Not My Words, His

Ya’ll my heart is hurting. Every day I wake up and something else is on the news that absolutely breaks my heart. It seems that the people and things that I care deeply about are being voraciously attacked and I feel utterly helpless.

Two examples that are especially close to my heart are what I want to talk about (Even though I care about other things, I can only handle a few at a time right now). Healthcare for women, those with pre-existing conditions, and veterans in our country and other countries has been revoked. Refugees are going to have their visas revoked and immigrants are not allowed at all from many countries. As a Christian this is devastating to me. I believe that as the Church I have a responsibility to these people.

I can’t talk about this with a clear head because I am so upset and overwhelmed with what is happening so quickly, so I am going to let the Bible speak for me.

  1. If your motivation behind not wanting to support healthcare for the needy or bringing in refugees is that it will cost you money. Here are some verses for you.
    1. 1 Timothy 6:9-11 ” Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 11But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.…”
    2. Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
    3. 1 Corinthians 6:10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
    4. Luke 12:33-34 “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
  2. If your motivation behind not wanting to care for refugees is that you are afraid of terrorists, scared of Muslims converting us all to Islam, or anxious about anything to do with others coming into our country here are a few verses for you.
    1. Psalm 27:1 “the Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid.”
    2. Psalm 118:6 “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
    3. 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
    4. Mark 12:31 “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
    5. Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
    6. 1 John 3:17-18 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
    7. Matthew 25:25-36 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
    8. 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

 

I believe that the Bible lays out exactly what your response should be as a Christian. There isn’t room for excuses.

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Burden of Proof

Recently I have been pondering what kind of life I am supposed to be leading. This contemplation has led me to the conclusion that if I am to emulate anyone it should be Jesus. Jesus is the only perfect man to ever walk the Earth, and I would guess he would be the ideal candidate for a role model. Having grown up in the church and read a lot of the Bible; I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of who Jesus was when he was here on Earth. I know about him as a child. I remember stories of his miracles. I am familiar with the death, burial, and resurrection. However, I also am exceedingly aware that I can always learn more.

There is a quote from Albert Einstein that says, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” I can see evidence of this in my own life, and it is the reason that I firmly believe in being an ever growing and ever changing person. I don’t ever want to arrive at a place where I cannot be taught any thing else. I never want someone to be able to rightly accuse me of being stuck in my ways and beliefs just because that is the tradition that I have always existed in.

I have begun re-reading the gospels because I want to better acquaint myself with the life of Christ. This isn’t to say that the rest of the Bible isn’t important, but if I am to model myself after the one who is perfect I should know as much as I can about him. Today my study was in Matthew chapters one and two.

The first thing that struck me was how familiar the story of Jesus’ first few years of his life is to me. It was hard to stay engaged in the story because I felt like I already knew how it turned out. (this is a whole different issue – #christianschoolproblems) The second thing that struck me was how God the Father continually provided direction to Mary and Joseph throughout the entire first two chapters. He protected them without fail. The final thing that really hit me was at the very end of Chapter two. Joseph is afraid to go where God has told him to go, but that ultimately ends up fulfilling prophecy that God has given.

This last point is what I really want to hit on, mostly because it is what I learned that is new to me. I don’t ever remember reading or hearing this part of the story. In verse 20 of chapter 2 God told Joseph to “rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” King Herod had died. There was no more threat and God was saying it was safe to go home. This part of the story does not have many details beyond that, but it does say that Joseph was afraid to go back because of things he had heard.

At first glance this was crazy to me. My first instinct was to yell at Joseph. “Don’t you remember that a few verses ago God protected you?! How are you already doubting him?!” I looked at that moment in Joseph’s life and can’t understand how God hasn’t fulfilled his burden of proof to Joseph. My next though snaps back to the Old Testament and all the times that God provided for the Israelites. God would provide for them in one moment and the next they would be worried or complaining about what was next. Finally, I flash forward to my own life and I am hit with the realization that we as followers of God have not changed one little bit.

God provided 17,000 dollars in donations for me in 8 months to go on the World Race, but I still sometimes worry that he won’t provide for the dreams that I have to own a house so that I can adopt and foster kids. God has (countless times) provided me with solid community where I can thrive, but anytime I am going into a new situation I begin to worry that I won’t find that community that I love. I continue to doubt God. He proves himself to me over and over and over again, and yet I still doubt. I still fear. I still worry.

Fear, worry, and anxiety is mentioned hundreds of times in the bible. When I am in the midst of this fear and anxiety, I am telling God that I don’t trust him. I am saying that it doesn’t matter that he has provided burden of proof not only to me, but also to Christians throughout the decades. I am ignoring his provision and focusing on the problem.

The good news in all of that, is despite Joseph’s fear – and taking his family Nazareth instead of Judea – prophecy was fulfilled. Despite the Israelites complaining, fear, and lack of trust God still called them his chosen people and led them into the promise land.

I am so glad that God doesn’t only call those to do his work who are qualified. My lack of trust in him would be enough to disqualify me from any sort of work he would have me do. Instead he uses us in our shortcomings to fulfill his plan.  That doesn’t excuse me from working to lead the life he would has for me, but it does take some of the pressure off.

Live Like I’m The Answer To My Own Prayer

“God I want justice for the people who are marginalized.” “God, please give all the children in Indianapolis homes. I pray for no children without somewhere to lie their head at night.” “Jesus, my friend is really struggling financially, please provide for her family in this time of unemployment.” “God, that family who just had their house burn down, please be with them and give them comfort. Please give them the clothes they need and the shelter of a place to go.”

These are all prayers that I have prayed. Most of them I have actually prayed in the past two weeks.  I am so convicted that that isn’t enough. Just praying for these things isn’t enough for me.

It is not enough for me to pray that God will help the people around me that are struggling and hurting. God is not impressed with my spirituality when I sit around and pray for things that I can physically or emotionally be the answer to. When I pass by the homeless man and pray that God will put someone in his life to love him and be a support for him and don’t myself stop I am convicted that I am committing one of the greatest forms of hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is defined as, “the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do”. But I also think it needs a second definition. “The behavior of people who tell others to do what they themselves are not willing to do.

I spend a lot of time praying that God will send someone to do the things that I don’t have the time or money to do. “God please provide the funds for that family to rebuild their house.” “God send someone to be a defense for my neighbors who are experiencing hate because of who they are .” Let’s be real for a second. It isn’t that I don’t have the time or the money. It is that it isn’t important to me and I don’t want to. It is more important to me to feel safe or buy the things I want than to be the solution. It is a lot easier for me to say a quick prayer and believe that God will use someone else with more time, more resources, and more passion to do the things I don’t want to do than for me to roll up my sleeves and do the work myself.

Something that I was told a few years ago was that “God uses the willing”. What If I was willing to be the answer to my own prayer? What if the fact that it is on my heart to pray for it at all is God pushing me into action? When did it be ok for me to use that gentle nudge as just a call to prayer instead of as a call to action? Why did I decide that it was acceptable to have prayer be my only action?

I want to live like I am the answer to my own prayer.

I also want to challenge you to do the same.

If we all lived like we were the answer to the things we were praying for I believe we really could be the change we want to see in our cities. This is not a time for sitting on our hands. There is more pain and need in the world than there has ever been in my lifetime. If we all were willing to do the work we could see those prayers answered.

 

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18 ESV

 

A Whole LifeTime

Yesterday sitting in Church my pastor, Aaron Brockett, talked about doing Whole 30. He was talking about how white knuckling things almost never works. We can’t rely on our willpower to just force ourselves to do something because we just end up resenting whatever we are trying to do or falling back into old habits. He used the reference of going to dinner with his wife and searching the menu for something he could eat. They finally found something and low and behold it came with a beautiful, delicious bread stick. From my years of dieting I could picture it. A steaming hot bowl of soup – that while delicious and filling – suddenly has no appeal compared to the warm, soft bread stick that is dripping with garlic butter.

Just writing those words makes me want a bread stick and honestly thinking about bread sticks make me want fake cheese sauce and pizza with the works, but I digress.

It was at that moment that Aaron’s wife said something that I have not been able to get out of my mind. She said, “It isn’t about getting through Whole 30 so that we can go back to the way things were before – it is about changing our tastes so that we no longer desire the things we had before”. Now I know that I took the whole thing much more literally than Aaron was trying to convey. The sermon was about sin and our lives and the Sermon on the Mount, but it related to me 100% when it comes to food.

I first remember thinking about size and food when I was in sixth grade, and I have been on every diet under the sun since then. I have lost weight, and gained it back. I have been diligent for weeks, months even only to eventually go right back to where I started. My mindset has always been “When I finish this program – then I can have that….”, “When I get down to … weight I can eat ‘bad’ food again sometimes”, “Anything I can do to lose the weight and then I can do what I want”.

It has never worked. Ever.

My mindset has never been that I was trying to change the way food tasted or the things I craved. It has always been that I could have those things I craved after I was done with whatever diet I was on or whenever my cheat day was. I have been white knuckling my way through being healthy and it really has just caused me to gain more weight than I probably would have if I had just eaten like everyone around me.

All that being said, I am going to use this blog to talk to you about my life leveled up.Part of that leveled up life will be a journey of changing the way I relate to food. I am going to change the way I eat. I have heard of success in changing food cravings using Whole 30, so I am going to use that “program”. However, I am not looking to stop Whole 30 in 30 days. I guess I’d call it Whole Lifetime?