buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the tag “Community helping one another”

Be the Light

Have you ever had a dream that left you feeling unsettled? The last two mornings, I have had that feeling. I don’t know why I dreamed the things I have dreamed, but they were disturbing nonetheless. This last one was about a storm brewing that I could not escape. The winds were picking up and the black clouds were rolling in. I was not at home and I couldn’t make my way there because I couldn’t find my car – actually it was a van which is a bit more unsettling to me as well! Anyway, I woke up in that state of “what am I to do?” “Where am I going to go?” Yuck. I didn’t get to finish the dream. I guess that’s why it’s so unsettling; there’s no conclusion. Did I make it through the storm? Did I ever find the hideous van? (Nothing against vans, but this one was a wreck.)

Maybe this dream was because of the unsettled times we’re in. The storm brewing feels like it’s never going to end. And we are, for sure, not at home in this place. I don’t usually write about the tragedies we are experiencing. But I read some of the comments on Facebook last night about gun control, mental illness and politics that left me feeling a bit unsettled. There is a lot of anger coming from all corners. I don’t have kids so I really don’t think about the things parents think about, but I understand the anger.

I don’t have a problem with guns, although I don’t like them. I feel sorry for those who are dealing with mental illness. And I am sorry that all they are given are drugs instead of helping them with the problem. There has to be a different course of action. Background checks will continue to fail the system. Evil is still a problem that cannot be legislated. Parkland maybe the latest but unfortunately will not be the last. There is always a way for evil to find its way. “Where there is a will there will be a way.” It does feel hopeless and unsettling.

We have been on this slippery slope for quite some time. I can remember the unsettling times we had when I was growing up. Back then it was rioting and knives were the course of action. Guns were not an issue. I don’t remember what set it all off. I was in grade school when the riots happened in the local high school. When the high school kids came onto our school grounds, the principal made them leave – and they did. There was respect for authority back then.

Maybe it was my generation that began this slippery slope. We didn’t like the rules we had growing up and we relaxed them for our kids. Maybe the baby boomers got it wrong and the generations coming from them are experiencing the consequences. We took out spanking the kids when they broke the rules – I know; child abuse and all that – I get it. We have to be politically correct and not allow any mention of God in school life. No prayers; although I don’t remember prayers in my school at the time. But the things I grew up with, seemed to have gone away. School isn’t the same as it once was. I don’t know whose fault it really is but culture will not change any time soon. We’re too far down the slope to turn back now, right?

The real problem we’re facing is a heart problem. Somewhere along the way, the heart problem got more pronounced. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. We haven’t sown into the heart the ideas of right and wrong; of love and kindness; of respect for authority. We have gotten way off track. I think we started chasing the almighty dollar and left the family to fend for itself. The dollar has failed us. The family unit is no longer the same. When the family unit has been destroyed, so will the community as a whole. The threads of life are unraveling at a faster pace than ever before. It’s hard to get the family and the community back together again. And the systems are failing because of it.

So, what is the answer we are seeking? Yes, the correct answer is Jesus. However, the community needs the church to wake up to the problem. We need to stop chasing the dollar and start paying more attention to the family. We need to bring back the heart of Jesus’ message to the church and to the community. Love God and love one another. When we follow those commands, it will change the family and the community. It’s not a simple change. It’s a small ruder to turn this boat around.

The church has quite a bit of accountability for this slippery slope. We have allowed evil to reign in our communities and in our families. The church has to be more proactive instead of reactive. It’s not about our programs that will change this world. It’s about the heart of Jesus and showing it to others outside of our walls.

You do know who the church is, right? It’s you. And me. Anyone who follows Jesus has a part to play in solving this problem. And we need to get more involved – even if we don’t have kids – yes, I am talking to myself now. The light will dispel the darkness. We have to be out there showing the love of Jesus to those who have no idea He will change their lives – He will change their hearts. We can’t just talk about it anymore. We have to demonstrate it. Let others experience this love for themselves. It changes everything.

Maybe we need to experience it again too. Maybe we’re part of the problem. We have forgotten God’s love for us and we feel unloved as a whole. Are you on your knees? It’s time, church. We can make a difference. One child at a time. One family at a time. One community at a time. One state. One nation. One world. It’s our purpose. Let’s get on with it.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

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World Changer

Seven years ago this weekend, I had a major decision to make. I was given the opportunity to move into another area at work or leave my full-time job. It was a hard decision, but I chose to walk out in faith to do something new. I believed God had something else in mind. It had seemed over the last couple years of employment that circumstances made me more uncomfortable in that place. I felt God had positioned me to leave. Was it right or wrong, I second guess it every now and then. But during these last seven years, I think God did do something new – in me.

It’s not easy stepping out of full-time employment. Yes, I have had freedom to do what I wanted to do. However, with no real money coming in, resources are very limited as to what can be done. I made the comment a couple of years before I left my job that I just wanted to quit my job and write. Guess what? That’s the opportunity I was given when I quit – I started writing. I wrote two books within the first five years. I started this blog during that time as well. The last two years, I picked up part-time jobs to help pay the bills. Yet, I still feel like there is something waiting in the future that I just don’t see. After seven years, I really thought I would have the revelation by now. Here I sit still waiting.

One of the things God has been doing over these last seven years is work on me. He has changed my heart and changed my perspective on a few things. He has given me a greater thirst for Him and His Word. I have had a great opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him. I haven’t been perfect in my attendance or in my attention. However, He has been faithful to teach me right where I am. There have been many opportunities to grow closer to Him. I desire to be closer still. I need more of Him and less of me – I need to be emptied of my selfish desires. However, I struggle with it.

I just finished two books by the same author on Seven Great Men and Seven Great Women and the secrets of their greatness. Eric Metaxas picked men and women throughout modern history to reflect on what they did to change events in history. The men and women weren’t great because of who they were but what they did when they surrendered everything to Jesus. They emptied themselves of their selfish desires and totally surrendered their future to God.

Joan of Arc was the first woman the author introduced us to. I had read her story a couple of years ago – a peasant girl who changed France single-handedly led by the Spirit of God (her “voices”). George Washington was the first man and how he could have become king of this nation – it was his right to do so, but through providence he chose to begin something new. William Wilberforce changed his nation and the world by two significant choices – he chose to end slavery through legislation in Great Britain and he taught the world how to be kind again – it’s an interesting story and it changed the western world in both regards. Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks were two small women who changed their worlds. Jackie Robinson did the same when he broke the color barrier in sports.

We look back at how these men and women changed their worlds and wonder if it could be done again. These men and women didn’t set out to change their worlds. They just surrendered to Jesus and look what He did through them. They gave up their comfort to endure the storms and the battles that were waged spiritually in order to change the world. It seems impossible to believe that one person could do all that; and it was. There were many behind the scenes that didn’t get the notice, but supported the efforts and championed the cause. It’s not done alone. No one can withstand the storms or battles alone. We need each other. If there is a cause, it takes one person to notice; but it takes many to engage in the battle.

The last couple of weeks of December, I had this word before me. I don’t know what this word means for me or for my circumstances. Maybe it’s really not for me but what God is going to do and I can be a part of it. The word is multiply. What’s God going to do? How will God do it? Those are the million dollar questions, right?

I don’t know what 2018 will bring. But I do know that we all need each other to engage in the battle that God places before us. We may not get noticed by the world as world changers, but God knows what He has determined for us to join together to make a difference. Multiply. Maybe it’s the people He will bring together to change the world as we know it.

You know what it takes to do it? Surrender. That’s what these great men and women did. That’s what we are called to do for our generation. We have to finish what has been started and we need to finish well. This world is waiting for someone to step into the gap. Are you the one? Am I? How about we do it together?

As I began my journey years ago, God gave me this verse and it’s the verse I leave with you today. Let it encourage you for this year.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen
you and help you;
I will uphold you
with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

New Movement

Being a certified health nut, I listen to many speakers and read many articles concerning health. However, I have to discern what to keep and what to throw out based on the Truth that I know. For the last several years, I have been living a more holistic lifestyle – more is not always better. I read the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker that really opened my eyes to my consumer mentality. I went into cleaned up mode and purged my unused stuff, cleaning out the closets, also changing how I shop for items that I use. I think differently now about “stuff.” My eyes were also opened about sustainability.

When I read about sustainability, it really hit me as a follower of Jesus. I had never really thought about how we were the stewards of the earth in this day and time. It changed how I thought in regards to chemical use on my plants at home and on my plate; how I drink water – no water bottles if possible; using shopping bags instead of plastic bags, which seem to float through the air around every shopping center. Not to mention, the garbage dump in the ocean that is larger than Texas; clean water and food deserts that no governmental agency seems to fix. Poverty is everywhere, but if we bought responsibly maybe things could change for those communities.

Climate change is a hot topic right now. Is the earth getting hotter because of man or is it a part of God’s plan? However, we’re doing things now that are unsustainable – our natural resources are finite and eventually they will run out unless we switch to a new mindset. The governments of this world aren’t going to solve the problems. There are many “grass-root” efforts that are taking on the challenge to better this world. As followers of Jesus, we need to be involved. I am not a tree hugger, but we need our Amazonian rain forests – they are the lungs of this planet. We need to be instrumental in doing good – even for our planet.

There’s a lot of “new age” thought that I have to sort through to get to the truth, but one thing that stood out to me this week is this thought of a “trance” we are living in that we think we don’t have enough; it’s a scarcity mentality. Lynne Twist (Pachamama Alliance) mentioned in an interview that we used to be citizens, now we are consumers. We are supposed to keep money moving; however, we have been seduced into this trance of wanting more. We don’t know when we have had enough and it’s killing us and this earth. We need to wake up to the big lie that is keeping us from being responsible citizens of this world.

This trance that Lynne Twist mentioned is really a tool of the enemy. This really got me to thinking. Christians should be at the front of every movement to bring about change. Whether it is resources that need to be sustainable protected; using money to give a helping hand up (not a hand out); consuming products that are produced in a living wage environment as well as resourced ecologically and giving back to a community from where it came (this will end poverty in those places).

Whatever the cause, we should be moving the cause forward; holding a different conversation than the one being held today. We are not to find fault that leads to argument. We need to shift the conversation to the things that are working and make a model to replicate it elsewhere. We need this conversation today because it’s not going to get any better without us.

One day Jesus is going to return. According to Scripture, there will be a thousand-year reign on this earth – this earth, the way it is now or the way it will be if we don’t stop the destruction. We will not get a new heaven and a new earth until after the thousand years. I don’t know if we will have the ability to receive water from a rock or if we will have food that will once again be nutritious because the soil has been replenished by our responsible habits of organically grown produce and rotating crops.

We can see in the Book of Acts how the people helped each other – anyone who had need was helped by the ones who were able to meet the needs. In health circles, communities are seen as a good thing. Community is one of the ingredients for a healthy body. God created us for community. We are not meant to do these things alone. We need each other and we need a healthy earth to live on at least for another thousand years or so. We need to think differently about these things. We need to pay attention to what we use and throw away. We need to wake up from the enemy’s trance. These things should concern us and motivate us to be different. Are you out of the trance yet? Let’s wake up to the destruction and steward our resources well. It’s on us to make a better place for those coming behind us. Time to join the movement!

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
Genesis 1:26-28 (MSG)

Making a Difference

It’s very encouraging to watch the people in Texas come together and help one another during this disaster. After all the mess we’ve seen on television over the last few months, it’s good to see people banding together – no matter the race, no matter the political preference, no matter the economic status. Everybody was affected by this storm. People were walking away with nothing, but still praising God for saving their lives and their families. One lady looked right at the camera and told everyone “God is good, ya’ll.” Just that small testimony said it all. Even in the midst of the storm, God is still good.

The first part of the month, a family friend died. She was the oldest sister in this family. She was much older than me so I have very few memories of her. I only remember the teenage version of this lady. I never knew her as an adult. However, the son of this family is my age, and he has been the longest sustained friend of my life. We were crib mates in the nursery. There are many good memories of the things we did as children when our families got together. We haven’t been together as a family since we were both teenagers. Thanks to Facebook, we have reconnected. It’s through Facebook that I heard of the sister’s illness and then passing.

Many things were posted about this woman’s life. I went to the memorial service and came away with the feeling that I wish I had known her as an adult. According to the reflections offered by her family and friends, she loved life and lived it out loud and to the fullest. She was an amazing teacher – it wasn’t about the subject with her – she loved shaping these students into their potential. Students that had no hope to succeed became incredible adults. She was an adventurer; she loved to travel. She spent two years in Turkey, and it was mentioned these may have been the best years of her life.

It was said that she never met a stranger. She went back to Turkey a few years ago with her daughter and son-in-law and someone she knew from her time spent living there, spotted her on the street and called out her name. She was that impressive for people to remember her. She made a difference in people’s lives. Cancer cut her life short. The world has lost a friend. But she planted many seeds throughout her time here that will outlive her. She loved well.

We can all be like my friend. I wish I had known her as an adult. I wish a teacher had been there for me like she had been for her students. Maybe I wouldn’t have made the choices I made back then. And maybe I would have found my calling earlier. But it is God’s timing in all things.

We can all make a difference in someone’s life. We can help out our communities even when there is no disaster. We can love well and plant the seeds of hope around us. Wouldn’t that be a better world to live in? We need to realize this life is really short, ya’ll. And God is good all the time, no matter what is going on around us. God loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. We need to believe that in our heart, mind and soul. We need to drive it deep.

When we grieve, He grieves with us. He is personal with us, knows us and loves us anyway. Each member of the human race is an image bearer of God Himself. We need to respect that and respect each human being on this planet. If there is no respect, all hell breaks loose as its doing today. We need to make a difference. We need to plant seeds and love well. This is my prayer today. For the people of the disaster, my prayer for them is to see God’s glory making good out of something so bad.

Trust Him in the process, ya’ll. He is our good, good Father. He will do amazing things, and He’ll let us be involved where He is involved. It’s possible, ya’ll. The Apostle Paul said it well, all things are possible through Christ’s strength, not ours – no matter what. Let’s make a difference today and love someone well.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

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