, what others may think or say about us.
I am frequently criticized for my stance on divorce. It would be easy to allow the words to drag me down into the pits of despair, to let the shame and guilt of my past pull me away from the approval of my Father. Instead, I must often remind myself what my Father says about me, that I am loved, forgiven, chosen, and pure. I must live my life for the approval of One and no one else.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4
What about you? Are you weird? Are you living your life as a stranger and a foreigner in this world? I hope that we are beyond weird, and that our weirdness constantly points the world back to the beauty of walking with our Savior.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your love. Thank you that we are strangers in this world, that your life lived through us makes us different from the world around us. I pray we would be so focused on you, on protecting ourselves from this world, that we would be seen as weird. In Jesus name I pray, amen.