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Shiny Stuff

August 10, 2012

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I read a Facebook status the other day that really made me think, so I’m gonna share it:

“Ministry in the suburbs is challenging. Everyone here is surrounded by so much shiny stuff, it’s hard to find the light.”
Jamie the Very Worst Missionary.

This gal and her family just spent five or so years in Costa Rica living life and loving people. Now they are back in the USA, surrounded by the shine of greed. Or is it just the shine of suburbia?

The one with the most shiny stuff wins.

I often wonder what it would be like, going off the grid with your family to help others.

Missionary?

Yea, I’m not really a big fan of this word, and this is why:

“One who is sent on a mission, especially one sent to do religious or charitable work in a territory or foreign country.”

{Ok, that’s not so bad.}

“One who attempts to persuade or convert others to a particular program, doctrine, or set of principles; a propagandist.”
– American Heritage Dictionary

That second definition is why I don’t like the term, because missionary is synonymous with being a propagandist. “One who” has ulterior motives when doing this charitable work in the name of Jesus. I like the loving people part and living life part and if natives come to you with questions of spirituality, then that is cool.

That is God.

It seems more organic to do good deeds out of love, we don’t need to persuade or convert others.

God does that.

We just need to love others, do the charitable work, and let God do his thing. Trust him to bring light into the darkness, because He always does…

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Staircase

August 7, 2012

“Take the first step in faith, you don’t have to see the whole staircase”
-MLK Jr.
(you’ll get there eventually)

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I love this quote and I ran across this picture on Facebook.

So I want to share them.

Faith can carry us to places unimaginable, but we always have to take the first step. Take that first step with an open heart and pray to God that you take it with your heart filled with His grace. And then you can trust that you will get there eventually. Trust Him with reckless abandon.

“Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy.”
– Frances Chan

Hearts at Rest

July 31, 2012

(1 John 3:16)
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

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I took this photo from the book, “Crazy Love”, by Francis Chan. This is a beautiful verse from the bible, I have been continually coming back to it lately. Wondering, what can I do?

(1 John 3:18-24)
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

Give.

Giving to the poor and the suffering, giving freely and with an open heart, not out of obligation but out of love for our brothers and sisters as a part of the human race.

True love requires sacrifice.

In every relationship we sacrifice a little bit of our self, it is natural to do this. But in a world where sinful nature rules, it is considered a weakness to sacrifice parts of your self for love. Others see you as naive when you sacrifice for love.

Caring for our elderly, our children, our spouse, our siblings, our friends, and those strangers that are ours in the human race. We are made to sacrifice.

What do you sacrifice? Time? Money? Food? Shelter? Your self? And I want to know, how do we stop our hearts from condemning us? Where do you find your heart at rest?

Just the Way You Are

July 20, 2012

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I am a born again Christian and it’s just as simple as that, my robes have been washed clean. I believe that Jesus died for our sin, I believe in one God even though there are three parts of Him. Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

(Revelation 22:14)

This blog of mine, it is my way of sorting out life. When this little blog was born, however, it had nothing to do with God or Jesus or Christian faith. It’s conception was a way for me to feel a sense of community with other writers, as I have been working on a memoir about my caregiving experience.

Except the blog evolved into a journal about my spiritual journey.

A few of my loved ones have asked me, “What’s up with all the God stuff on your blog?”. These loved ones of mine are agnostic and maybe even atheist, which makes no difference to me. I love them just the way they are, I’d love it if all of my friends could feel this God thing I am feeling. But that doesn’t matter, I love them all just the way they are; no matter what religion or belief system or non-religion.

I have the passion for Christ and there are no strings attached. If you ask me whats up with my God thing, I’ll let you know. I’m not going to sit there and preach, even though I’d like to. I’d like to reach out and pull those that don’t believe down my path.

That’s just not going to happen for very many people today, there has been too much damage done. The church, immoral Christian hypocrites, whoring out Jesus for political gain, and the list could go on and on and get really very grim. Grim, to say the least. There have been insanely atrocious acts done by bad people to others in the name of God.

This blog is not my attempt to evangelize or persuade anyone to agree with my spiritual beliefs. Being born again is a really strange sensation. I don’t look different but I feel different, and that’s a really good feeling. Feeling different in this way is so…good. I am grateful to God for guiding me to this path I’m on.

And that’s all I have to say about that (in my best Forest Gump voice).

Connecting the Dots

July 17, 2012

I guess I am connecting them, in a way, the dots of life. My life.

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I’ve been thinking though, just because I am having this God revolution right now, it by no means makes me superior to anyone. Obviously. My point here is that I think this is where so many Christians fail others. They fail both believers and nonbelievers. They all have their theology (which turns into their judgement), they attach that baggage to their identity, and then label others as inferior if they (believers) don’t think they (nonbelievers) “figured it out” yet. Some folks do this, anyway, well a lot of em do it. Do you think so, or is it just me?

Maybe this is where we all let each other down.

When we wrap up our identity in our formulas of faith or our scientific theories of no faith, maybe this is where failure begins. It starts to become this us versus them mentality, I seriously doubt this is what God intended. I think His intentions were quite simple from the beginning.

Love

Period. That’s it, even if you don’t believe, that’s how we should treat each other. He proved that to us in the garden with Adam and Eve and continued to show us His undying love throughout the bible, right up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Was it always pretty? Nope, it got downright nasty at times. Violent. Bloody. However, the bottom line is that we are human, innately sinful, and life is going to be hard here. But when you open that place in your heart and soul to Him, it’s that place in there that God reserved for Himself, you can find a glimpse.

A glimpse so minuscule, that you may miss it, but that peace that can be felt when you give yourself up, that must be what heaven on Earth will be like…but multiplied by a gazillion.

*Thanks goes out to my brother-in-law for that kick butt picture up there.

Grab IT and Hang On

July 16, 2012

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Long time no blog.

I’m sure you know how it goes, summer, family, kids activities, work, and yadda-yadda-yadda.

Although I’ve been busy with all of the summer life activities, I have been reading. Reading about God and Jesus from Christian writers like; Donald Miller, Francis Chan, Rob Bell, and Anne Lamont. Then I have also been reading about God from the Bible, which is important 🙂 I find it helpful though to read the thoughts of these other people. See what others have to say out there, to see what I agree with, dont agree with, and how to make this Christian spirituality relevant. My faith is stronger and I’ve become a little bit smarter. Knowledge is power, that’s for sure.

Relevancy in the Christian spirituality realm.

Mr. Miller is my favorite, he accomplishes this. If you ever have the chance to read what he has written, I highly recommend his books. His writing is refreshing because it isn’t this, I don’t know, this guilt inducing thing. He doesn’t make people like me feel bad for my times of spiritual sloth or my questions or my doubts or the times I have strayed from God’s grace.

It seems like he’s been there; either himself, one of his friends, or both. And he writes about it really well.

But there is one thing he understands well, he understands that feeling within, that feeling there is more. It is God’s grace and I’ve always known, somehow, in my soul that Jesus is our Redeemer. I always have, I just never really knew what to do with it or where to start. The way he puts it all onto paper, it makes me feel like my journey is ok, that we all have our own bumpy path. Not many have a perfect journey mapped out.

The stories in his writings are his personal accounts of what we all encounter; as both believers and nonbelievers. The questions we all struggle with about our relationship with God, whether it is no relationship or a strong one. Especially in the book, “Blue Like Jazz”.

Then there is “Searching for God Knows What”, in which he talks about this sense of feeling an intimate relationship with God. Focusing more on the love, like that of the bridegroom and the bride, rather than the formulas and the rules. Don’t get me wrong here, the traditions of Christianity are a part of the whole relationship; but not the only part. When Miller writes about morality and sin and God’s grace, he says that immorality would be like cheating on the bridegroom. When you have an intimate relationship with God, how could you cheat on him. He relates it to a bride walking down the isle and all the while thinking about how she could get someone from the pew into her bed after the wedding.

When I said I was looking for a reason for morality, this is what I meant. The motive is love, love of God and of my fellow man.

So, when we love God in such an intimate way, rather than in that technical theological way, how could we not love each other and live the good life? Why would we choose to “cheat” on God just to revert to our sinful nature, especially when He loves us so much?

His hand is extended, we just need to grab ahold and hang on.

Time Travel

June 26, 2012

I have been traveling but not going anywhere.

Not physically, anyway.

My journey starts and ends with Christ, having a relationship with Him. I am often times questioning the very fabric of my newfound faith, traveling to the places of my past and then back to present time. When I travel, I go back to times when I had spirituality in my heart but had no clue how to begin, what to do with it, or where to start.

I remember hot lazy summer days of my childhood, laying on my back in the tall grass, looking into the sky and knowing, just knowing there was more to life.

My trip, however, started during the “daze” of my college years. In the mountains of Wyoming, which was unfamiliar from the plains of the midwest, where I grew up. This quest into my past takes me to a time when Christianity was about the most uncool topic one could discuss. Especially when there were parties to be had, hip music to be played, and a whole secular world to explore. I still, throughout the mayhem, wanted to know Jesus, He was a mystery to me. Was He really a man who walked this Earth? Was He insane? A liar? Or was he really God the Son?

He is still this mystic person to me and my relationship with Him is still growing.

There were a few friends within our circle during the “daze” who would have the God talk, but it was usually on a superficial level and kept quiet. I often times called myself a Christian but was unsure why, so I explored, intimidated by the Bible, I would regurgitate what I heard others say about Jesus being our Saviour. He was never far behind, though, forever the patient traveling companion.

Now, twenty years later, I want to be able to sit across from Jesus at the coffee house up the street and ask, “What’s it all about?”. I want to take the journey with Him.

I want to travel there, to the depths of my heart.

So I am traveling, I just haven’t gone anywhere. I’m finding this trip with Jesus to be messy, confusing, and quite possibly the most satisfying journey yet. On my way, I am exploring what Christianity means to me in today’s world, what Christian spirituality means, and what I’m willing to do about it.

When am I going to start being Christian and not just talk about it?

Giving to the poor, adopting a family at Christmas, going to church on Sundays, repenting my sins – that is all well and good. I’m a good person, but I have a feeling that my travels may be just starting. I’m not sure where my final destination will be, but at least I know I’ll have the best travel partner leading my way.

*This post is inspired by a series in Prodigal Magazine called Travel Stories. Check it out!