The call was made.  Today Indiana shut down all non essential business and instituted a stay at home mandate… and I’m totally ok with that.

 Typically, I don’t appreciate being told what to do.  Let me be clear, no one running a small business appreciates being told what to do.  It’s in our very nature to decide for ourselves what to do and how to do it.  It’s just what we do.   We are stubborn.  We are survivors.  We are deciders.  

For the last week, we have been doing just that.  Adapting, innovating, grinding, deciding…in a thousand different ways.  While those who work for others had the decision made for them over a week ago, those of us who work for ourselves have been in a constant state of weighing fear and measuring judgment.  We have been caught in the tug of war between the heavy responsibility of being ours or our employees only source of income and the constant barrage of information, often conflicting, calling us irresponsible for not responding to a threat we cannot see.

  We have been serving those who underreact, serving those who overreact, uncertain ourselves of how to react and sifting through both panic and apathy.

And the cleaning…seriously with the cleaning…My hands are a shriveled monument to the corrosive nature of bleach and I have become like a dystopian gypsy trader bartering for Lysol.

We are the non essential.  While we don’t keep you alive, we sure make life a whole lot better.  We are the ones who dreamt up the thing and then had the drive to go do the thing.  We are mistrustful of governments, skeptical of media, makers of our own reality, and we don’t carve out much time for fear based decisions…otherwise we never would have gotten here in the first place.

I like decisions.  I don’t mind making them.  One of my most endearing flaws is that I move to the order of, Fire! Aim! Ready!…it doesn’t always serve me well, but it does make me grateful for my business partners who tend to slow the trigger.

As we navigate our fledgling business, we work together, constantly reorienting, constantly deciding to move regardless of fear and circumstance.  But this week, we’re tired.  I think all business owners are tired. Tired of the grey direction of politics, tired of all the opinions, tired of talking about it, tired of updates, tired of whining, and tired of cleaning.  Information changes hourly, confidence fluctuates hourly, and even the advice I try to wring from medical professionals steadily becomes more unsettled. 

We are told we are either part of the problem or part of the solution, except no one really knows which problem or which solution or for how long.  

We’ve been serving members, calming employees, adapting long held systems on a hair pin turn, fearing backruptcy, weeping over layoffs,  all the while fumbling with the current reality that everything seems fine.  We are the people who touch you, move with you, create space for you and connect you to yourself and we are now expected to put that magic online…and in many cases, it’s just not possible…try it with your waxer.

We are generally independent, generally fearless, and generally hard working, but today we are generally non essential, and every bit of fearless independence is squeezed into places too small for containment.  We could not have made this decision ourselves. We are tired, and we are too driven to survive.  So today,  I’m grateful someone else made the call.

As a small business, we can stop pressing forward and sit in a vulnerable reality that, as a group, we are unaccustomed to doing.  We cannot work our way out of this one.

We turn the wheels of tiny communities. We love what we do and the people we do it for. We carve our dreams out through service, and fiercely defend our right to do so.  So, to us, even a mandate can be made to look like a definite “maybe”…so we still have to decide.  To trust the system, respect the fear, and to honor the individuals who will bear the burden of our choices.  You know…the essentials.

Every business owner right now is putting their dream and their livelihood to death in the hopes of saving life.  And if we all go bankrupt, we’ll start all over again.  It’s just what we do.  We are the leg that gets cut off hoping to save the whole life, and we are ok with that.  When this is over, we’ll learn to walk through the limp and move forward again. We don’t mind. We love our members more than the business we built to serve them, and I like a challenge.

As members of the ragged band of Non essentials in Indiana, 148 Wellness is grateful and honored to play the small part we are given by locking our doors and saving our bored and restless members from having to make their own decisions.  Many of you would still come in given the chance.  You’re scrappy and stubborn too, and that’s why we like you.


We love you.

We are praying for you.

We are grateful for our essential members.  The ones who are still working tirelessly and the ones who are home trying to work through tiringly long days.

We are still here to serve you, and we’ll be here when you get back.

“…you are worried and bothered by many things, but only one thing is necessary…”

If you grew up in church, or even stood next to someone who went to church a few times to make their mom happy, you’ve heard the story of Martha and Mary. Someone has told you not to be a “Martha” Someone has told you to stop working so much and just “rest at the feet of Jesus…”

In the stories retelling, one woman, Mary, sits at full attention, listening peacefully, while Jesus is a guest in her sister’s house.

The other woman, Martha, works hard for Jesus, doing all the things…not however, without a considerable amount of huffing and puffing. No doubt everyone in her immediate vicinity was made aware of her over extended hospitality through well timed sighs and strategic pot banging. In the moment she exposes her least sanctified self, she turns to her guest, the savior of the world, and pitches a fairly self-righteous pity party. “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?”…classic Martha.

This is a thing women do and we are quite brilliant at it. Female martyrdom is indeed crafty and, if directed in a healthy way, would probably at least solve one or two global issues…at very least, access to affordable healthcare and more skirts with pockets. We are never so stupid as to engage in a frontal assault. We groom allies. We hire mercenaries, and watch the carnage with weepy eyes from the sidelines. We cry out to God about our burdens and our busyness and then continue to set the same schedule for the next week…hopelessly waiting for Jesus to step in and tell everyone around us how tired we are and then guilt them into helping more. It is an incredibly efficient way to both victimize ourselves and punish anyone around us…I am no stranger to this method. In fact, I’m embarrassingly good at it…and so is Martha.

Anyway…back to the story. Jesus responds to Martha. “You are worried and bothered…only one thing is necessary…Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” I don’t really know what happened after that…none of the New Testament writers were brave enough to repeat Martha’s response…I’m guessing Martha reached a whole ‘nother level of unsanctified. Either way, that’s about all there is to it, and countless sermons as well as sage, womanly advice have been dispensed thereupon.

While I’ve always loved the story and I keep trying to “be the Mary” …I’m just not. I “do the things” and I like it that way. Churches always heavily preach in Mary’s favor but that leaves us Marthas of the world feeling some brand of religious guilt that makes us fake smiles and pretend sweetness when we really want to tell you to get off your ass and help! So I’m conflicted, because someone needs to get stuff done when Jesus comes to town, and yet Mary is the embodiment of a Biblical Millennial. You can find her at any time, crying around about this or that, asking for time off to pray while Martha pays the mortgage. I just can’t.

So I ask then, what is the one thing? Jesus said “one thing is necessary” but He also wanted to eat. In my head math, I am counting and I am not reaching logical numbers. Lots of grubby guys in her house, lots of expectations and asking “what’s for dinner”…easily more than one. I can only assume He didn’t want both of them to sit staring at Him while His stomach growled. His presence in the home required that work be done but it also required the honor of their attention. It required a working form of worship.

I wonder sometimes how different the story would have gone had Martha walked up to Mary and said, ” Hey, I get that you’re home from college and just wanna decompress, but we’ve got like 13 men in our house right now and its gonna be about 2000 years before they are culturally inclined to help in the kitchen, so would you please wash while I dry?…” I think that may have actually been closer to the one thing. That kind of awareness of what is necessary and that kind of humility in asking for help when overwhelmed. When I try to understand what it was that Jesus was saying, it seems less like I drop the workload and more like I introduce the worship.

Worship worked out in a life that is overfilled with things to be done then, simply looks like presence with the people He put around us and connection to the presence of a God within us. While Mary was materially useless she was eternally present. She was focused on the person and not the process. Martha understood that honoring the guest in her home meant that there needed to be a process, but she missed the person. She worshiped the work instead of the One. Like all things we give to that can never give back, she was left with the bitterness that incubates in exhaustion.

One of my favorite authors, Gregory Boyle, describes a homeless addict who came to his front door as “Jesus in his least recognizable form.” Meaning that whoever approaches your door is worthy of your honor and attention. Will we see them as Jesus in our midst or as a set of boxes to check? Whether our days are spent in a cubicle between driving children to sporting activities, or a staying at home doing “all the things,” or just as a human trying to help other humans while eating and living indoors, we are daily encountering Jesus in His least recognizable form. We are daily entertaining Him in our midst…the hurting, the lonely, the aggressive, and the annoying.

Work needs to be done, and we often legitimately don’t have time to “sit at His feet.” But we can be present. We can offer our full attention to those who enter our homes and our spaces and our sphere of influence with the kind of hospitality that doesn’t grow out of martyrdom but gratitude and worship. We can draw in and ask for help, we can step back from a checklist of our own overworked expectations. It’s the thing that Jesus wanted…a heart that knows what is necessary. It is a heart that continually looks for Him in unrecognizable form and does what is needed to make welcome the work that is born out of loving like He loves. It’s just one thing and it changes everything.

As I was preparing to enter 148 Ministries’ first weekend working with the clients at the Hope Center Indy, I had no idea what kind of effect it would have on me personally.  I adhered to my normal sermon prep routine, I prayed for wisdom in an unfamiliar setting, and I stepped out with faith that God would lead.  I had no idea just how unprepared I was for the unsettling reality I would be forced to confront, and that the lesson would be mine to learn.

The Hope Center Indy houses and rehabilitates women of all backgrounds who have been victims of human trafficking.  All through Friday and Saturday we got to know the girls.  I spoke multiple times about the value God places on us, we shared personal testimonies, we shared workouts, and at one point, my wife offered me as a human punching bag.  She has this belief that most women would be better off if they could hit things really hard, so, with my core braced and arms padded, I offered myself up.  And yet for me, one of the most profound things that happened that day was a simple note, casually written on a sticky pad, shoved in an envelope with my name scrawled across it, and handed to me as we were packing to leave.   I had not realized it at the time, but the women and girls had written us each a few sentences anonymously throughout the weekend and it was these that our host had unexpectedly given me as we left.  It wasn’t till I got home that I was able to read them.  They were all unbelievably kind and overwhelmingly precious.

And then I came to the note that changed the way I look at women, the way I see men, and the way I   confront sin.  It revealed to me the true, honest, and very raw perspective these girls have towards the men who should have protected them, but instead, have scarred them.  It read:

“You give me hope that I won’t always feel uncomfortable near men. You seem to be pure in your thoughts and not a predator; which I thought was impossible. I thought all men were perverted. Thank you for not making me feel “looked at.”   I see Christ in you!”

 I finished reading and I froze.  Standing in the kitchen, holding the little sticky note, my stomach turned as my head searched for understanding.  In that moment, just to be honest, I never wanted to look at a woman ever again… ever.  A “predator” can be defined as “an animal that naturally preys on others” or “a person that ruthlessly exploits others.”   So which one of those definitions describes men?  Probably both.

  Satan is also described as a predator…the ultimate predator, a Lion.  In 1 Peter 5:8, the Bible tells us that “Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”  In other words, Satan is a methodical hunter who is intentionally looking for ways to cause Jesus’ followers to stumble and sin.  He is quiet. He is calculating.  He is patient.  He is going about his work as if his life depended on it, and He is hungry.  He does not strike when we are healthy and surrounded with protection; He strikes when we are weak, wounded, and alone.

 Men, do we have the courage to confront that kind of predator …and do we have the self-awareness to recognize when it’s us?  Before you dismiss the ugly possibility, examine your heart, your mind, and your motives.  It doesn’t have to be physical or sexual abuse.  There are many ways to devour.

Ask yourself, as a Christian man, do I do the same thing to women?  As a predator, do I seek women out to exploit them and cause them to sin?

…Too strong?

Ok, how do you think of women? Do you hide your thoughts in the safe stalking ground of your mind, using them secretly and justifying it deliberately?

 …Still too strong?

 Ok then…do you manipulate your wife or girlfriend in a way that is demeaning and devaluing to her as a person, as a wife, as a mother, and as a child of God? Do you use guilt to get your way?  Do you use anger and lack of self-control to intimidate? Do you deny her gifting and purpose to pursue your own?   In the hierarchy of your love, are her needs a priority or a pawn?  Do you protect her heart, or do you prey upon her emotions?

I went last weekend to teach these women about how God sees them…I left questioning how I have viewed women all my life.  Questioning how women must navigate this exhausting narrative all their lives.  I left, analyzing my thoughts and actions, and I left with a mind that is reinforced against the schemes of the predator. 

Check your motives men of God. Take every thought captive.  Where we are called to protect, love and cherish, we have earned the title of predators.  We are called to be providers, leaders, or spiritual examples, and yet, most women have learned that we are not worthy of their trust.  This culture has always been a consumer of women and yet we have not stood up against it as protectors.  We are as guilty as the men who abuse, and sell, and exploit our sisters if we continue to refuse or underestimate our God given roll to reflect the heart of Christ in our relationships toward them.

So, which category do you fit into?  Predator or Protector? And will you choose to see where God is calling us all to examine our hearts as we navigate a broken world.