Reflection: Follow the Leader, week one

As far as I can remember, prayer has always been a part of my life. It used to be something I did because I felt I had too. It’s now become much more important to me.

I find it strange I ever considered praying to be work. A task. Praying is a wonderful privilege. We can come boldly before the throne, praising God and giving him our needs and concerns. So why would it ever feel like work? We do it out of obligation. We do it because it’s what we’ve been told to do. I think getting into a regular schedule can help a lot. I know you’ll want to quit because I certainly have. Starting something new, being committed… it’s never easy. My Post

Days will sneak away from you. Don’t feel guilty. God doesn’t need us to pray. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but don’t feel bad. That’s exactly how the enemy wants us to feel. Praying is for our benefit, not God’s. I try to talk to God throughout the day. I like to thank him for things and acknowledge him. He’s always with us no matter where we are. Why not talk to him? It doesn’t have to be scripted. It doesn’t have to be long. Just be yourself. He likes connecting with us. Continue reading

What’s my mission?

Have you have ever wanted to go on a mission trip? Build homes in a different county? Share God’s word in foreign lands?

I know I have.

Not everyone has such an opportunity or the resources to do so. It might make us feel bad or guilty, like we aren’t doing anything to better the world.mission

Some of you may remember me sharing tips from a book called “Joining Jesus On His Mission – How to Be an Everyday Missionary,” by Greg Finke. It was a great read, and I learned a lot about myself and how I can do great things right here at home.

For those of us who haven’t been on a mission trip, don’t feel we’re called to go on a mission trip (Which is ok! We’re all called to different walks in life) and even for those who have been on mission trips… We may feel we’re not doing enough; we’re not living up to our full potential. Or maybe we want to help, but we don’t know how. I felt that way for a long time.

That’s why Finke’s book was so great – it reminded me of something incredibly important. Continue reading

Reflection: Plus One, Married

Going from a single person to a married person is a big change. Craig and I got married almost two years ago now. I will always cherish our first apartment. It was very small, but cozy. We had hardly enough room for the couch we bought, but we somehow thought getting a puppy would be a good idea (Which, we didn’t end up doing).

I talk a lot. We were suddenly around each other even more than before, and I always stressed if there wasn’t a conversation happening. I would think, oh man, something must be wrong because no one’s talking… And I felt perfectly comfortable around him, but something about the silence crept over my skin in an uncomfortable way.Plus One, Married

A lot has changed since then. I don’t mind quiet. And we do have a puppy now (He just turned one a few months ago). To me, the best part of being married is having a special someone to share life with. Never did I imagine I’d be living in Arizona, miles and miles away from where I grew up. I never thought I would get to experience as much as I already have as a married person. I’d probably still be living in Wisconsin or Minnesota if I wasn’t married, perhaps still working at the job I left when we moved to Kansas, barely a week after we married.

Whether you’ve been married for one year, ten years or 50 years, I think Jason brought up important points we often forget. I remember saying my vows, but I guess I didn’t entirely know what they meant at the time. I wasn’t focusing on the words, and I never have until recently. Continue reading

Reflection: Plus One, Singles

It’s so true. There’s always been an invisible pressure to get married if you’re single in church world. Because if you’re single, you’re somehow wrong. Two is better than one. Man isn’t meant to be alone, etc.

Even when I was in high school, I felt like everyone in our youth group was dating. Our leader had gotten married very young. Everyone seemed to yearn to be like them. They didn’t want to be the odd one out.

Outside of church world, I think people believe the idea of being single is awesome. No strings attached. You can do whatever you want. You don’t have to be faithful. At least, that’s what the world seems to say.

None of this is good. Doing whatever you want with whoever you want isn’t ok. Sex outside of marriage is a sin as it says in the Bible. Being single doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It’s just as Jason was saying in his sermon. God is the only person who can complete us. No human is going to be able to do that. It’s important to follow Jesus closely no matter what our relationship status is. Plus One, Singles

A lot of the people I knew back in Wisconsin got married very young. Everyone has a different idea of what “very young” is. I think closer to 30 is the average age most people get married now. Something like that. People used to tell me they didn’t want to wait to get married because sex was too important to them. I’ll be honest – I thought that was silly. All I could think was sex wasn’t a good enough reason to marry someone. Sex isn’t everything. And marriage is about way more than sex. I think most married people would agree when I say marriage is much more complex. That’s why I always thought “it is better to marry than to burn with passion” was strange. But God hates sexual sin. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get married to be able to experience sexual intimacy with someone. And for the people who told me they didn’t want to wait, they certainly didn’t tell me it was the only reason they wanted to get married. What’s sinful is acting on desires that are wrong outside of marriage.

I think we all fall into a trap of believing another person, job, experience, etc. is what will finally fill us up. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, divorced, have a huge family or a small family… I think we’re always chasing something we think will make us feel complete. It could be sex, money, power, status… but whatever it is, we chase it. We make it our everything. We devote ourselves, sometimes obsessively, to getting it. God falls back. We don’t pursue him in the same way. I think it’s easy to lie to ourselves and say we are, and if not that, believing God wants us to achieve that other thing because it’ll make us happy. And God wouldn’t want us to not have that thing we desperately want… Continue reading

Reflection: The Foolishness of Easter

Easter on April Fools’ Day is an opportunity for great discussion. It’s like Jason said…Easter is often considered one of the greatest hoaxes of all.

While I was thinking about the sermon, I thought to myself, I’ve heard this before. Where have I heard this before? Where have I heard things about Easter being a hoax?

Before I tell you, I want to mention something. We know the resurrection of Jesus is essential to our faith. And Jason said this is the part that’s hard to believe. We don’t see people come back from the dead. That doesn’t happen. But what about the part about Jesus dying? Some people wonder if he even died. If he could have somehow escaped the cross alive.

I watched Sherlock Holmes the other day. It’s the movie with Robert Downey Jr, the first movie. Not A Game of Shadows. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a villain who appears to know how to use black magic. He fools and scares everyone into believing he has mystic sources of power. His biggest “feat” is apparently coming back from the dead. At least, that’s how he made it seem. But he never died. He was hung, but had help surviving the hanging from another person who made sure his weight was distributed with a hook so his neck wouldn’t break. The villain was proclaimed dead because he had no pulse, but it turns out he used some sort of plant to give his body temporary paralysis. Something like that. The moral of the story: He was a big fake. EasterQuote

Here’s what’s interesting. Some people think Jesus did something like that to escape death on the cross. So where did I hear this? About Easter being a hoax? I read about it in “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. It’s an excellent book if you’ve never read it. Strobel is an incredible journalist. Coming from that world myself, I find his work even more impressive. He went out to investigate the evidence for Jesus, and one of the topics he looked into was the death and resurrection of Jesus. Continue reading

Definitions

Some of you might be like me and grew up hearing about God. Others of you maybe came to know him later in life. Either way, have you ever at some point felt sort of distant from it all? Maybe you can’t even define what it is, but you know you don’t feel close to it.

I know I have. In fact, I’ve felt that way many times. Does that scare me? It did for a little bit, but I’ve come to realize something. You know when you go to a concert, some people are rocking out with their hands in the air, or they’ve got some dance move C.S. LEWISthey’re busting out… And some people just aren’t? I’ve learned some people may just be putting on a “show” or a “good face.” Truth be told, they might be at a low point in their life. They might not even really believe what they’re selling. But we don’t always know that or see that. None of it may be real.

The journey of life with God isn’t always a golden street with rainbows and butterflies. It doesn’t always feel perfect. And if you’re pushing outside of yourself, it shouldn’t even necessarily feel comfortable. Continue reading

Reflection: On Location, week one

It all started in a garden.

And start in a garden it did. Do you ever think about Adam and Eve and wonder… why in the world did you think eating a piece of fruit would make you like God? How does that even make sense? I know I’ve wondered that.

Then I remember as silly as that sounds, Satan is the master of lies. That means he’s good at what he does. He can make stupid things sound not so bad. He can get inside your head and make you forget all that’s actually true.

Like me, you probably know this all too well. We’ve all dealt with temptations and lies before. Around this time last year, I was going through a situation that escalated way too quickly. When it first started, I had suspicions it wasn’t the best idea for me, but I bought into the lies I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It didn’t take long before I was in over my head.Not my will

It took a lot to “wake me up.” Even after I did, I was still shaking off the dirt. I think about issues I’ve known people to go through… Alcoholism, compulsive gambling, compulsive lying, cheating, stealing, etc… And on the outside, I wonder, how did any of that sound like a good idea? Then I think about my own life and the battles I’ve been through. It doesn’t sound like a good idea. It really doesn’t. It all starts with us buying into little lies. Little by little, we suddenly don’t even recognize it as wrong anymore. Either that, or we lie to ourselves to make us feel better.

Think about what Jason said on Sunday. We do our own will instead of God’s will. We listen to what we want. That’s exactly what Adam and Eve did. There are times we know something is wrong, but we don’t care. We do it anyway. A good example I can think of is a movie. So maybe it has some nudity. So maybe it isn’t that “moral…” I’m an adult so I can handle it. Right? Continue reading

Reflection: Acts, week 21

Has God ever promised you something?

I love Paul’s confidence in the words the angel gave him. They would all be ok even in the midst of a terrible storm.

Thinking about that promise God gave you… What happened? Are you still waiting on it? Have you started to lose hope?

Remember this: It will be as God said. Ken made a great point. No matter what we believe, whatever God says will be. His timing isn’t always “ideal” to us. Sometimes we wonder what he’s doing. Sometimes we start to doubt. But I can promise you… If God has given you his word, it will come to pass.Acts 27_25

What I find most difficult is when all is looking good and in line with what God said, and suddenly, things change. I think back on different situations and remember how my confidence was as high as Paul’s. I felt good, even in the middle of a storm. Then I felt myself slipping because the wind changed. If you think about what the angel told Paul, they said all passengers would be safe. There was no mention of when specifically that would be… And did you catch the part where Paul told everyone even though they would survive, they’d be shipwrecked on an island? Continue reading

Reflection: Acts, week 20

What is the hard, costly or dangerous thing God has called you to do?

That’s a good question. Maybe when Jason asked this on Sunday, you thought to yourself, I have no idea…

You’re not alone! I’ve learned a lot of us are so busy talking to God, we forget to listen. There could be something God has waiting for you. Just take a moment to ask and then listen. Or maybe you have a feeling as to what it is he is asking of you, but because it’s challenging, you’re not entirely convinced it’s what God wants. You figure it’s best to wait it out and see.Psalm 46_10

I remember I was in a tough situation with an old job I had. God provided a way for me to leave, but I was so afraid. I wanted to leave, but I was afraid of being bored or lonely… or worse, going back to that place I had been in when we first moved to Arizona. When we first got here, I was so stressed and had horrible chest pain… and I thought getting a job would fix everything. Honestly, that’s what I thought, even though it was silly. God is our peace and help. Jobs don’t fix problems. Money doesn’t fix problems. People don’t fix problems. God fixes problems! Continue reading

Reflection: Acts, week 19

When I was in high school, my mom let me borrow a “breakfast in bed” tray for an experiment I did. What did I do with it, you may ask? I wanted to see if people could tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi and which one they liked better. If you want to know the results, I honestly don’t remember, but it was a fun thing to do. I used the tray to hold little cups and serve them to people.

I left the tray somewhere in the school. My mom warned me when I took it to be careful. Don’t lose it.

I lost it. It was never retrieved. I remember the day well. My husband and I met in high school. We were outside talking for hours to the point where the school had been locked up for a good while; it was getting dark and chilly… I never saw that tray again.

I had to laugh a little when Jason said we typically take greater care when we are in charge of other people’s things because we don’t want something bad to happen on our watch. My poor mom… She borrowed me many things and I wasn’t always so good about giving them back. But let me tell you… If my sister borrowed something of mine and didn’t give it back, I would get so upset. You think I would learn. Or when someone stole my bag when I left it behind in the art room… I felt panicked knowing I might never see it again (and all I had in there was an old library card and maybe a dollar… I just really liked the bag).Luke 12

When I think about how everything we have is a gift from God, nothing is our own, a few things come to mind. We will need to answer for what we did with what God gave us, which could feel stressful or scary. But have you ever thought of it as peaceful? If you’ve been given a business to run with people you’re in charge of, I can only imagine there’s pressure to make sure you lead in an honest way. If you’re a parent, there’s pressure to make sure you raise your children in the right way. Because if you don’t do your job, that’s on you.

So what am I saying? How could any of that be peaceful? Continue reading