What if we stopped trying to decide if they’re worthy?

Love God Greatly

Kids often say what we adults are already thinking… but with words we wouldn’t dare let come out of our mouths.

“Why are they homeless? Don’t they have jobs? Daddy has a job…”

My husband had just walked in the door from delivering food to the homeless shelter across town. His family plus a generous spread of food was waiting at the table upon his return, as well as a host of questions that none of us really knew the answer to.

“Life is just hard sometimes, guys. We don’t really know what they’ve been through.”

His voice was quiet and reflective, and I noticed that he wasn’t touching his food. The visit had obviously impacted him in ways that he wasn’t yet able to verbalize. So instead of pretending to have answers that were nowhere within reach, he began talking about the people.

People just like you and me, really.

People with hunger. People with dreams. People who have experienced firsthand the harsh reality that life doesn’t always turn out how we planned. People who are ready for change but just don’t know how to get there. People who wish they could be free from the daily struggles that plague them but don’t really know where to start. People who need a whole lot less of themselves, and a whole lot more of Jesus.

Just that morning, I’m pretty sure I was hung up on my dated kitchen decor, my sketchy internet, and the fact that I need to lose ten pounds. Oh, how easily we become discontent and make our narrowed worlds all about us.

His tender words were directed towards our children, but God meant those words for me.

There is a world that is dying.

Across the globe, across town, and right on my very street. And we’re sitting at our tables in abundance, trying to decide if they’re worthy.

___________________

We weren’t worthy.

God knew the depth of our sin, but he gave his Son willingly. For the sin that had already flooded the earth, and for the sin that was yet to come. He didn’t insist that we clean ourselves up or check into rehab or work until we could earn our way.

No condemnation.

No discrimination.

No expectation of having it all together on our own.

He simply entered the darkness and gave, so that we might live. 

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

___________________

I don’t know who it is for you.

Maybe it’s a nation of hurting people half a world away, or maybe it’s the complete stranger you’ll run into later this week.

But this I know for sure: someone in your path – and in mine – needs light to shine in their darkness. 

Will we look at them with compassion in our eyes, or will we look away as we try to decide whether or not they’re worthy?

There is a world that is dying, and the medicine they need is Jesus.

Oh yes, it will take effort.

Probably, it will be messy.

Certainly, it will be costly.

Over and over, it will mean dying to self and all of the comforts we hold onto so tightly.

But by the grace of God because of our genuine love for God, we can intentionally {live in community} with our world.

Not because you or I or the world in any way is worthy…

But because Jesus is worthy.

Oh children of God, may we not look away…

“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.

‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,

you did for me.‘”

~ Matthew 25:35-36

Let’s enter the world and give, so that through Jesus they might live.

 At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to shining your light in a dark world? Where is God calling YOU to shine?

{Living in Community in our Spheres of Influence}… Why aren’t we loving?

Blog Banner Week6

One thing was clear…

It wasn’t about her.

Listen, her job wasn’t fancy. My kids knew her as “the pretzel lady” at our local wholesale club. I knew her as the gentle soul whose kind eyes and generous smile comforted this weary mama every single time she humbly served me behind the counter.

Two soft pretzels – no butter – and a frozen ICEE split five ways was my sanity treat once a week when I could talk myself into making the trip out with so many littles. I’d be sweaty by the end of it all, but without fail she made it a risk worth taking.

I’ll never forget one especially challenging week. Four cranky ones were nuzzled into one tiny cart, not-so-patiently waiting for our turn to order. By the time we arrived to the front of the line, my cart-full had managed to create quite an embarrassing scene. With bruised pride and deep regret for even trying, I couldn’t even lift my eyes to meet hers. My voice trembled as I ordered. But before I could finish, she grabbed my hand, leaned in and tenderly whispered… “I’ve been there. Don’t give up. He gently leads those that have young.”

A hand outstretchedA compassionate heart. An encouraging word. 

She didn’t have to.

Her “job” was to serve me pretzels that day. The line was long. My lot was a nuisance. She had other things to do. But from behind that non-glamorous counter, she overlooked my mess and she lingered. She made sure that it wasn’t about her gain or comfort.  She saw a need, she resisted judgment, and she recognized an opportunity to love.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22

Across the street. In waiting rooms and conference rooms. Down grocery store aisles and on park benches in your town and mine. 

Why aren’t we loving?

{If you’re unable to see this video, you can view it here.}

The need…

People are broken, lost and weary, carrying burdens that we often can’t even see. They’re barely surviving, without hope, and looking for more than this world can provide.

Our natural tendency…

Oh Father, we’re so prideful. Quick to judge and assume they deserve the pit that they’ve found themselves in. We’re so resistant of the extra work. So in love with ourselves. So hesitant to extend mercy, even when so much mercy has been extended to us.

The opportunity…

Resist judgment. Give grace freely. Love our neighbors, even when they haven’t loved us first. Do more than just go to church and talk about Jesus and make ourselves comfortable and love ourselves really, really well. Instead, radically see and sacrifice and love others like Jesus.

Why aren’t we loving?

Maybe we’re too distracted on our phones and can’t be bothered. Maybe we’re too busy serving and loving ourselves. Maybe we’re wrapped up in debates and agendas and so in love with talking about all of the things we’re against. Or maybe we’ve forgotten where we came from, and just how extravagantly God first loved us.

Across the street. In waiting rooms and conference rooms. Down grocery store aisles and on park benches in your town and mine. What if we saw a need, resisted judgment, and recognized an opportunity to love?

And then what if we actually did it…

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another,

as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” ~ 1 Peter 4:10

At His feet,


*LET’S TALK: Will you boldly commit to our {Week 6} Challenge right now? Share your action plan in the comments below so that our team can encourage you and pray for you…

{Week 6} Challenge: Think of someone God has placed in your sphere of influence who needs practical help or encouragement this week. Write down details of how you can love them well through your sacrificial service to them, and then schedule a specific day and time to follow through with your idea.

W6-Challenge

{Week 6} Reading Plan:

RP W6

{Week 6} Memory Verse:

Wk6MemoryVerse

{The Body of Christ} in action: We’re stronger together…

Wk4D5 Instagram

I could tell you story after story, starting back from the time I was a little girl…

A bag full of groceries snuck in the backseat of our car during church.

An offer for free childcare during a season of night classes.

Church camp scholarship notifications year after year.

Trash bags crammed with hand-me-downs, always just the right sizes, and always at just the right time.

An envelope anonymously slipped in between the worn pages of her Bible when she wasn’t looking.

A timely word of encouragement, a listening ear, an understanding embrace.

This was the body of Christ in action as we humbly lived those unexpected years on the receiving end of grace.

___________________

This week I texted her to see if it was a good time to call. She quickly responded with a yes – as long as I didn’t mind a chorus of chattering little ones in the background.  Not at all, I text back. If there’s one thing I understand, it’s that the phone is the universal signal for toddlers everywhere to come running. I won’t even hear them, I promise.

All these years later, it’s definitely my turn to give back. 

We’re states away, so I can’t make her a meal or grab her kids for the afternoon. But I can listen, pray, and remind her of Truth that she’s already heard a million times before. That God is still on His throne and that He’s not surprised… truth that remains no matter what hospital tests reveal. I’ll call her again next week, because the battle won’t be over.

___________________

Another day – this time a coffee date – and she needs reminding that her marriage is worth fighting for. That we fight – not as the world does – but instead we choose to sacrificially pour into our sacred covenants because it’s a union designed by God, and it’s more than worth fighting for. As we talk we decide on regular check-ins, so that we won’t forget to keep fighting.

We’ve circled up on each other’s living room floors, squeezing hands tightly while crying out to Jesus on behalf of our children. We’re in this together, and so instead of judgment, we’ve offered grace, encouragement, and comforting words that confirm that we all feel weak from time to time, but that there’s great hope and power beyond what we can see. 

There have been late night chats in college dorm rooms, pie-baking marathons in the name of church outreach, pre-chemo pedicures, and countless meals delivered after each new baby was born. We’ve raised hands high, side-by-side in celebration and in sweet worship together. And we’ve bent down low together – with no tears left to cry – begging God for mercy as we unexpectedly buried her young husband on that cold December day.

This is the body of Christ in action.

Some seasons spent on the receiving end, and others on the giving. Individually weak and imperfect, but when unified, so much stronger together.

We’re made up of different personalities.

The way we keep our homes – and even our fashion sense – is all over the place.

One girl’s weakness is another girl’s strength.

But we love Jesus and we’re practicing how to keep the main thing the main thing:

No condemnation.

No competition.

No comparing.

Just compassion to do good when we can, and enough courage to take the focus off of ourselves and promptly put it back onto Jesus. Over and over again, with help from each other.

The body of Christ… with Jesus at the center, you’d better believe  that we’re stronger together.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,

especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

~ Galatians 6:10

Because we’re stronger together, and because there’s a world that’s watching…

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: Are you living compassionately and courageously within the body of Christ? If yes, how has that made you stronger? If no, what is holding you back? 

{Living in Community with our families} What will they remember?

Wk3D5 LoveGodGreatlyI’m a do-er in this house.

We moms have a constant pulse on what the state-of-the-home is at any moment, don’t we? And we’re not afraid to hold our own little press conferences and announce it to anyone who will listen.

I’m a meal-making, schoolwork-checking, chore-assigning, hygiene-monitoring, laundry-folding, behavior-watching, clutter-sorting, schedule-planning, task-oriented kind of girl.

My brain keeps track of stuff like: who needs to be where and when, what character traits my children need to be working on, what the emotional state of each of my family members is at any given moment… down to the detailed bathroom habits of everyone living under my roof. For real, this is important stuff for the health, prosperity and happiness of my people. 

I’m an expert in critical information such as:

Child #1 likes: crunchy peanut butter and grape jelly on two pieces of wheat bread.

Child #2 likes: crunchy peanut butter ONLY on single slices of bread folded in half.

Child #3 likes: creamy peanut butter and raspberry jelly on white bread.

Child #4 likes: boiled eggs and pickles, and LOTS of them.

I regularly have crumbs on my floors that need attention, science experiments strewn all over my kitchen counter that need guidance, and six people who consistently require clean underwear. That last one is a non-negotiable, ya’ll. These are the things that keep moms up at night.

But in all of this striving, sometimes I neglect the abiding.

Is it good and honorable to provide for the needs of my family? Absolutely. But when I’m more focused on the tasks instead of the people right in front of my face, something’s definitely out of balance. And trust me, they notice. We find subtle ways to make sure they all notice.

You see, there’s this girl in my house who will one day have a home of her own, and she’s watching every move I make. 

10313295_10152211844173404_4845429788339952335_n-2

She’s taking in my attitude while I rush her to the next thing.

She’s listening to the tone of my voice when I’m impatiently responding to her needs.

She’s waiting for me to finish a task so that I’ll listen to what she has to say.

She’s longing for me to sit – just for a sweet minute - so that she can snuggle in close.

She’ll be grown and out the door before I know it. Will she remember my kind voice and extravagant love? Or will she remember a clean house and my completed to-do list and a mama who was never, ever satisfied?

There’s a girl in my house who watches every move I make. She’ll either learn to strive herself into a state of exhaustion, or she’ll learn how to abide in Jesus as the source of her strength. 

And she’ll learn it from me.

_______________________

There once was a single mom who had four kids. There was much on her plate – so much that she could never get it all done. But because Jesus filled her to the brim {and because she knew that the dishes would still be there tomorrow}, she stopped. And she listened. And she spoke softly and hugged tightly and loved extravagantly. And she was so very, very kind. So kind that her household and the whole town knew it.

And I watched every move she made. And because of her, I saw Jesus more clearly.

That’s what I remember. And that’s how a Godly legacy begins.

{Living in Community with our families} is more than meals and laundry and a thousand things left undone. Community equals legacy when Jesus is at the center.

One day my children will leave my home. One day I’ll breathe my final breath and I’ll leave this earth. And so will you.

What will they remember?

Oh Father, let it be…

Love.

Kindness.

Jesus in me.

“How blessed is the man who fears the LORD,

Who greatly delights in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth;

The generation of the upright will be blessed.”

~ Psalm 112:1-2 

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: Are you striving or abiding in your home? How can you intentionally show love and kindness to your family today?

{Made for Community} Week 3 ~ Why the family might just be your best advertisement for the gospel…

Blog Banner Week3family

This is my family.

It was the perfect Fall day in small-town Indiana. Everyone is showered, our clothes are color coordinated, my gray hair is strategically covered, and our kids are all smiling because we promised ice cream if they gave us one good picture. Just one picture, ya’ll. You.can.do.this. Heh.

But not every day looks like this, because we’re human, and we’re family.

In case you have any misconceptions, I’ll let you in on the skinny of it all…

I’m a sinner.

I married a sinner.

And our four amazing kids are cute little sinful versions of the both of us.

We come from families that are broken. And we live in an imperfect world that has us confused about our commitment to this once revered community called family.

Once revered? Uh, that’s pretty questionable too. You don’t have to spend much time in the Bible before you get to some seriously messed up families. In the book of Genesis alone, we read about how families encouraged disobedience, held grudges, played favorites, engaged in sibling rivalry… deceived, manipulated, cheated, abused, dishonored, and even murdered. Aahhh… and you guys, that’s just the beginning.

While it’s true that family houses all of our not-so-neatly packaged imperfections in the closest of quarters, we’ll read this week that it’s also God’s design for our good. He made us for community. He set us in families. And because of Jesus, his grace is greater than all of our messes.

“The ultimate litmus test as to whether or not we’ve truly allowed his grace to become our default mode is how we treat the people in our family. Home has a best-of-times-and-worst-of-times nature about it. As such, family can either be a watershed opportunity for us to move from walking in the flesh to living in the power of God’s Spirit, or it can be our Waterloo.” ~ Tim Kimmel

When it comes to living in community with our families, the question we have to ask ourselves is just that: Are we walking in the flesh, pursuing our own sinful desires, or are we living in the freedom, power, and joy that comes when we approach the gift of family with God’s intention and instruction in mind?

Another way to say it is this: is YOUR family an advertisement for the gospel? Not some photoshopped image of perfection that only shows up on Sunday mornings (people can spy that a mile away, you know), but a real, beautiful picture of God’s grace, mercy and redeeming work in one of the most precious communities given to us on earth.

{If you’re unable to see this video, you can view it here.}

Because of Jesus, there is great hope for the state of the family today. Consider these three pieces of encouragement as we study together this week:

1. The family reinforces our need for the gospel. “The Bible’s main theme is God’s gracious plan to redeem needy sinners. It teaches us that what God wants most for us is that we 1) become aware of our sinfulness and 2) our powerlessness to save ourselves, as we 3) believe and love his Son and the gospel he preached, and 4) graciously love one another. And it turns out that the family is an ideal place for all of these to occur.” - Jon Bloom

2. Even in less than ideal family situations, God’s sovereign hand is at work. God can use the good, the bad and the ugly dynamics of our family situations for our good. You’re right… I don’t know your story, but I do know a God who brings purpose from hard places (Genesis 50:20) and causes all things to work together for our good and his glory (Romans 8:28). If you’re still in doubt, read what God did in Joseph’s family from Genesis 37 -45.

3. Advertising the gospel in our families can start with you and me. As we build on this concept of living in community God’s way, we don’t have to wait for someone else to initiate the cycle; God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). When we’ve experienced the gospel for ourselves and are abiding closely to the Source of light and life, we can be instrumental in bringing joy, peace, hope and reconciliation to our families. As much as it depends on YOU – and me – let’s shine Jesus into our close quarters called family starting TODAY (Romans 12:18).

*LET’S TALK: Where do you need God to show up most in your family? What is ONE thing you can do today to advertise the gospel in that situation? Share in the comments how our team can best pray for you this week…

At His feet,


{Week 3} Reading Plan:

RP W3

{Week 3} Memory Verse:

Wk3MemoryVerse

{Week 3} Challenge: Identify one practical way you can intentionally invest in your family this week. Ideas: Serve an elderly family member, write a thank you note to your parents, surprise your husband with a date night, play a game with your child, pursue reconciliation, create an atmosphere of joy in your home, begin reading the Bible together as a family.

W3-Challenge

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...