For many of us, becoming a Christian and joining a church is a lot like getting invited to a country club.
We sign up on a little card, are handed instant “community” within the group and are even given a calendar full of all the ways to become involved.
We receive a place at the table of doing, serving and attending. We meet up for regular gatherings that make us feel good, feel loved and feel accepted.
Yet, despite the all-inclusive aspects of this new life, something is missing. Something is lacking.
After years of attending, doing and serving, we find that we don’t know Jesus more intimately than we did that first day we prayed and asked Him into our lives.
You’ve heard the saying that it is better to give than to receive, but today I want to challenge you that the opposite may actually be true.
Not because the saying isn’t biblical (it is) but rather to reveal if your “gift of giving” may hinder your ability to receive.
Our culture loves to pride itself on how capable we are, how much we give to others and how good we can be. But, if we take in account Scripture and especially the teachings of Jesus, then we are faced with the reality that it may not about what we give, but instead what we receive.
‘Tis the season for wish lists and gift giving. And all around the interwebs, you can find ways to fill both needs.
However, even throughout the year, each of us has an additional wish list that we aren’t necessarily sharing with others; almost an unspoken wish list, if you will.
Things that even money can’t buy. Heart level things.
Like the mending of a hurtful relationship with your mother or father. Or the opportunity to finally quit your job and pursue something you love. Or the relentless longing for a child to fill your heart and home.
We may gather round dinner tables or smile across the church aisle over the next few weeks as if all is merry and bright, but deep down, many of us are wishing for something far more grand than a beautifully wrapped present under a tree.
The season of Thanksgiving is upon us. A time for feasting and fellowship, family and friends.
However, despite its name and festivities, this season of giving thanks can quickly be overshadowed with grocery prep, holiday planning and black Friday shopping.
So, friends, how do we slow down long enough to sincerely be thankful for all that we have before making lists of all the stuff that we still want?
I have a confession to make.
I am a gossip.
Seriously. I am a nosey busybody who wants the latest dirt on everybody who is anybody.
At first, it may sound a little silly to confess this to you but I am realizing that just because gossip is more of a “respectable sin” doesn’t make it any less hurtful or less ugly.
Sin is sin, and allowing gossip to breed in my heart is a subtle way to let the enemy sneak in and kill, steal and destroy from the relationships in my life. And I don’t want to do that anymore.
Over and over again in the last few months, God has been peeling back the layers of my gossiping heart to show me just how deep this sin runs in myself. And, friends, it. is. ugly.
You, my friend, are a missionary.
You may not have had to move to a faraway country or raise financial support, but you have been strategically placed by God to live intentionally in the very community you are in right now.
You may not be an official missionary in the traditional sense of the word, but you are indeed an everyday one. You are an everyday missionary, and God has placed you in your corner of the world for a purpose.
And I believe that purpose is to love God and love people with everything you have. (Mark 12:29-31)
You may be thinking, who me? I am not a missionary. I’m not married to a pastor; I didn’t go to seminary. Heck! I’m not even a small group leader.
To that, I say, Perfect! Because God’s Word doesn’t call people to do any of those things.
Today I am speaking to those married women who are in the throes of an unsatisfying and difficult marriage. I want to speak to you who are tired, angry and finally ready to walk away from your marriage.
I want to have a heart-to-heart conversation with you because there was a day when I sat where you now sit and I, too, had finally had enough.
(Please note: I am not speaking to women whose marriages are dangerously unhealthy, where physical or sexual abuse is occurring, or there is a serious threat to you or your children. This encouragement is to women whose marriages are difficult, not dangerous.)
Whether it’s remodeling a house, starting a business or growing a garden, Praise abounds for those do-it-yourselfers out there. However, sometimes, I think we need more “I don’t know” moments and less “I got this” ones.
Tiny little smartphone squares and on-the-go hellos so often encourage us to believe that we need to have our lives together. No gaps. No stutters. No insufficiencies. Especially for others to see.
But, friend, that isn’t real life. Real life is messy. It is hard. And we aren’t equipped in our power to do it all by ourselves. Real life is not DIY.
And honestly, I think that it’s not even close to the life Christ would have us to live.
Today was a hard day. Our baby-turning-toddler has been refusing to sleep, both at night and at nap time. The rainy days keep piling on, which, in turn, wear thin the patience and imagination of the big kids. Daddy had an overnight travel and I am attempting to eat better & exercise more (which simply translates into I’m hungry and not happy). I tell you this so you know that I need this reminder too.
Our baby boy turns one in less than a week – and I keep catching myself wondering where on earth those months, those 365 days, went.
Babies don’t keep. I understand that simple statement far better now than I ever did in those early years with our oldest. If I had to do it all over again, this is what I would say to the first-time-mommy version of me (and to you).
My days are filled with broken arms, baby dolls and butt paste. Yup, butt paste. But please hear this: that is neither a complaint nor a banner of glory. It is simply a description of what my life looks like right now, in this moment. Literally, our son has a freshly broken arm, our daughter wanted to play babies today and our baby has a diaper rash!
You see, God has been teaching me about contentment. And apparently it cannot be found in yesterday’s achievement or in tomorrow’s plan – it is something seen and recognized right here, in this breath.
Contentment is quiet and easily missed;