shelter, love others

How do we as Christians miss the simple love of God so often?  Why do we continue to allow ourselves and those around us try to complicate God?

I know those are powerful statements, but they’ve been on my heart lately.

Love God

God loves us.

Love others the way God loves us. Unconditionally

 

I could quote scripture after scripture about loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your enemies, turning your cheek, caring for the poor, widowed, and needy, and go on and on, but we all KNOW those.

So why is it so hard to put those into action on a day to day basis??

I’m not talking about “oh next week i’m going to do _____” or  “last summer i _____”  Faith is not a checkbox. You don’t get to “check off”  a “love others” box.  It doesn’t work that way.  Following Christ is a lifestyle, not a to-do list.   You don’t get to say “I did my Christian duty for day/month/year/lifetime”   It DOES NOT work that way.  Yet we often practice this through our actions, words, and teachings.  We do not focus on putting things into DAILY action, we give tangible once in a while, destination opportunities.   Going and serving on a mission trip or taking monthly trips to serve a specific group or weekly meetings with people who can’t come are GREAT things, but those things should be an overflow of our daily lives and an overflow of our hearts, not something we do to meet a criteria list.

Does anyone else see this happening?

I’m not saying it’s easy to love everyone, forgive others, or any of the other things God has called us to do, BUT we aren’t called to do these things on our own either.  God is with us through his Holy Spirit and we were given that gift to call upon when we are in need.  God wants to be in relationship with us.  He wants us to know Him.  God doesn’t give us anything we cannot handle.  I’ve FIRMLY come to believe that over the past several years through my life experiences and watching those around me.  He will be with us if we simply call on Him.  Even if we don’t, He’s still there, right beside us.

My quote calendar today read as follows: “God walks with us, He scoops us up in His arms or simply sits with us in silent strength until we cannot avoid the awesome recognition that yes, even now, He is there – Gloria Gaither

Now, I don’t know who Gloria is, but she get it.  She’s clearly been there.

God is pretty simple and pretty straight forward…..if we let Him be.  So stop complicating things.  Stop trying to tell people they have to fit in certain boxes to be with God/come to church/be your friend/etc.   We are called to love as God loved, and if that means scooping up, then scoop up, but if that means sitting in silent strength, then sit.

I realize this post is pretty sporadic, but I hope you find something in it that speaks to you.  I really feel that when I’m going through something or wrestling with something, God speaks to me through my fingertips as I type, and I know I’ve heard Him in these moments.

This has been sparked by various life events, but they all (mostly) boil down to the fact that by complicating God, and things related to Him, we are DESTROYING the Church as He meant it to be.  By gossiping, twisting, complicating, and adding things on to God’s word, we are doing an EXTREME disservice to ourselves and those around us.

So just be.

Be who God called you to be.  Be where you are and rest in Him.  That’s all we can do, and if we listen, He will tell us the rest.  Rest in the shelter of those in your community, your faith community.  If you do not have a faith community, let’s chat about it.  I’ve learned lately that faith communities take on MANY more shapes than simply pews and stages.  they may be Google Hangouts, fireplace breakfasts, long walks, text messages, or any number of other places.  God is everywhere, not just the Church, so let’s chat about it.

For now, after your mind has been boggled by that post’s sporadicness, I leave you with a beautiful song by Jars of Clay

puppy humor

so Pisgah (our 5 month old Jack-a-bass-a-bea) had been doing pretty great lately about not tearing things up, except socks we left lying around, and even then, he’d just chew on them….

So, we decided to give him back his bed, just to see if we could actually buy him a newer nicer one that would last….

I didn’t want him to rip further in the original holes, and he loves sheets, so i had the redneck idea to put it inside a fitted sheet and just see if he’d sleep on it, rest on it, whatever.

Yesterday afternoon he was great, slept on it, pulled it around, nothing too harmless.  Last night, slept on it some….

Today we’re eating lunch, he’s being awful calm, and we come upstairs to an EXPLOSION of little brown fuzz everywhere and the dog violently tearing his bed apart….pictures to follow.  Figured you could start your week off with a little humor.  In a later blog, i’ll share the recipe for the GREAT lunch we had (homemade chicken parmesean)

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Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” – Romans 12:9 NLT

This is so simple, yet we as Christians mess up SO bad.  Whether it’s blatantly being completely fake to one another, being honestly mean, or the one we often forget: neglect.  Neglect, in my opinion, is the worst.  Yea you weren’t being mean or unloving to someone, but you noticed that no one was being nice or loving and you chose to be one of those no ones.  You chose to ignore the unloved person, the weird person, the person going through a tough situation that may be ‘awkward’ to deal with.  That’s, in my opinion, just as bad as if you were mean/unloving to them.

God calls us to love: the unlovable, the unloved, the widows, the orphans, the black, the white, the asian, the hispanic, the children, the elders, the parents, and on and on and on…..EVERYONE.

As Christians, sometimes, we have decided it’s okay to put people in boxes and decide which box is “most loveable” or “least loveable” or “someone else can love this box”.  that’s sick. and unacceptable.  oftentimes, things such as this step on toes because we hear the analogy “we’re one big church, we have different parts, some parts are better at some things than others.”  this is true, but when it comes to loving others, we don’t get to sit back and say “well i’m not good at loving ‘that kind’ of person, someone else might be”,  we are called to love EVERYONE.  the same.

30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31

This verse does not mean you can categorize people or justify being unloving to certain kinds of people.  It means love EVERYONE as God loved us, and that’s a lot.  “Neighbor” doesn’t mean the person you feel like loving, it means your fellow humans.  There is no way around it.

I’ve been redundant here, but, lately, i’ve felt so strongly about this.  Loving others is not something we can categorize, change, shirk around, make up excuses for, we are called to LOVE.

We sometimes use little boxes or the “someone else can love that person, but i’ll act (insert unloving behavior) way toward them” to justify the things below, but….

Racism is not love

teasing is not love

judgement is not love

neglect is not love

gossip is not love

physical abuse is not love

smite is not love

but…..

GOD IS LOVE, so what’s it gonna be?

Here’s the rest of the verse from Romans about our call and God’s role

Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.11 Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful. 13 When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night. 14 If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. 19 Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord.

 


Know.Love.Act Resolution – Blood Water Mission

Know.Love.Act Resolution – Blood Water Mission.

Every New Year, we make resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, give up caffeine, have a cleaner house (or room), and on and on. These are all fantastic goals that help us live healthier, more organized lives. I suggest that we continue to set these goals, but I also find one area that these resolutions could use improvement in; they don’t engage the people around us.

What if, on top of these personal goals, we also set New Year’s resolutions that affect the lives of our friends, family, our local communities, and even people on the other side of the globe?
I would like to propose a guide that will help you create such a New Year’s resolution. Like all good (and earth-shattering 😉 ) guides, this is a three step process to help you create a resolution that can better your life and the lives of the people around you. Are you up for the task?
Here it is: Ask yourself (and answer) these three questions:
1) What (or who) do I want to KNOW this year?
2) What can I do to show LOVE to the people in my life?
3) What can I do to ACT in a way that betters the lives of the people around me?
My own resolution looks like this:
1) I would like to KNOW more about the developments in the prevention of the HIV/AIDS virus by reading more newsletters and case studies 
2) Love those around me by being more connected and involved in the lives of the people around me
3) I want to ACT to better the lives of those around me by volunteering at the free clinic in my neighborhood.
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for mattclark.jpg Blog post written by: Matt Clark – US Programs Asst.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Needtobreathe – Keep Your Eyes Open – YouTube.

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown till you
Keep your eyes open, my love
So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love

Using some of my Christmas iTunes cards, I stumbled across this new album from NeedtoBreathe (a band you should all check out).  As cliche/cheesy as it may seem, this is a great “New Year Resolution” song.  The song is about going out to explore the world, keeping your eyes open, stepping out of your comfort zone….something so many of us never do.   I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more over the past 2 years than in the rest of my life combined and God has done AMAZING things!

I encourage you to find a new way each month this year to step out of your comfort zone, open your eyes to something once unseen, do something that scares you but your gut tells you you need to.  You won’t regret it!  Better yet (and stronger), do something you feel God urging you to do.

Lean into your faith.  Or seek out to develop your faith in a deeper manner. In my life, I’ve found that really digging deep into my faith was hands down the scariest thing I ever did, but (this is true, not some lame cliche) it was also the best thing I ever did.  Giving up control.  Surrendering it all into the hands of my Father, our Creator, the Lord of all.  When you look at it from the perspective of who God really is, it makes no sense not to surrender to Him, but there’s a step there, a leap, if you will, that has to be made, and that’s hard.

Find a support system.  Join (or start!) a small group in your church, school, dorm, community, on Google+’s cool new features, find a way to get an accountability support system for your faith and others who are willing to go on that journey with you.  You’ll be surprised/shocked/amazed at what He can do through you and those around you.  How He can open your eyes (cue Brandon Heath song) to the world around you.

Never limit yourself, your world view, or your potential.  Or that of those around you.

This year I, once again, encourage you to step out.  Make it to the great unknown!

Since I stepped out for real, I have…..gotten back together and married my best friend and love of my life, made some great new friends, traveled to Nicaragua and learned so much about the true lack of barriers on God’s love, mentored, co-lead mission trips, served as a “work project” coordinator for 12 weeks in Minnesota with hundreds of people I had never met before on a Native American Reservation, moved 8 hours from everything I’d ever known, and countless other little things…. it’s been a great ride!  I want you to join me!

Gifts of Grace Holiday Shop

Next Saturday our church will be hosting its second annual Gifts of Grace Holiday Shop and we are in the process of looking for donations, volunteers, clothes racks, and anything else someone feels led to give to us.  I’m writing to ask my prayer warriors to pray for this event and also for anyone to help us promote this event so that those who need it can hear of it.

This shop is truly one of my passions and I’m so excited for its second year!!  There are so many people in our small town who because of the economy and just life circumstances won’t be able to provide gifts for their children this year and I’m so glad to see the church of God stepping up to create an opportunity for them to be able to do so!    Our flyer is below, if you can promote this somewhere, put up a flyer, or know someone who knows someone, let me know.

No matter what, whether you are local to Winston or far, far away, I ask you to pray for this event and pray that we may be able to shine God’s light to our community this Christmas season