Some people tell me because I believe in Science along with God, I’m not a real Christian. I believe in the Science that masks, washing hands, washing surfaces, and limiting close contact with people will keep us healthy. I believe that even a 2% death rate is too much. I believe the world can reopen if everyone would follow that plan but since so many people are too selfish to follow the rules, we have no choice but to be closed. I believe if masks were not healthy, surgeons, fencers, and dentists would have been dying in droves long before this started.
I believe the people in our world are too selfish to look beyond themselves to do anything slightly inconvenient. That’s the real plague hitting our world. I also believe until people start doing things to help people, this will be here until we start coming back loving each other how God wanted in the same way the Plagues in Exodus just kept coming until the Pharaoh finally did the right thing.
Some say I’m not a real Christian because I am pro-choice. Even though John 6-8 from The Message reminds us: “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone”. For my body, I am pro-life. I wish everyone would be pro-life, but I also understand some people are in terrible situations where that just may not be possible. For those people, I love them and support them making the most difficult choice ever.
I am not without sin, I will not judge them for theirs. Instead, I will love them and fight to protect them from the unfair stones coming their way. I also do not understand how the people from the previous paragraph can be ok with 2% of sick people of dying but still yell all lives matter and pro-life is in the only way. Sounds more “Pro-birth” than Pro-life to me. Especially when we treat the poor, oppressed, foreign-born people so horribly.
Some say I am wrong for believing immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers deserve to be welcomed. With a hot meal, a warm bed, and a chance to live a life away from the dangerous parts they came from just as the book of Matthew instructs. These are families who have taken their babies through war zones to protect them and give them a good life. They are not a threat to our lives. They are brothers and sisters seeking a better life.
Many of them are the same people so many vacation mission trips swear they love and want to help so badly. If you can love them when you get to work in the Dominican, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico when you get to visit and work in paradise – why can’t you love them the same when they come here? Is it really about the mission then? Or boosting your ego on social media while getting a tan and visiting paradise? I believe we should love people and help them everywhere. Especially when they are on our own doorsteps. It’s literally what Revelation 3:14-20 was written for.
Some say I’m not a real Christian believe I believe love is love. Love is for everyone. Honestly, I think we got Leviticus 18:22 all wrong. The flawed human who interpreted those words then wrote it down clearly misunderstood something. I do not believe our God, so full of love, would ever say true love is wrong. He would not promote hate. He would certainly not teach us to judge, shun, and treat people unjustly over their love. I believe God Himself felt so seriously about it, He sent his son down to clear it all up for us with actual words from His own mouth in John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This isn’t rocket science. Its a new commandment, one that covers the whole Bible and the whole world forever. Love everyone as Jesus loves you.
You sin, I sin, we all sin yet God and Jesus love us. That’s how He tells us to conduct ourselves and the only way people will know we are His disciples. By loving people how we are loved. Full of grace and forgiveness. During hard times, happy times, scary times, sad times – all of the times! I searched those verses in multiple Bibles looking for the * pointing out it applied to everyone except gay people, and guess what? It wasn’t there. Not in NIV, KJV, The Message, NLT, ESV, NKJV, or anywhere. They all say it clear as day.
Love everyone as Jesus loves you. THAT is how the world knows you’re a Chrisitian. That is what I’m trying to do.
I don’t worry about anyone who thinks giving love and demanding justice for all the people of the world makes me less of a Christian. Their judgement doesn’t matter to me nor should it matter to you. It’s hard some days when you feel like you’re in the minority and surrounded by hate, but you’re doing exactly what we were all asked to before Jesus left.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am with them”
~ Matthew 18:20 (NLV)
Online Church isn’t the same. But its still good. In fact, its better than good – its great. At least we live in a time where this is an option to help us all be connected. It isn’t safe for us to gather so many people together. We need to stop the spread of illness. This Coronavirus is scary and serious.
CDC guidelines, State mandates, and other words my eyes quickly skimmed led me to a sentence I never thought I’d read in an email from my church. Church services in our building are canceling until May 17. We’ll have online service options with a few leaders and a devotional during the week. Facebook, email, and our website will update you.
I know we’re not the only church dealing with this. You are probably feeling as numb as I am. No, I don’t make it to church every week but the idea of it being gone for two months feels like someone punching me in the stomach. I cried. I cried and I prayed again for help and comfort for us all right now. Then Matthew 18:20 came to mind.
I love the whole verse, especially now, but today my heart was drawn specifically to the word “where”.
I always viewed this verse to mean as long as people are physically together in some place that place can be a place of worship. It can be Holy. The woods, the beach, the lake, the mountains, my kitchen, your living room, someone’s yard, a table at a pub, or a crowded arena can all be places for God if our intentions are set on Him. The “where” wasn’t limited just to the church building as long as we were all together some place.
This is different though. Our “where” now requires us to not be physically together in any format. So now what? Does the internet count as “a place”?
The most common definition for “where” in the dictionary is “in or to what place or position.” It speaks about a specific location. That’s how I’ve always looked at it and why I felt so unsettled at first. However, if you keep reading there is another definition I think applies to where we all are right now:
where (adverb): the place or situation in which.
The place or situation in which. The situation in which. If that doesn’t apply to how we’re all experiencing life and worship right now, I don’t know what does. If we slide that version into the verse, instead of just leaning on the word “where” so heavily, this verse becomes the cornerstone of this new “social distancing” worship style we need to embrace.
For the situation in which two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am with them
~ Matthew 18:20
No matter where we are, if we are connecting with each other during this situation, He is with us. Our worships will be different than in the past, but the core practice of people who love God learning about him and loving each other are there. The building and proximity to our church family does not make a church. The people and their willingness to find God and each other in creative ways no matter the circumstances does.
Online church isn’t the same. But its still good. Its our time to look at things a little differently and learn new things about ourselves and those around us. Online church isn’t the same but it will still be good. It will still be church.
“And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”
I love this verse. It is something both hopeful and reminiscent to me. Something I can relate to easily. I remember the playdoh of my childhood. The smell, the squishy feelings, and the fun tools seemed to give life to unlimited possibilities of what I could create. I would recreate my favorite foods (I make a mean playdoh pepperoni pizza) or the required craft of little girls of the 1980’s: a rainbow. I always tried so hard get the color rows the same width for equal uniform bands in my sculptures.
Sometimes it worked out, sometimes not. And that is the beauty of playdoh: you can make something beautiful over and over again, fixing the mistakes, and it never stops allowing you to change its shape.
When I finished something, I’d leave it be for awhile. Enjoying its brightness, proud of my creation, and sometimes use it in some fantastic story play. Eventually, it would be time dismantle my creations – whether it be that I was tired of them, needed to “fix” something, or it was time to clean up for the day. I’d take the pieces apart, trying to keep the colors separated, and squish them into their containers for another day. The creations were no longer there but the PlayDoh was ready for next time. For the possibilities and great ideas I’d bring to it next.
I didn’t hate the PlayDoh. I didn’t hate my creations. I didn’t pack it up because I thought what I made was terrible and I couldn’t stand to look at it. Quite the contrary. I squished it all down because I saw how I could make it better. Or because the day’s plan called for it to lose its shape into the containers for awhile before I could bring new life to it with my next fantastic plan.
As I’ve grown, those feelings have come back when I read Isaiah 64. We are more than clay to God. We are His precious creations that He is so fond of. He formed you tenderly with His own hands and loves to look at proudly. You are valued, treasured, loved, wanted, and important. And, like any child or potter with their clay, sometimes even God needs to make changes to His creations for whatever part of life we’re entering into next.
He needs to break us down sometimes to build us back up into something better. Any potter will tell you, sometimes you have to bring your creations back down to nothing and start over. To help it be better. To improve your design. To make sure it’s ready for the purpose you have in mind for it. What looks like and feels like destruction is actually the start of something great.
It’s hard to see it in the moment. When you look around and see your life slowly being torn down. The clay of your being slowly caving in on itself until all that is left is a mound of shapeless you. Without a solid base, strong form, clear design, or obvious purpose. These moments often come with little to no warning, leaving you scrambling to understand why. Wondering what area of you needed the improvement and what you can do to help things along.
I know these feelings all too well. I am there with you. Lying on the potter’s wheel and feeling it slowly spin. Just enough that my form is staying a cohesive lump and not merely falling flat, but not fast enough that I feel any changes or growth.
It’s hard to be in this place. I liked how I was before this. After many years of struggles and insecurities, I was finally reaching a point in life where things were mostly happy, stable, and satisfying. Of course I wished I could drop 20 pounds or win the lotto and work a little less, but if someone had asked me how my life was going the answer would have been: wonderfully.
Clearly, I was wrong. There were areas in my life and in my soul that needed attention. They needed more work and some reforming, so like a skilled potter, God has taken me back down to the wheel. All of me is still here, in this shapeless lump. He’s starting to rebuild me with some improvements that are hard right now but will be so wonderful when they’re done.
I thought I was comfortable in my skin. Perhaps I was to an extent or more than I used to be, but the last six months have made it clear to me that there was room for improvement. The moment I came face to face with someone that was thinner than me, prettier than me, and living a life I wanted – I fell apart. I stopped eating. I stopped functioning at all. Everything I thought I had gotten past from years of previous hurts from multiple people was still there. I hadn’t moved on from anything, just ignored it and kept going with life.
That’s the thing about potters and God: no matter how much their creation seems finished they can see the areas that need some work, even if the rest of us can’t. They know how to fix it, how to slowly build it back up, form it, and give it new life. I couldn’t see the flaw buried deep inside myself, but God knew. He knew it was holding me back from being a strong and complete as He wants me to be.
The hard part is being patient while He does His work. Letting go of control or preconceived ideas of how God should fix us or our situation. I am beyond guilty of feeling that He is taking too long or not doing things right. And by right, of course, I mean how I want them done. I am not sure when I started to think that I knew all the answers and I know how my life should go, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks these things.
You probably do too. This impatience is just one more flaw He’s working on at the pottery wheel with me. Shaping me and holding me in place until I can start to fully let go and trust in his process. He can’t finish making all the improvements to me until I can calm down and let Him make a solid foundation. One only He knows how to make.
That’s really hard for me. I’m a doer and a fixer and a very impatient person. This is trying all of my patience and then some. I see those who have hurt me living comfortably and seemingly without pain while I struggle to get through the day.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.” – Psalm 37:7-8
But of course, God knows what He is doing. He knows the plans for me and how He will make them happen. My job isn’t to tell him how to do this. My job is to give and take with each loving knead He makes in me. To grow, shift, and change as things around me do; all under His watchful eye.
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” Matthew 10:8
We’re gathering next week for Christmas. Time spent with our family and friends. We come together because Jesus was born. We celebrate his birth for all He brought to us: love, healing, and forgiveness. We talk a good game this time of year, but how often do we dig deep to freely give love and healing to others?
Eleven months out of the year, most of us rush through life relatively laser focused on our needs. Its human nature, we’re all guilty from time to time. Then in December we throw a small gift in a can or change in a kettle to warm our hearts. But what about the people who were struggling before December? What about the families who were torn apart for reasons outside of their control? What about the peopke doing the wirk and doing their best who will need help far beyond the Christmas season?
We want to celebrate Jesus’ birth with presents and decorations, but what about celebrating his life through loving, helping, and giving? Society complains when single parents (especially dads) don’t step up to support their kids. We complain when they don’t work as hard as we think they should to support their kids. We rant and rave far too often about all the people who do things we do not agree with that we lose sight of the people who quietly step up and do the right thing day in and day out.
Kenan Harris is one of those people. I am honored to know and work with him. Kenan is a single father to an 11 year old boy (his son’s mother passed away when he was baby). Kenan is a family man who loves God and country. A veteran of the US Army, he works 70 hour weeks to support his son and raise him to be a man of strong character.
He doesn’t do it flashy, he doesn’t look for praise. He shows up to quietly do what’s right and spread his positive outlook. He does it all because its the right thing to do.
Its our turn to step up for him and anyone else in a similar position. To say thank you. To show his son that people care and doing the right thing, like his father does, will always come back to you.
An 11 year old kid shouldn’t be without his parent on Christmas. We shouldn’t allow it to happen without giving what we can to fund his trip or spread the news that they need help.
You were given love, no questions asked. Its time to pass it on.
I had no idea 2 years ago when I started diving deep into my Bible journaling and studying what the next 18 months had in store for me. Marriage struggles (we’re good now), financial problems (also good), parenting challenges (still doing our best), depression dive (I’m in my comeback!), deaths close to us, sickness around us, and struggles for people we love. I have been through hard times before but 2018 and 2019 may have been the hardest years on my heart to date.
I came across many verses which continue to help me when I struggle and I am still finding new ones all the time. Even new meanings in old ones as I read them again. However, in 2017 I found two in Colossians and Thessalonians which speak to my heart so strongly here in 2019 that I wanted to share them with you. Both are really great books to read this time of the year, in my opinion; full of beauty, hope, thankfulness, and truth. A little like me.
Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace and always be thankful.”
I look around the world, my state, my town, my office, my church, my family and I can find people I agree with fully. People who stand for what I do and stand up to what I do also. I love those people. They are easy to get along with, to be thankful for, and to work closely with. They fill my heart.
I can also find plenty of people in each of these places I do not agree with at all. I find their stances to be unfair to many, hurtful, based in exclusion, omission, and rejection. Hearing them talk makes me want to cry for the world and apologize to my children. Sometimes, I actually do. I struggle to work with them and be thankful for their work in the world. They break my heart.
There are also many people who walk the fine line between filling and breaking my heart. These are the people I love so dearly and support in so many ways, yet cannot understand how their heart sees the world’s issues how they are. I am roughly 50-75% thankful for these people at a glance, depending on if they are doing what I like or not in a given moment. They confuse my heart.
Colossians 3:15 was an epic wake up call for me (also, if you really want to think about the body of Christ idea, check out this sermon from my church recently!). We are all different. We are not all the same parts, which can lead to some issues, but need to live in peace. We need to be thankful for the people around us. I do not agree on many things with a friend who spends a lot of time volunteering at a veteran’s hospital. He’s doing good, even all of his work isn’t what I want. People I wish would open their eyes to causes around the world volunteer at their churches to help the hungry. I’m thankful for that.
We don’t have to agree to be thankful for one another.
Thessalonians 5:18 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
How hard is this one? I stared at this one for a long time when I first came upon it. It’s hard to be grateful in hard times. I think its only human to see the bad at face value. It’s easy to get lost in the sadness, hopelessness, and darkness surrounding hard times. If you’re anything like me, the easy path is the preferred one whenever possible. Life is hard enough without volunteering yourself for more, right?
In this case, that couldn’t be more wrong. Being down, brings you down further. Letting the sadness get too far, lets the depression sneak in and take over. Losing sight of the goodness and being thankful makes life a long, miserable sentence. Even in the hard times, there is something good in each day.
Every night for as long as I can remember, I ask my daughter at bedtime “What was something kind someone did for you? And what is something kid you did for someone?”. Some nights she’s got more than one answer for each question queued up for me. Some nights she bursts into tears and we need to talk a bit to come up with two answers together. Some days are better than others.
The point of this verse and the point I’m trying to make to her is this: there is something good in every day. Sometimes we have to look harder than others, but it’s there. Find it. Don’t let the hard times or sad times win.
There are so many more, I could go on, but go find them for yourself. This year? I’m thankful for you, for healing, for my family, my friends, my job, my health, my cat, and all the hard things I have been able to overcome. I’m ready for whatever is next.
The best Back to School Bible Verses to get you through the start of the year! Whether you’re missing summer vacation already (that’s me!) or sighing with relief as the school bus pulls away – these verses are perfect reminders for you AND your kids to get through the days! By no means is it a complete list but here are the best back to school Bible verses I like to lean on!
Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Have a little faith, mommas. You’re raising great kids with great hearts. They know right from wrong. They will make make you proud. These lessons will carry on throughout their school days and lives. Keep up the good work
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
As long as there is school, kids will face hurdles. Bombing a test, not making the team, or being left out will hurt and leave them feeling discouraged. It’s hard on your momma heart to watch them struggle, but remember the growth they are going through (you too!).
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
Don’t gossip or bully. Never let the world harden your heart or take you off track. Find your passion, find your goal, and chase after it.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Starting anything new, even if it’s something as routine as school, can be scary. So can navigating friends, hard classes, and the unavoidable struggles that come with the territory. Remind your kids they aren’t alone and they will be ok, even if they’re sitting solo on a bus or at a lunch table. Remind yourself also they will be ok even without you by their side. They aren’t alone.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Be a good person. Do good things. Be in control of yourself.
Luke 6:31 “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
Be the nice kid. Be the good you want to see. Easy peasy.
Proverbs 15:5 “A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.”
Parents are stupid. Mine were when I was a kid and now, it appears, I am equally as stupid to my kids some days. I think that’s just the way of the world in most cases. However, I wish I’d listened more – they did know what they were talking about – and I try to remind my kids daily I’ve been where they are and can save them some struggles if they listen to my words or wisdom (or stories of epic failure – just learn from me!).
Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
If you’re like me, the idea of sending your kids out into the world without you can be scary at times. I’m struggling extra with the middle school kid right now – that age is weird, this world is scary, and I just can’t even yet!!! I just remind myself they’re good people and will stick to that path we’ve started them on!
Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
I know some of your classes are boring and the homework is stupid. Bedtime is lame and dinner is disgusting. I had all the same issues when I was your age going to school, so I totally get it. But have a little faith and trust me. I do it in your best interest just like grandma did it in mine.
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
Oh my sweet children. I see so much goodness in you. If more adults looked at the world through your eyes and with your heart, it would be a better place. Please don’t lose that and don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young or don’t know enough to make a difference. Keep living your awesome lives so you can show the world what is possible with kindness!
What are your Best Back to School Bible verses for your kids or your momma heart?
“God delights when truth reigns in our inmost being.” – Psalm 51:6
Recognizing this truth in your life is freeing. I have been struggling with this for a long time, but now in my 40th year (still only 39 though!) I am starting to understand. . Discover what makes your heart happy and do it. Do you feel you alone, not enough, or unfulfilled? I do. But its fading thanks to one simple realization: Live a life you love.
Everyone is not your friend
You want to be accepted and loved – I get it. I do too, but sometimes, its just not possible and we need to accept that. We are not for everyone. That’s ok. Not everyone is for us. That’s ok too.
There are over 7.53 billion on this planet, we would all need way bigger porches if all these people were all our people. Thank you God for not asking me to host that Thanksgiving meal – thinking of the menu is giving me hives.
Why do we try to make everyone “our people” even if it means changing who we are? It doesn’t make sense. Its a lie. Living a lie will never fill your heart. You will never find peace or happiness. God delights when truth reigns over our decisions.
You do you.
I know not all people like my writing – that’s ok. I mean, they’re crazy because I’m awesome, but its their loss, not mine. They roll their eyes, whisper remarks, and straight up talk crap – it happens. It used to cut me deep, still does sometimes, until I stopped worrying about them and focused on loving me. Seek the things and dreams that make you happy. Discern the voices that matter, discard those that don’t. Reveal your heart and happiness to the world. Diminish other’s control over your life by focusing on what feels true and honest to you.
Live your life loved and authentically for you. God delights when truth reigns in your life. No one else has the right to decide who you are.