Sometimes I feel like the writer of Ecclesiastes. Just trying to categorize and recognize life for what it was and is on a deeper scale than just the normal, mundane daily grind. Trying to recognize all the worlds issues and solve them all in my head at once. It is interesting to think of the writer of Ecclesiastes in light of the fact that he had no hope of a Saviour aside from whatever prophesies he’d been exposed to. He wasn’t going to get to see the Great Reconciliation between God and mankind in his lifetime. So looking at his compilation of thoughts of the world in relation to mankind and sin, it’s interesting to see his numerous proclamations of “Meaningless! everything is meaningless!”
The book of Ecclesiastes is a somewhat poetic and at times confusing compilation of one man’s thoughts that repeatedly remind me of my own. But the difference between me and him is that my thoughts are silver-lined with the hope of salvation for every tribe, tongue, and nation. So when I look around at this chaotic world full of turmoil and distress, I can yet rest in the peace of my forgiveness and redemption and salvation, and the hope of sharing that with others.
I have something to touch this chaos with. Something that will leave an everlasting mark. I have the pure, redemptive love of Jesus Christ.
Let your life speak
Do we boast in Jesus as much as we do our ministry for Him?
I feel like we are so “works” based. I find it is so easy to get caught up in what other people see. Do they know how much we pray? Do they know that we spent the day doing ministry? Have they seen us pray and worship? These are all questions I have asked myself without even meaning to. It’s easy to find my identity in what other people see rather than resting in Christ and what He sees.
We want others to know our works. It gives us a false security in our identity. We boast in Jesus more often to let other christians know that we are righteous than we do just out of love for Him and joy in all He is.
What are our motives in talking about Jesus and ministry with other christians? Are they merely for a confidence boost to know that everyone else is aware that you are a “good” christian, or are they out of pure delight in Jesus and love for Him?
So where do you find your identity? In Jesus, or other people?
I have found it is so easy for me to share my thoughts on a topic or even pray out loud just to sound good. Just to let people know we are on the same “spiritual level”. I will walk away from a conversation with another believer going, “I should have talked more. I should have brought up this or that. I should have made my passions known. I should have quoted a Bible verse! Now they will think I don’t really love Jesus.” But I have to go back and ask myself what matters more to me. What other people see, or what God sees.
Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t take every possible opportunity to boast in Jesus and encourage others, but I am saying we need to watch our motives and pureness of heart. Besides, you can talk until you’re blue in the face, but ultimately it is your life and the way you live it that will speak loudest of all.
Black and white world
It would be so easy to just stay silent and blend in with the never stopping crowd and think what we think. But we have to conquer these days where thinking isn’t strong enough. We don’t keep to ourselves in these times. Today, there is no gray. There is some unrelenting force that demands that we see things as black and white. Pressure forces us to know and admit not what we think, but what we believe. There is no mercy for you if your beliefs don’t line up with society. They seek out those of us who have the audacity to stand up for God and His Word and for truth.
I guess what I’m getting at is that we shouldn’t take this and try to blend in with society. Use this as an opportunity to stand up for your faith, despite the consequences. Know what you believe, and why you believe it.
Love the presence of God
Alright, things are about to get pretty honest up in here. But what I am about to share is one of the most dramatic changes and important lessons of my whole life.
I used to not really love prayer. Or worship. I mean, Bible time was usually fine. There was nothing really uncomfortable about that. I could just sit and hear someone else talk. But during family prayer time, that’s when I’d start to fidget. As if praying out loud wasn’t uncomfortable enough, we’d ‘Popcorn Pray’, meaning basically pray as you felt led.
WHAT??? PRAY AS YOU FEEL LED?
Honestly, it was difficult to concentrate on prayer because I would worry about when to go, and my worst fear was that I would start at the same time as someone else.
And worship. Believe it or not, sometimes the pastor would actually ask us to LIFT OUR HANDS!
*Horrified screams* whhhaaaaatttt????????? THE NERVE!!! Like, I get it when OTHER PEOPLE lift their hands and stuff, but it made me uncomfortable to express worship.
Yeah, so you get the picture. I was more concerned with what I was comfortable with than the actual worship or prayer.
And then we joined a new missions organization in a whole new state. It is very communal living. The actual ‘base’ of the mission is in a basement apartment where Missionary Training School happened. We have students living in the back part of the house who shared the kitchen with us. I learned quickly that we weren’t just part of the same organization here. We were a family. We do life together. We visit refugee families together. It is rare for a day to go by without seeing each other, and if it does, we miss each other! We laugh and cut up, we have fun and do stuff. We learn together, we talk (a lot:) and, yep, you guessed it. We pray and worship together.
The first few times my sister and I got invited to have prayer time with the other students and staff, I was uncomfortable. And during send – offs, we would lay hands on the other missionaries that were leaving as we felt led. In front of a lot of people. At first, my simply solution to my discomfort with this was that I just wouldn’t pray. Not out loud, anyway.
Then we’d get invited to have spontaneous worship. This was just as awkward for me, who was more concerned with my comfort than the worship.
But as I began to spend more time with God on my own, in secret, just me and Him, I started to realize something.
I loved Him.
Soon my love for Him started to overcome my discomfort and selfish concerns. It no longer mattered who was there and what we were doing. I actually started to enjoy prayer and worship. And now, I can honestly say that my favorite times are the times spent in the presence of God. The people here at this mission are some of my closest friends, and though we do so much together, my favorite memories with them are the times we have spent in worship and prayer. The same goes for time with my family. Let me tell you, if you think you are close to somebody, spending time in prayer and worship together takes you to a level one hundred times deeper.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I went from fidgeting uncomfortably during prayer and worship to literally craving and thirsting for those times in the presence of God whether by myself or with other believers. And I admit, it is not easy. There are days when it is really hard to get into that mindset. But I have learned that it isn’t about your mood. It’s about God’s glory. Don’t fake worship, but ask God for a heart of worship.
I would encourage you to spend more time getting to know God. Ask Him to help you fall in love with Him. Once you fall in love with Him on your own, the barriers of your comfort zone aren’t going to matter. You’ll begin to hunger for His presence. Let Him be the most important thing in your life. The Holy Spirit will do amazing work in your heart.
Guard your time with Jesus, and make it TOP PRIORITY. It is so hard to do, but when you think about it, God is the reason we’re here. The least we can give Him is some time of our day to just be with Him. I could go on and on, but I hope this encourages you to seek God and love His presence above all else. ❤
Social media and strife
I would like to introduce you to one of the reasons we are failing as the body of Christ. One of the reasons we are not fulfilling the Great Commission.
His name is Strife. Sometimes known as Division, or Conflict. He has many outlets he uses to accomplish his mission of obliterating the remnant of true believers. One that has stood out to me is social media.
I cannot tell you how much division there is among the believers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others. One person posts something. Someone else finds a small smidget of something that does not quite match up to ‘their standard’, and they slowly begin tearing the person apart. Others join in. They are all arguing in the comment box. Strife has his hey – day.
I cannot tell you how much this is killing me! Can we not look up from our petty disagreements on Facebook and see that the harvest is ripe and ready? Why are we so focused on our differences, that we forget our common ground? Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was that His own people would be unified. He asked God to unify us, like how God and Jesus are one. I think it hurts His heart to see the church so divided, tearing each other apart saying that they’re doing it for Him.
I can see why people don’t want anything to do with the church. By the example we have set, they think they will be judged and picked apart, rather than loved and spoken the truth in love. Yes, we do need to keep one another accountable and call out things in each others lives, but there is a difference between that and picking people apart with useless arguments that lead them no closer to Christ.
Unbelievers see a church that is out for blood, rather than the earthly representation of Jesus. If we spend so much time proclaiming what we’re against, how will they know what we’re for?
Is this conversation leading the person closer or further away from Christ?
How will this conversation advance God’s kingdom and does it have eternal value?
Do I spend as much time with God and my Bible as I do on Facebook and my phone?
Now, I am not perfect in any of these things, and I have work to do as well! Let’s grow closer to Jesus together!
Love you, brothers and sisters! Keep walkin’ that walk:)
In a recent conversation, I was catching up with a close family friend. When the talk turned to evangelism, she asked about where the discipleship piece came in. If you were to share the gospel with a stranger, how would you follow up and continue leading them toward Jesus?
It was a very good and thought provoking question. She asked it purely out of curiosity, but it made a profound change on my way of thinking.
The New Testament talks about people and their different roles in the church and Kingdom of God. I have come to the conclusion that in evangelism, we have to be satisfied to just be seedplanters and trust God to bring along the Waterers and Reapers.
I think that this will also begin to grow our humility and dependency on God as we realize all the more that we cannot do it without God. And, for that matter, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now, I want to make something clear. I don’t want people to take this and give it as an excuse to not share the gospel. I have seen this happen in many situations, one being pro-life ministry. No one wanted to confront the ugly truth about abortion, so they simply brushed it off, saying they ‘weren’t called to that type of thing’.
Not being called sure is a convenient excuse, isn’t it? I think that we can play different roles in many situations. In one person’ life, you may be a seed-planter, and then a get to reap the harvest in someone else’s life.
So, when you are witnessing to someone, don’t walk away feeling guilty and wondering how they will grow. Pray for them, and leave it in God’s hands. You have done your part by sharing, now allow God to meet them where they’re at.
Remember, God’s word never returns void.
‘I want to do big things for God.’
You will hear this statement a lot among the few christian teens who realise they are made for more and want to live like it.
We need to be careful, though. We can be tempted with discontentment, especially in the smaller things God has for us right now.
I have struggled with this myself. I will be standing over a sinkful of dishes or a room to clean and think, “Man, all those people who are doing such big things for God, and here I am, stuck over a sinkful of dishes.”
See what I mean?
We get caught thinking of the things that God hasn’t let us do, rather than delighting in the things He has.
Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t dream BIG. Matter of fact, go for it! Thank God for the things He has given us, but ask Him to give you opportunities to get outside of your comfort zone. He loves it when we come to Him, desiring to serve Him with everything we have.
This week, why don’t we focus on being faithful in small things in preparation for big things God has in store!
Go Team, Go!
To all of the unsung heroes. I want to tell you that no matter where you’re coming from, no matter how insignificant you feel, you are loved. You are brave. You are a hero and I believe in you. God wants to use you. Not because He needs you. Or because He you deserve it. Not because it’s Billy Graham’s day off.
Because He wants you.
I have found that God doesn’t always pick the prettiest, or the gifted speakers. He didn’t perform magic tricks for the pharisees. He stopped for the blind beggar whose cries were drowned out by the shushing of the others. He turned for the woman who touched the hem of his cloak. The small man at the top of a tree. The hated and lonesome. The ones who have up long ago. Those who felt worthless. The ones who tried to be ‘fine’ and ‘okay’ but really wanted to fall to their knees in the mud and cry.
If I had all the right words to fix it I would use them. But I can only tell you this. It’s going to be okay. Don’t give up, because that won’t get you anywhere. All of your greatest disappointments are just part of your story that will make the broken beautiful.
Brothers and Sisters who are worn out: Let God use you today. He want’s to. Your smallest acts may be the most significant in the life of another.
You don’t need a stage and ten thousand people to change the world. Just one person at a time.
Forgive me, this post is going to be a bit bold, maybe kind of strong. But I want to talk about an issue that’s been stewing in my heart for some time now. Now that I have an outlet, I’d love to just throw this out there for you all to mull over a bit. I’m not sure I have all the words to express how I feel about this, but bear with me.
I want to start by giving you a few scenarios, and maybe you’ll catch my drift.
Group 1 Crew ‘He Said’
During an interview, the band said that their song He Said, had gotten negative feedback because of the line that said ‘I won’t give you more than you can you can take, and I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break’.
People, Christians, argued that God would let us break, because that was when we would come to Him, and when we did break, He would mend us.
Manwell and Blanca said that before this, people had said how God had used this particular song to save them from suicide, and help them through depression and loss.
Blanca said that if people believed that God really would let us break, that was fine. But they also had to write a song with words that worked together. They could never write a song that adjusted to the individual beliefs of every christian in the world.
But one thing they said really struck me. You know, those times where the truth stings! They said leave it to us christians to always find something like that to argue about. Hate to say it, but I agree wholeheartedly.
Starbucks Red Cup
For years, Starbucks has ushered in the holidays by adding a design on their cups, sometimes snowflakes, sometimes reindeer, santa, etc. But a year or two ago, the cups were a surprising, blank red.
Christians immediately fired up, calling it a ‘war on christmas’ and such. Social media exploded with complaints about this ‘war on christmas’.
But let me ask you a question: What again was on the cups before? Santa Clause! Wait… I thought we believed that the real meaning of Christmas was the birth of our King, Jesus! Why are we upset about them taking away the santa clause?
And another point: Starbucks was never a christian company in the first place. Why do we expect them to meet our christian standard? Did we really think that they were going to put a manger on the cup?
These are just two of many situations where we have attacked others over a cup, or a song. We can find something we don’t agree with almost everything and everyone except the Bible and Jesus. If we pulled apart everything and everyone we didn’t fully agree with, we would be, without realizing it, tearing down God’s Kingdom, and bringing many unbelievers down with it. Think: These stories and others are on the news, in the papers, on social media, blogs, websites, everywhere. All over where unbelievers can see. I can hardly dare imagine what they think of us.
We are supposed to see unity in the church. They see us attacking one another.
Why are we so bloodthirsty? They look at us preaching about loving others, and being the hands and feet of Christ, and roll their eyes because they see hypocrites who don’t practice what they preach. If we represent Christ, and we are constantly tearing each other apart in the comment box, then what will they think Jesus is like? They have gotten the impression, from us, that God is up in heaven waiting to throw them into hell.
We are to busy picking fights on Facebook to look up and see that the fields are ripe and ready for the harvest.
Guys, I don’t want you to think that I am sitting here throwing all this in your face. This is for all of us, me included. We all need to be reminded of who we are and who we represent.
Lest you should be discouraged by all this, let me leave you a word of hope.
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9
Not our favorite word.
This particular word can be an enemy to our flesh. Hearing it can send little shivers down your spine. Especially when someone uses it pertaining to your spiritual life.
That’s the way I’m using it now.
When you step outside your comfort zone, I’m pretty sure the enemy shudders. Because that is the last thing he wants you to do. One of the biggest traps for us as humans is being comfortable. Our jobs, houses, grades, talents and money can give us a false sense of security, and sometimes we don’t even realize that satan has caught us in his ‘American Dream’ trap. It’s a top secret plan.
Now let me ask you a question: “Are you comfortable?”
I know some of you will immediately think,
‘Of course not! I stand up for Christ whenever I get a chance! Adults are always saying how amazing I am, and how proud of me they are, and how they wish all young people were like me! I do hard things every day! I work hard at school, I am always friendly at work, and I even have passed out Gospel tracts a few times! I have volunteered with my youth group, I’ve been on a missions trip, and do ministry with my family a lot! Comfortable, ha!’
Let me tell you about a teen named Jack.
Jack was sixteen, and getting ready to graduate. He was quite an extraordinary kid. People always said so. His grades were nearly perfect, which pleased his teachers immensely. He was popular in school, and was the student body president. He used his position to stand up for Christ whenever he got a chance. Now, at first, this all sounds great! Like, Jack is the model teen, right?
Now, all of the things that Jack is doing are great, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not undermining any of this. But consider for a moment. Jack is working easily and comfortably from the position he is in. He isn’t running many risks, and he is happily thriving where he is. All he is doing is comfortable and comes naturally to him. But what if God is calling him to something else which may require giving up his life now? Nothing he is doing now is wrong, but sometimes Jack thinks that there must be more to life than good grades and popularity and reading the Bible every day… well, almost every day.
Consider another teen, a girl by the name of Sara.
Sara is pretty normal. Well, as normal as you can be, trying to fit as one of the only homeschoolers in her youth group. She really loves Jesus, but the other girls don’t seem to be as interested in living for Him as they are in instagram and facebook. She tries to make friends and hang out with them, but deep inside she is a bit disgusted with them and their ‘too cool for school’ attitude. Every week she tells herself that she will say something to them, maybe try to talk about the message, but she loses her courage and ends up talking about boys and clothes and makeup. She doesn’t want to, but…
It is easy to see where Sara’s comfort zone is. While Jack is naturally an ‘out there, stand up for what you believe in’ type, Sara is more reserved and tends to give in to peer pressure and let the crowd sway her direction. Are you a Jack, or are you a Sara?
Even when it may seem like you do hard things all the time, are you really stepping outside your comfort zone, or are you working from the place that is natural to you?
God doesn’t need to use you, I mean He’s God. He doesn’t need help. But He, out of His unimaginable grace, wants to use you! He is the God who has all things, but He wants you! And He has a crazy amazing plan for your life. But what I have often found is that God’s plans are not going to be comfortable. Not going to be be safe. But my prayer is that when you step outside your comfort zone, you will fall directly into His arms and discover all the more His infinite love for you.
If you fall, He will catch you. Be Brave, my Brother and Sister.
Speaking of hard things, please check these awesome guys out!
Are you ready?
So. Are you ready?
Sometimes you can see it in some one’s eyes. Some sort of lingering expectancy. As if they knew that something more was coming. As if they had some quiet realization, some silent acknowledgment that they were made for more. And if you stare deep and hard, you may see the slightest spark of passion alight those waiting eyes.
There is more. Do you want to be a a part of it?
Why are we waiting? Why are you waiting? We all have something in us that we’re holding back. Some stronghold that needs to break. For those of us who are ready for more, why are we just standing around?
What are you holding onto?
And are you willing to set it free? We will never be truly free to run wild if we don’t surrender everything first. Are you brave enough to let it all go, lay it all on the line for something bigger than yourself? Someone bigger than yourself? What if we all were to just let go? What could God accomplish through us as a generation of young people holding nothing back? I believe that God can and will, by His great mercy, use us. But we have to surrender to Him first.
Be courageous, Sister. Soldier on, My Brother.
The Christian model is Jesus Christ Himself. If we want to live like Jesus, He says we must die first.
‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save His life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16:24-25)
How Jesus lived was love. Jesus is love. Love means burden. Love means sacrifice. Love means death.
Our flesh wants the easy kind of love. The kind of love that calls for no death, no sacrifice, no burden. But there is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friend. So real love is death. Death to ourselves and our flesh. But if we die to our flesh, we put down easy love, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus.
True love feels pain. Loving your neighbor as yourself means feeling a burden for the neighbor who is lost without Christ. Love is willing to deny itself, step out of it’s comfort zone, and seek the lost. Love feels the loss of a lamb gone astray. Because love is a painful thing.
You see, in evangelism, a burden for the lost is only the door. But love is the key in the lock. Evangelism is a scary thought because it goes against our flesh in every possible way. But then, so does love. So love really is the key to evangelism.
Our flesh wants to ‘Live and let live.’ Love is death to ourselves.
Our flesh wants to stay inside our comfort zone. Love steps outside the comfort zone to reach the lost.
Our flesh doesn’t want to lose anything. Love risks everything.
Our flesh wants glory. Love means denying yourself.
Evangelism calls for all of these things. Death, stepping outside your comfort zone, risking everything, and denying yourself. Why should we do this? Jesus did. Jesus is our example, and He did every one of these things, so we have to take up our cross and follow. Love calls for all these things. Jesus not only practiced love, He was – and is – love.
The Christian life is often advertised as some glorious, pain free road to heaven where you feel the comfort of knowing you now have eternal life. But, when asked, Jesus said: Come and die.
See, love is not some cozy, warm feeling that comes over you automatically when you come to know Christ. Love is a choice. A hard one. Go back all the way to the beginning of time, when you and I were first created. God gave us a choice. We could choose to love Him, or we could turn away from Him and live our own way. Each option has a different outcome. Living our own way seems easier. It’s comfortable. Safe. There’s no sacrifice, no self-denial. It seems right, but in the end it leads to death. But not the love kind of death. This is a different, and much more fearful death. This is separation from God forever death.
The other option proves much more difficult. This is a daily denial of flesh, a daily sacrifice of comfort, a daily burden of love to bear. But this road of death leads to life. Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it… This is the life the apostle Paul chose. While it wasn’t the easiest road, Paul knew what was truly important. It wasn’t him. Or his comfort. No, Paul lived his life for the kingdom. He did things that had eternal value. Not because he wanted to. Not because he thought it was fun. No, he had been radically changed by Christ, and he loved his Redeemer so much that he was willing to do anything for Him. Even die.
Evangelism is uncomfortable. But when you experience and live out the kind of love found in Christ, comfort doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is the fact that people are dying every day without Jesus, and they are going to hell.
Just walk down the street. Go through the grocery store. The mall. The park. You really don’t have an excuse. You see lost souls probably every day. What about all the ordinary people around you every day who don’t know Jesus? What if God want to use you in an incredible way in their lives? It’s not going to be comfortable.
But then again, love never was comfortable.