Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Too Much Emotion

I admit it. I’m Emo sometimes. I like things to go my way and if they don’t I get pouty and annoying. I mope around and sigh and generally make everyone else miserable in the process. Sadly, this behavior isn’t only directed toward other people. I also find myself treating God this way.
How many times have I cried, “Not fair!” Then I proceeded to pout and complain about how God doesn’t love me and I can never catch a break. Isn’t that the same selfish behavior I am ashamed to see myself use on other people, and now I am using it on God. Not that it will get me very far.
God is just, loving, and unchanging. He doesn’t respond to pouting and foot stomping. He doesn’t fall for reverse psychology. However, He does listen to what I have to say—no matter what attitude I say it in. He does keep His promises. He does fulfill His will in my life. He even uses my mistakes and bad choices and bad attitudes to shape the person I am going to become. See He’s got it all together even if I don’t!
“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19
STOP your pouting!
START trusting God.
LIVE a full life based on God’s promises.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Big Picture People

Have you ever met that one person who cannot see past the next ten minutes of the day? Everything is dramatic and the world is always coming to an end. Oh wait! We all know teenagers! Sadly, many adults live this way too.

As Christians, God calls us to be big picture people. That doesn’t mean that we have everything planned out to the letter for the next twenty years of our lives (read the dangers of this in James 4), but it does mean thinking of more than the moment. I think you could make a valid case that all successful individuals practice big picture perspective.

When people with big picture perspective encounter choices, crisis, opportunities, and struggles they stop for a minute to think. Before making any decisions they think, “What consequences good or bad could come from how I handle this situation?” Teenagers are notorious for rushing headlong into situations without a moments thought.

For example, if Andrew wants to get a tattoo he should stop and ask himself a few questions. Will I still want this tattoo when I 30+? Is my chosen location for the tattoo appropriate for my future career choice? *Side Note: I know some churches and other ministry employers that will not hire if you have a tattoo at all let alone if you have one on your face!* But many people don’t stop to give these questions and others any consideration.

This lack of big picture perspective has corroded so many things in our lives. Our rash decisions from the past are haunting us now. We regret the people we’ve dated, the jobs we’ve taken, or the places we have lived. Yes, God uses these choices to help us to learn and to influence the person we have become, but just think of the pain and regret that could have been avoided with just a little bit of thought!

Take 5 minutes today and think about how the decisions you are making could be affecting your future. You might be surprised at what you discover!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fulfilling Your Destiny

Over the next couple of months our youth group will be preparing for their third mission trip together. This year we are going into inner city Memphis, Tennessee. We will be ministering to children, youth, and adults who are in a much worse place than many of our students have ever seen. We are going to strive not only to meet these individuals’ physical needs, but their spiritual ones as well. With each sack lunch we hand out we want to tell someone about Jesus. With each hug, we want to show someone His love. With each service project we do we want to let people know that Jesus can meet their daily needs. In order to prepare for this emotionally and physically tasking environment, we require our youth and adults to participate in mission trip training sessions. Our first mission training session was yesterday.

During this time, we talked briefly about fulfilling the purpose for which God created us – our destiny. Did you know that man was created to glorify God? Well he was. This is our ultimate purpose and destiny. We are to bring glory to God. One way we do this is by telling other people about God and the greatness of God. It is not without reason that the Bible says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isa. 52:7). When we fulfill our destiny by bringing people the Good News we are beautiful! We bring joy and fulfillment and blessing. Not only do we bring these things to others but we receive these things as well!

Telling people about Christ isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s downright scary. Did God set us up to fail? No way! Thankfully, where God guides He also provides. Jeremiah, the youngest prophet in the Old Testament, felt this fear and uncertainty when God called him to go and tell the people of Israel what His will for them was. Jeremiah didn’t know what to do and he felt afraid that when he got there he would freeze and not know what to say. In Jeremiah 1:6 he says, “‘Ah, Sovereign LORD,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.’” What I want to focus on is God’s response to Jeremiah. Listen and take this to heart because it is as true for us today as the day He spoke these words to Jeremiah.

“But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now, I have put my words in your mouth.’” Jeremiah 1:7-9

God promised Jeremiah that He would be with him every step of the way and He gave Jeremiah the words to speak. So if you want to fulfill your destiny, all you have to do is take a step of faith and go tell someone about Jesus trusting that God will keep His promise to be with you and that He will give you the words to speak.

Go fulfill your destiny!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A to B not A to Z

Last night I was thinking about Abraham. I don’t know if I should consider him lucky or feel sorry for him. Okay, let me explain. Very seldom does God tell you what the end result is going to be. God told Abraham from the beginning He would make a great nation from him and that his descendants would be as numerous as the sands on the sea shore (Gen. 12:2). Therefore I consider Abraham very lucky. However, God left him hanging on the details. He didn’t tell Abraham how this was going to happen or when it was going to happen. It wasn’t until much later and after a few wrong turns that God finally tells him that it is Isaac He would use to fulfill His promises (Gen. 21:12). It is the feeling of the unknown, “limbo” if you will, which makes me feel sorry for Abraham.

I have seen these very same patterns repeated in my life. When I encounter these issues, I find myself fortunate to have received God’s promises, but then I become impatient with the unknown and begin to feel sorry for myself.

There has only been one instance in my life where I feel I was completely able to trust God through all the steps without complaining, whining, or being impatient. Of course this was partly because things progressed very quickly. It’s now that I have to stop and remember that God never promised to give me all the details A to Z. He did however promise to walk me through from A to B then B to C then C to D, etc.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (also vs. 6)

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

Isn’t it amazing that God’s our every insecurity! I truly feel that although these verses were explicitly meant for the people God gave them to He also meant them for me. He knows just how nervous I get when I don’t have everything figured out. He knows the stress that I feel when things are out of my control. He also knows that I need to let go. He is there walking with me each and every day. He is waiting for me to trust Him in the day to day A to B activities so He can fully blow my mind with the A to Z. If I cannot appreciate where I am today and learn the daily lesson God has for me, how can I expect to grasp the big picture?
Pray for me to let go and trust God. I will pray the same for you. It’s so simple and yet so incredibly hard! Yet the reward is more than worth it!

Grace and Peace,


Friday, May 7, 2010

Anniversary Celebrations

Yesterday, Jimmy and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. We had made some last minute change of plans since we weren’t able to take the big trip we had planned. Jimmy was so cute when he decided that he wanted everything to be a surprise. It was kind of a challenge because I do most of the driving in our relationship and when we got into the van last night, I still had no clue where we were going. That’s a scary thought when you are driving around in St. Louis traffic.

All the unknown and jitters made for an extra exciting evening. I think this was the first time I have not known any of the details since our very first date! It was cool. When Jimmy had finally directed me to our destination, we were at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Chesterfield. I knew as soon as we got there that he had picked this restaurant especially for me. Jimmy doesn’t even like spaghetti! (He does like alfredo sauce though so I knew he would be in good shape.) It was nice to know that he had truly put me first the whole night.

Yeah, marriage is hard work, but it can be oh so rewarding. Without the work we can never fully appreciate the good moments. They are precious and priceless!

Thank you, Jimmy, for making our fourth anniversary truly special and for all the little things you do to show me you love me each and every day. I am glad that God brought us together. You are amazing!

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Working with People

The hardest part of life, work, and ministry…hands down…is working with people. People are crabby, impatient, imperfect, cranky, hard to please, demanding, selfish…need I go on? I think you get the picture. Yeah, sometimes people are great. On those days everything is great. The question is,

“How do you work with people when things aren’t great?”

Christiana’s Keys for Working with People
1. Be Patient
2. Show them the Love of God
3. Treat them how you would want to be treated

Be Patient
“A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.” Proverbs 14:29
“A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

I know, this is easier said than done, but this doesn’t make it any less important. God shows us patience daily, hourly, and sometimes minute by minute. If God wasn’t patient, He would have wiped the earth clean of mankind a long, long time ago. He even thought about it a few times, but in the end He chose to show patience mixed with grace and mercy.

Show Them the Love of God
“You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 5:43-46

A couple of weeks ago, I had a run in with a man on a motorcycle. My husband and I were driving home and were preparing to exit the highway when a guy on a motorcycle must have thought that I cut him off on purpose. Needless to say, he did not re-act very well. He sped up to be equal with Jimmy’s window and began cursing and flipping us the bird. Not satisfied with the reaction he received, he proceeded to pull in front of us and slam on his brakes. This continued for about 5 minutes and I almost rear-ended him several times. All the while he was still cussing up a storm and giving us profane hand signals. Finally, satisfied that he had traumatized us enough he sped off into the distance and we were able to safely exit the highway and proceed home.

I was really shook up by this encounter. I was thankful that God allowed me the presence of mind to keep an even temper and to not give the man’s poor behavior back to him. By the time he left I was really ready to rear end him. If I had done that it wouldn’t have brought any glory to God and could have caused serious injury to the man on the bike as well as Jimmy and I. I did my best to show him the love of God by not getting upset or cursing or flipping him off or hitting him or calling the cops. Hopefully he will someday learn about the love of Christ and will begin showing others the grace of God.

Treat Them How You Want to Be Treated
“The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

We have all heard the Golden Rule. Did you know that it comes from the Bible? I could go on and on and on about the way that Bible permeates pop culture without people even knowing it, but that’s a tangent and I will save it for another time. Anyway, this is a good rule of thumb on how to deal with other people. Seriously, why would you treat someone else in a way that you yourself would hate?! Yet, we do it ALL the time! I know that I really need to work on this principle. If we treated others with the same kindness, deference, esteem, and respect that we show ourselves then there wouldn’t be any wars or fighting or world hunger or people taking advantages of others. Wouldn’t that be great?

Christiana's Challenge to You
This week let’s start practicing patience, start showing others the love of God, and start treating others how we would want to be treated. It can only make the world better!