His Works and Ours

“For the works of the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.” Jesus in John 5:36

We know Jesus is the Messiah.  His truth, His being spoke to our heart.  But His works (and words) pointed to His undeniable identity about all – His divinity and fulfillment of prophesy.

We are saved through faith.  Period.  End of story.  None of us will ever be good enough.

adfgHowever, our works do point to the master of our soul.  We proclaim to the world our love and devotion to Him by how we act.  We have the amazing potential to point others to Him through our words, our hands, our feet, our attitude.

The healing of hearts, of our world, only comes from salvation, which is only possible through faith.  Through the way we walk through this world, we can help others see the grace and mercy that meet us daily.

So, we must live our lives authentically.  We must live our relationship with Christ out loud.  We must live openly and in love.

  • S
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Just An Introvert who Loves Jesus

55518bca65320603f3a76dcce703c4a0Confession: I am an introvert and I love Jesus.

And I’m an introvert to my core.  (For all you Myers-Briggs people, I am so INFJ it’s not even funny.)

But sometimes, my introvertedness can get in the way.

I really like going to church.  But I hate(and, yes, hate) the social aspects.  I hate get up and greet each other time. I hate let’s shake hands on the way out.  I find it emotionally draining.  It doesn’t establish or create relationships.  It doesn’t make me feel more connected. I like to live in the depths.  I don’t like surface interactions/greetings.  I find them unnecessary.

Did you catch all those me’s and I’s?

God calls us to love on people. Jesus put His hands on people when He was healing them, not because He had to, but because He knew people needed it. I don’t need to be the social committee chair, but I do need to reach out to others despite my natural and immediate inclination to run the other way…or at least walk on the other side of the hall.

If I am truly to be His hands and feet, I have to actually use my hands.  I have to take care of my mental and emotional needs, but i have to recognize when I need to set aside my emotional needs at times to help meet others needs.  I’m in a place where I can do this.  So, I need to be doing it more.

It’s hard, but I’m working on it.

– S

Just Keep Moving

Just keep moving, moving.  Just keep moving, moving.

I keep having that circling in my head in Dory’s voice singing it to the Just Keep Swimming tune.

My professional life and spiritual life have a lot of overlaps right now.  I teach ancient history and we are currently looking at the early spread of Christianity and organization and formalizing of Christianity.  So, yesterday we spent some time talking about the role of the apostles in the spread of Christianity.

My students made some great points, but one that has really stuck with me is how their travels are intentional.  So, they didn’t expect people just to come to Christ through a natural expansion of things. They never stayed in the same spot.They were always moving from one place to the next to the next taking Christ’s message, teachings,and salvation through grace with them.

I was really reflecting after class about how that’s what we need to do.  We need to not just rest in the knowledge that God loves us and we Him.

f2371f38e73f9ab7141d7428f63f4fd4We need to move for Him.  Do for Him.  Respond for Him.  Act for Him.

I don’t think we are all called to physically get up and relocate our lives.  Rather are we making ripples (or even waves) for Him?  Are we intentionally taking Him out into the world?

We need to get our sandals dirtier.

  • S

The End

BkJ6Wi4IcAAtC_VThere is an end to life and there are consequences for our decisions.  I don’t worry about mine, but if I really take the time to meditate on the consequence for those I know who haven’t found the mercy of God, it is frightening.  I can’t help thinking – are we doing enough?  Saying enough? Praying enough? Am I being Christ’s love, His hands and feet enough?

No.  It is simple, clear,and honest.  But I am working on it. Unfortunately, my good intentions too often lose to my selfish nature.

Thankfully, God grants grace and wisdom.  Grace to pick me back up and wisdom to know how to do better next time.

-S

Not my Nature

“…do I tell her this- that there is enough loveliness, enough beauty, enough love in the world- enough food in this world- if we would just share? That the problem of evil in the world isn’t a problem for proof of God- but a problem of our own turned inward hearts.”

In this time of terror and fear, this time of heartache and famine, of finger pointing and political games, viewed and discussed again and again…the begging for proof of a God who cares comes up.

A God who sees and watches over and protects.

We got that, but we also got a God who gave us free will, we are not blind followers or prisoners chained. WE are His chosen -if we chose. We are his hands and feet.

And yet we too often we follow lies, and fears, and its easier to believe he doesn’t care and we must protect our own.

He is the God who amply provides. He gives, and yes he takes away. But he is good, and it leaves only one option to me.

We are either instruments of love or instruments of evil. Every choice we make can be narrowed down to this.

not natureAnd with evil so publicly broadcast it is easier to believe the truths of evil, to believe evil triumphs, to believe we must hunker down and take care of ourselves first.
But I chose long ago to believe in a savior born lowly to transform this world, to conquer sin.

That evil will not, does not, triumph despite the battles raging.

My God is good so I will continue to be that good, to spread the love the most and best I can. And I will not be afraid.

It is not my nature, or my truth.

  • J

Goodbye Suburbia

white breadWe recently moved out of white bread suburbia. A street picked from a happy film or advertisement.

I’d been praying about the move for awhile, long before the house was for sale.

It was, it is, lovely and safe and completely undiversified. It has all the perks of white bread, yet felt lacking for me and my children.

I want to raise them on a street with all walks of life. With opportunities to meet people who are different than us, who struggle differently, with the chance to be unhindered by appareance because our arms are already open. Yet, I also want to keep them safe.

Does safe mean comfortable?

God answered my prayer, and here we are. In a big beautiful house – so not in suburbia. And I wasn’t prepared for my own insecurities. I wasn’t expecting to find my comfort in an alarm system rather than my neighbors (who all seem very kind, yet different).

Still, I have zero doubt this is our home, our place to set in some roots. We looked at countless houses, we do not agree on much of anything let alone homes. And we stumbled quite accidently into an open house 5 minutes before closing…and BOTH liked it, and BOTH thought this could be our home. And it’s a 5 minutes walk to school and my parents.

Yet, my flesh stumbles and I’m humbled by my weakness, willing heart, and rampant mind.

We’re used to playing outside, and my Nici shouts hi and waves… to every single person who walks by (and it’s a busy corner) and he nudges me, “say hi mom, wave”. If I’m being honest, people passed I wouldn’t have said hi to without his nudgings.

And we’re slowly starting to meet everyone, at least the walkerbys, the likes we never saw in suburbia. And his little smile and waving hand is reaffirming we are right where we should be.

And God is good, and for the most part people are good.

And we are safe and loved even if I am still getting comfortable.

  • J

Open My Heart

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by Alexandra Ethell

“Open my heart to see the good work you have prepared for me”

And while you’re at it close my eyes. Let reality not cloud your miracles.
Let ordinary me not hinder your craft.

I’m a very ordinary woman. I love hard and fierce, but the more people I take the time to know, I realize I’m not alone in this.

I parent different than most, harder, and softer.

But in general, I’m a firm believer that deep down most people are good. Most people are just searching for kindness, for a love unwavering.

Six months ago I desperately wanted out of my safe neighborhood. I wanted to see and make and feel a tangible difference. I was too comfortable.

Well, now I’m not and I find myself wishing I was. But not really. My flesh is just weak, my mind is strong.

Which is funny because I’ve always been a lead with the heart kind of gal. Make big mistakes with my gut kinda gal.

It’s time to refocus. I’ve written a lot about not being afraid, about helping our international neighbors, opening our doors to those in need, regardless.

Yet am I a hypocrite? Am I afraid of the unruly domestic neighbor who is nice enough, but a little crazy?

And what do I fear? Isn’t my God bigger? Isn’t my God in control of today and tomorrow?

And isn’t this what I’ve prayed for? An entirely different mission field in my own backyard…

God gave me chatty, elderly, very needy people though – doesn’t he realize that’s not my cup of tea! I like children. Lots of them.

I don’t see his plan. I don’t understand his works. I am ordinary and uncomfortable.

But that’s when he works the most, when it’s unnatural for me I MUST call on the Holy Spirit. And calling I have been. There’s a direct number these days.

So open my heart Lord, let me serve and play and love like you intended. and close my mind to preconceived ideas of what this move was or should be. You are in control (thank goodness), let me sleep on that.

And grant glorious unlimited resources for the day ahead.

  • J