Monday, October 25, 2010

The Ministry of Friendship

This is something that I am particularly passionate about because I think it's one of the best ways to show God's love to people. Sometimes, if you are who they seek to lean on, you are the one that the Lord is using to comfort them. Isn't that cool! You can be God's tool to love others! :)

Here are some things that I have learned while trying to be a good friend:
1. Be quick to listen.
James 1:19:  My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry
Most often, your friends are not looking for you to dictate what they should be doing. They normally know the right answer. If you give them advice and they do not take it, then you could feel irritated and they may be embarrassed to come to  you with the same problem. This is not to say that you should not confront them when they are doing something harmful to themselves or others- but the point I am trying to make is allow them to talk things over with you without jumping in with solutions.

2. Encourage.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Build up your friends, because this world is all about cutting others down in order to advance ourselves. Keep them accountable to their goals as well- it is also a form of building them up according to their needs. It's not always easy to confront a friend when they are doing something harmful to themselves, but necessary all the same.

3. Consider your motivations.
Matthew 7: 4-5: How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Once I had a person come to me in a "loving confrontation." It really damaged me, and I thanked her for bringing it to my attention. It wasn't until I went to my husband, broken, that I realized that she was chewing me out to meet her own needs. There are times where our personal feelings to get in the way of our obligation to love. Examine your motivations before confronting or giving advice.

4. Love
Galatians 5:6: The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Keep love in your mind at all times.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ungodly Discontentment

Sometimes when I'm discontent with things, it is a godly discontentment. Here are some examples:
  • I'm not content with people I love being lost.
  • I'm not content with there still being a huge homeless population in Tulsa (and the rest of the world for that matter).
  • I'm not okay with children being abused, neglected, or abandoned.
Those are some examples.  But every once in a while, there are things that I feel discontent with that are not of God. This was a struggle that I recently experienced.

There I was, just facebook surfing absentmindedly, when I stumbled upon a high school friend's recent pictures. She is dating a famous person. I started browsing through her pictures and saw her hanging out with multiple famous people. She is beautiful, wears awesome clothes, and her life looks fabulous and glamorous.

And that got me thinking...
Why isn't my life this glamorous?
Why don't I have awesome clothes?
Why don't I hang out with famous people?

I was jealous. I was discontent.

That's when God gently reminded me:
You have a husband that I designed specifically for you.

You have a great family that loves you.

I have surrounded you with amazing friends.

But most of all...

You have me.

Forgive me Lord. Thank you for my incredible life. I couldn't have designed one better if I tried.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A World Full of Neighbors

Luke 10: 25-29
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 

This story has come up for me one way or another quite a few times this past month. I thought it would be nice to share what I've learned. This guy wasn't asking this question to ensure that he served the right people and did the right thing. He asked this question so that he could limit who he served to only his "neighbors."

Jesus saw through this and told a parable that showed that He means anyone in need. Our neighbors are anyone who happens to be around us at a given time. Our neighbors are those who are hurting, those in need, those who are neglected, and those who are oppressed. Our neighbors are not just the people living next door- we live in a world full of neighbors!

Since you're here, check out my other blog. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just As You Are

Hello friends! I just wanted to give everyone who reads this (all 10 of you, hehe) that I have started another blog. This one is just going to focus on fun, silly, every-day stuff that goes on in my life. If you want to check it out, it's here.

Acts 15:11:
   "No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."

I was reading this passage this afternoon. Here's a little background- Some of the early Christians were arguing about whether or not the Gentiles (non-Israelite origin) needed to be circumsized in order to receive Salvation. God had just recently enlightened them (Acts 11) that Salvation was also available to Gentiles, and now they were trying to discuss if they needed to adhere to the Jewish custom of circumcision.

That's when Peter shouts out, "No! They can come as they are."

I think this is a beautiful illustration of how God loves us. Broken, bruised, happy, sad, clean or unclean... God loves YOU. I think that sometimes the church does a poor job of welcoming people that may not fit into their idea of what "church folk" should be like, but that is not a reflection of Jesus' love. Jesus loves you, and you don't have to wait to clean up before you meet Him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

To Daddy

I had planned on making a post for Father's Day and it completely slipped my mind. Now I feel like a jerk...

So this is for my Daddy, one of my biggest heroes.
Dad has taught me:

  • The importance of hard work.
  • You serve the ones you love.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • How to have a good sense of humor.
  • To mean what I say and say what I mean. I definitely got my straight-forwardness from my Dad!
  • That you NEVER lay crying on the soccer field unless a bone is broken. :)
  • To never judge a book by it's cover.
The reason that the last on is on there, is I often hear, "You're Dad scares me!" from people who just meet my dad. Like me, he's pretty reserved until he feels more comfortable around someone. It sort of surprises me because it's not the person that I know at all! He does come off gruff, but he has a heart of gold. We are a lot alike and I'm proud of that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Have It Your Way

I'll stop searching for the answers
I'll stop praying for an escape
And I'll trust you, God, with where I am
And believe that You will have Your way.
-Britt Nicole, Have Your Way

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Lord, help us not to resist Your will for our lives. Help us to get out of our own way and allow you to do something amazing for this lost world.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What do you believe?

I read a blog post from Compassion International today that got me thinking, but first I must digress from my point... We have adopted the cutest little little boy through Compassion. His name is Cesar and he's from El Salvador. He loves to play soccer. He writes us letters and draws us pictures...I love him!

Back to the point...
I was reading this in one of their blogs:
This is what we believe. It defines our ministry.

We believe

…in the Holy Scriptures as originally given by God,
divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the
supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct…

One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit…

Our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, His
virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles,
His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection,
His ascension, His mediatorial work, and His Personal
return in power and glory…

The Salvation of lost and sinful man through the shed
blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works,
and regeneration by the Holy Spirit…

The Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the believer is
enabled to live a holy life, to witness and work for the
Lord Jesus Christ…

The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church,
the Body of Christ…

The Resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they
that are saved unto the resurrection of life, they that are
lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

I liked the very first line, "this is what be beleive. It defines our ministry." I once heard in a sermon that values mean nothing unless they change behavior. That really stuck with me. I can say all I want that I believe in the power of The Holy Spirit, and I do. I believe it true when I hear of stories of healing, love, forgiveness, and restoration that happen each and every day because of the Holy Spirit's power.

Just sometimes...I forget that that same power resides in me and all the other followers of Christ.

How would I be different if I truly realized that? How much more effective would I be if I allowed God to work in the ways that He wants to through me?

It's important to pursue knowledge so that we may define our behavior in regards to what we believe.

How do your beliefs influence your behavior? Are you pursuing knowledge to strengthen and encourage yourself?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

THANK YOU to all the mom's out there!
For those of you who don't know, my husband and I don't have children yet. Since we got married, I started thinking about what sort of parent I would be. Would I be strict? Lenient? A combination? I know that when I was younger, I thought that I would NEVER be the sort of parent that my parents were. But now as I'm older, I can see that a lot of the things that they wouldn't allow me to do as a teenager protected me from being in potentially harmful situations.

This is what I've learned from my wonderful mother:

  • Sometimes it's more important to be a parent than a best friend. 
  • Seek the Lord's guidance in everything. 
  • Show kindness and compassion to all people. 
  • Take care of your family. 
  • It's better to be classy than draw attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons. 
  • If you love someone, make sure that they know it by your words and actions. 
  • Support the people you love when they are doing something that they love. (Thanks mom, for attending EVERY soccer game, no matter how far away.)

Happy Mothers Day, Mom!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friend of God

Matthew 26: 14-18
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Matthew 26: 20-23, 25
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me." They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?" Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me." 22They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?" Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you."

Can you imagine being Judas at the table, and having all eyes turn toward you? Awwwwkward! I really wonder what that moment was like. I have a feeling he wasn't the most popular guy in the bunch...
Obviously, Judas knows that he's the one that Jesus is talking about because we see that he already planned to do it before the Lord's Supper. He must be asking just to see if Jesus knows what he's planning.

Matthew 26: 47-50
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him." Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him. Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for."

FRIEND!?! Let's keep in mind that Jesus is fully aware of what that kiss means. Jesus is fully aware that Judas is betraying him and that he is about to die a horrible death. If I were Jesus at that moment, the word "friend" would not be in my vocabulary. It would be something more along the lines of $%#$$%$^$^$%...insert whatever foul-mouthed word you'd like in there. There would have also been some sort of physical altercation if it were me, instead Jesus provides healing (Luke 22:51)

I have learned two things from Jesus in this moment:
1. If he was able to love even his betrayer, then I should love those who betray and mistreat me. I surely haven't been betrayed/mistreated to that extent.
2. Jesus' reactions to situations are completely the opposite of what the world expects. It draws attention and raises eyebrows. It causes people to question His motives and examine the reason behind this actions.

How can you act differently in a way that draws attention to God?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Help me to do Your will... if I will.

I wonder how many of us reach our full potential in Christ. Hmm... probably no one, ever. Sometimes we just get so caught up in worrying how others will see us, or letting go of something that God is calling us to release. Or other times, we resist what God is calling us to do because it doesn't align with our will for ourselves.

The latter is usually my problem. In college, God was practically screaming at me to break up with the guy that I was dating. All signs pointed to that. My friends didn't think we were good together, my family didn't think that we were good together, I didn't even think we were that good together. 

But I was comfortable.

Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
I wanted to have something that was more than just comfortable. I wanted something that was fantastic.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
- God wanted me to give up something okay, for something excellent.

Had I continued to ignore God's will for me, I wouldn't be married to my husband right now. I'd be stuck in my "comfort" with the guy who wanted to break up when I didn't want to heat up his chicken strips for him. I would have given up something extraordinary for something that was barely ordinary.

And that's a simple example. By resisting God for any of the above reasons (and I'm sure there's more than that), we are giving up the amazing blessings that God has waiting for us. It like Michael Phelps at the Summer Olympics saying, "I think I want to trade my 8 gold medals for silver... no... make that bronze, please."

What is keeping you in the "ordinary" range? How can you let go of it?

Lord, I ask that we allow ourselves to let go of anything that acts as a barrier between us and You. Help us to recognize Your will for us, and help us be willing to go for the gold.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Unfailing Love

Romans 5:8:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I had the opportunity to talk about Christ today with good friend who is a non-believer. One part of me wanted to be proud of myself, but the other part of me knew that our talk had nothing to do with me. God loved her so much that he made me push through the nervousness that I had so He could love her through me. I just happened to be the person He decided to use that time. He reached me through other people that did the same thing. Jesus expects us to pass along the knowledge of how others can obtain the same gift that we have received.

God loves us regardless of what we believe. God wants us to have a relationship with Him.  God loved us (and I'm using "us" to refer to Christians right now) before we believed enough to send other people in our path to share His love.

Don't let your anxiety, fear, embarrassment, or lack of knowledge stop you from being obedient to God.  Someone else was in your place before you believed.

Monday, February 1, 2010

There's Freedom in Forgiving Your Enemies

Welp, I'm currently at home sick so please pray for me.  But I have seen a benefit in being in a completely silent house, I've been spending a lot of alone time with God and it's been pretty awesome.  I wanted to share something that God is currently teaching me:

I'm reading a book called, God's Outrageous Claims by the author Lee Strobel.  I started reading it before a couple of years back but never made it all the way through.  I started it up at a great time because I had just experienced a situation where I was pretty angry at someone and I knew I'd have a hard time forgiving this person.

The first outrageous claim is that there's freedom in loving our enemies.  Now, I've never actually had someone that I could label as an enemy, but there have definitely been people who have spread lies about me, stabbed me in the back, hurt me, and just plain treated me wrongly.  I have those people in mind when I read about forgiveness.  Do you have anyone that you can think of?

Jesus was very precise told us to "love" our enemies, that doesn't imply emotion as much as it implies an attitude.  We aren't technically supposed to like the person, because at times that's an emotion we can't conjure up.  However, we are to act as though we like the person. People matter to God, just like you and me.  If God was able to forgive us, how could we not pass that forgiveness onto others?

There are psychological, physical, and relational benefits to forgiving others.  I once heard a pastor quote, "Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies." Harboring anger can be a consuming poison. If we are able to forgive others, we are not only healing ourselves but we are also bringing attention to God's Kingdom.

Sometimes, to me, forgiveness seems to contradict everything about my human nature. At times, I want to respond to things by hitting back harder. But that is not the attitude that God requires of us.
Strobel suggests using the "P-E-A-C-E" process.

Pray. Pray for ourselves when we can't seem to find the ability to forgive. Pray for the individual that caused us harm.  It's really hard to hate someone when we pray for them.
Empathize. We always evaluate the worth of others based on their relationship to us, but instead we need to see them in relation to their worth in God. When we start seeing people through God's eyes, they begin to matter more to us.
Act. The Bible tells us to do good to those who hate us.  Can we commit to keep alert for opportunities to serve this person? Can we drop the end of our rope?
Confess. More often than not, we share a part in the blame. Few things accelerate peace as much as humbly admitting our own wrongdoing and and asking forgiveness.
Emulate. How would Jesus treat this person? Jesus actually prayed for his tormentors as he was being crucified. If His torture could not silence Him, what could we possibly experience that could silence us?

Strobel, L. (2005). God's outrageous claims. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Christianity is not:
  • Rules and regulations
  • A high horse you ride on
  • A life of guilt for never being "good enough"
  • Empty promises
  • Judging others
  • A tool to glorify yourself
Christianity is:
  • A lifestyle that reflects the grace, love, and joy that God has given to us. 
  • A lifestyle that loves FIRST.
  • Freedom, peace, joy, and hope.
  • A lifestyle that doesn't impose judgment onto others.
  • A lifestyle that shows the world who Christ is, and what He has to offer all.