Friday, April 29, 2005

Invisible Children

At my community group, we watched the documentary Invisible Children. It moved me to tears. I had heard about it through my high schoolers and had an understanding of what is happening in Africa, but watching the documentary for myself broke my heart and ignited a flame inside of me that wants to do something.

Everyone needs to watch this documentary and get involved in some way to help these poor helpless children. We need to stand up for them and help bring peace back to their rebel society. Right now the three college students who put this documentary together are trying to raise money, $800,000 to be exact. They went over to Uganda, Africa, unsure of what they would find, but felt let to go there anyway. After what they saw they have been moved to get this story out to the public so that we can make a difference in the lives of these children. The money these boys are trying to raise will go to help build the necessary boundaries and shelter for these young children so that they don't have to nightly cross over into Sudan simply to be away from the rebel forces who come at night and steal them to add them to their militia rebels.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Whom or What Do You Worship?

I just got back from my high school group and wow!!!! The high schoolers, mine in particular, never cease to amaze me. One of my girls realized that she had let school become an idol in her life, replacing God as her number one priority. She shared this with us tonight and how God has moved in her life since she took action to stop school from overtaking her thoughts and her time. It was amazing to see the true joy in her spirit. The joy was overflowing from her heart and out of her mouth, unable to be contained. She was such an inspiration to me and to the other girls in our group.

Whenever anyone has their own wake up call to God's truth, especially dealing with what is TRULY number one in their life, it always makes me examine my life. Do I have any other gods/idols that I am putting before our Lord? Is anything hindering me from the true joy that God offers? Am I lacking anything? What is keeping me from living my life fully and 100% after Christ's example?

These questions always bring me back to reality and to the point blank fact that I truly need Christ and if He's not first, everything is out of whack. I pray that these questions would be on everyone's mind, so that they could be striving to have a full, complete life.

I'd love to hear ideas from you all on how or what you do to help keep yourself in check or accountable to the above questions.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Being Consistent

I just had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend of mine. We talked about how it is so rare to find people who are transparent in all situations, with all people.

As Christians, we are called to live a life of consistency. This life calls us to love, to give grace, to walk humbly, to admit fault, to forgive, to pray in all circumstances as well as give thanks, etc... We are not to sit and point out the faults of everyone around us, while overlooking our own faults. We are not to put others down and insult them, but rather we should pray for them even if we don't get a long with or disagree with them, especially if we don't get a long with or disagree with them on different topics.

My friend and I were discussing how it is truly rare to find people who live as I described above, at least on a consistent level. Some people are transparent and "real" with their friends, but when it comes to church leadership, any type of authority, or non-Christians, the mask goes on and heaven forbid someone see the real side, the side that actually needs the saving grace, the freeing blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

It seems to me that we have become too comfortable in this world with all of the lies and deception that takes place on a daily basis that we feel it is okay for us, as Christians, to embrace this way of living in our own lives. We tend to get in this frame of mind that we have to "look" perfect from the outside. I ask "WHY?" If our job is to love others no matter what, why can't we love ourselves? How are we suppose to reach others if we are sending the message that to believe in Christ people must be perfect? We can't!!! This is the problem with "the church" today. We send people out to witness or even just to befriend people, yet it is through the motivation of making Christianity look as enticing as possible, even at the expense (unintentionally, in my opinion, but non-the-less at the expense) of allowing people to believe coming to Christ will rid them of all of their problems. When in reality, being a Christian is a daily struggle and most of the time complicates life even more because it is a total change of life and a total change in the way we think. It is a constant process of trying to live as Jesus did, with knowing that I will never succeed at being a perfect Christ follower, but always doing my very best to follow His example. In doing this consistently, that alone will attract people to Christ rather than provoke them to permanently engrain the words "hypocritical," "bible-thumpers," "fake," their minds whenever they hear the word "Christian."

Let's work together to be more consistent in our daily lives from eating breakfast every morning to loving people unconditionally to bring glory to our almighty, most holy God.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

"Prostituting" Your Heart

I heard a wonderful message yesterday at the high school group I volunteer in. The speaker spoke of how it is so easy to prostitute your heart. When I heard this it shocked me, but then I heard the explanation. Oh my gosh was it right on!

The speaker spoke of how instead of going to God for our healing when we are hurting or seeking "something" whatever it may be, we put our heart out there on the line. So often, when there is a void in our life instead of going to the ultimate healer, we go to everyone else and try to give them our broken heart to heal, but yet the only one who can truly heal it is the last person we usually go to.

A comparison was made to someone who has been shot in the stomach. When someone is shot in the stomach, there is much blood and pain. If the wound is not properly taken care of, it will become infected and puss will gush out of it. The bullet would remain in the body as a nagging pain. Now, to make this all make sense: we are like that person who has been shot, denying that anything is really wrong. We claim that we'll be fine and we go around asking everyone else (without their knowledge) for the healing we are searching for, putting all of the pressure on them. It isn't until we go to God and ask Him to remove the bullet and perform the necessary surgery that we can become healed, with only a minute scar remaining.

God is the ultimate healer and He is whom we should be going to with all of our troubles, pains, frustrations, etc. If Christ is at the center of our heart, then we won't have the need to "prostitute" our heart because the ultimate healer would be living inside of us.

So here is my thought: I say that I have Christ in the center of my life, therefore he assumably resides within my heart, but do I reflect a Christ-like attitude in how I handle situations, not just people? While I previously discussed how very important it is to treat people with love and grace the way that Christ would and did, it is equally important, in my mind, that our actions and reactions to and in situations be reflective of that same desire to "follow" Christ (being Christ-like), not to just be content with the easy way out. So, do I have Christ as the center of my heart? Is he the overflow out of my mouth when I speak (Matthew 12:34b)?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"A Whole New Way of Being a Christian"

I'm reading the book, The Story We Find Ourselves In, by Brian McLaren. In Chapter 4 there is a very profound quote that I would like to share:

To help put this quote in context, a woman (who really doesn't have a "religious affiliation" other than that her dad was a pastor) is speaking about a man she met, who is a pastor. She was amazed that he didn't preach his religion to her, rather he showed her what he believed by how he lived.

"Like my father, he was sincerely and utterly devoted to God. Unlike my father, he was so open and human and . . . not real religious about his spirituality. I remember thinking, It's as if this chap has discovered a whole new way of being a Christian."

This comment made by the woman in this story blew me away. She was so turned on by how a true Christian lived his life, that he didn't even have to mention what made him "tick" she was interested in how to be more like him. This woman yearned to know more about how she, too, could live a life like this man she had met. This opened the door for him to later begin sharing more about himself and what he truly believed. Wow! Now that is a powerful tool: actually living the life you claim to offer others through the saving grace of Jesus Christ!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Living a Life of Love

What does it mean to live a life of love? I've been contemplating this question a lot lately. I am married and I say I love my husband, but when I argue with him and resort to shouting or name-calling, is that love? Surely it's not! But, marriage is suppose to be the ultimate act of love. Isn't it? Then, why is it that I can't even get that right? I love my husband more than anything in the world, but I need to show him that love everyday through my actions because my words become meaningless if the way I treat him doesn't reflect what is meant by those words. How do I do this though? If I can't consistently show love and compassion to my husband whom I publicly committed to love for all the days of my live, than how is it that I am suppose to live a life of love towards those I haven't made that commitment to?
After pondering my question of "what does it mean to live a life of love?" here is the conclusion I've come to: Love was truly lived out through Jesus' life and if I am to be successful at living a live of love I must follow Christ's example. He was a walking, talking, breathing example of what it meant to live a life of love!
We need to build our relationships by loving others freely, without any expectations. This is more than merely saying that "yes, I am a Christian and I love others because Christ loved others." It is taking action and living a life that proves what I believe.
It is not the BIG things that show love; it's the little every day things that build on each other(smiling at people, holding the door open for the people behind you, helping someone move into their new house, inviting people over for dinner, etc.). These are the things that daily show love. These are the things that may seem tedious and unnecessary, but it's easy to love people when they are obviously hurting. I challenge us to love people simply because of who they are, not because they need love at that very moment. If we are continually striving to love others on a daily basis we really could change the world. Imagine, if everyone was always striving to help someone else before themself or looking for ways to be kind to others, there would be a switch from the self-centered, inwardly world we live in to a selfless, outwardly focused world in which the pain and suffering would probably decrease simply do to the fact that our focus is on other people rather than on ourselves.