Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reminders of Why we Need Community

In the last few weeks, I've had a few reminders of the value of community. The value of the community I've built around me. Of our need for a community where we can turn when things are hard and who are there to celebrate the good in life too.

So many examples of why we need community . . .

. . . After a challenging ministry weekend, I had people to talk to when I was struggling with something that came up for me out of it.

. . . When I'd had a long and challenging week, I had people who stopped to listen and pray for me right there.

. . . When we all needed a good laugh, I had people where we could really laugh together.

. . . When I needed an outside perspective on some things, I had someone who I trusted to offer it.

. . . When silence and a being with others with no expectations was needed, I had a few people to spend that time with for a weekend.

As I look back on these times, and so many more I could list, I'm grateful for these people in my life. I can't imagine what my life would be like without them. I know I wouldn't be writing this.

I know that I write often about our need for one another. I think in our individualistic society, it's a reminder we constantly need. As much as I know from these and other experiences how much it's needed, I still need the reminder regularly.

God created us to need each other - in the good times and the hard times. No matter how hard we try, we'll never be able to change that truth.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

We Need Silence - Even if it Scares Us


It's something we talk about wanting more of in our lives. It often seems elusive.

Yet, in the moments when we do find it, we don't know what to do. We experience it so rarely that we're almost afraid when it happens.

Especially in our world of constant connection, it can be difficult to find silence. Our phones continually reminding us of every email, every text, right as they arrive. Drawing us away from the moment and out of any chance of silence for any time.

Why do we live with this struggle?

Why do we crave silence and run from it at the same time?

We crave silence because we were made to need it. We weren't made to be in constant contact. We need the true rest that can only come from silence.

But, those are the times when we come face-to-face with things we may not like about ourselves, our relationships, or our lives. As long as we keep moving and keep busy, we don't have to face those things. But, as soon as it slows down, we all of a sudden have to look at those things. We can no longer avoid them.

We need to learn to embrace the times of silence in our lives. Even to become intentional about creating that space, rather than running from it.

It will be hard and uncomfortable at first. We may want to be anywhere else, do anything else. But, if we'll stick with it, it will be worth it. We can get to the point of embracing silence, of regularly creating it. And our lives will be better for it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trusting . . . Even When the Way Isn't Clear

I'm one of those people who likes to know how it's going to turn out before it happens. I want to have a guaranteed outcome before I begin.

But, life rarely allows for that.

Often, we have to begin before we have any idea of what it's going to turn out like. We have to step out only knowing what direction to step in, not even always knowing whether we'll be putting our foot down on firm ground with that step.

The clearest example of this I can think of, it the well-known story of Peter walking on water, found in Matthew 14:22-33.

The disciples were out on the water in a boat. They were struggling to keep going as they fought a storm. Then they see someone coming toward them, walking on the water. They're understandably afraid. Jesus reassures them it's Him, and they don't need to be afraid. Peter responds with a request to walk on water too if it's really Jesus. Jesus tells him to come.

It would be easy to keep on running to the end of this familiar story right now. But, stop for a moment. Put yourself in Peter's shoes.

You impulsively declared that if it was really Jesus walking on the water, you wanted to walk to Him on the water. He told you to come.

How do you respond? Do you just as quickly jump over the side of the boat? Or are you more cautious now? Did you really expect He would tell you to come? Do you really believer you'll be able to walk on water?

Peter gets down out of the boat. He's walking on the water. When he put his foot down to the water, he didn't know how firm where he was putting his foot would be until he took the step of faith.

The same was true of every step he took on the water. Each one was a step of faith. And, as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, each step on unstable ground was sure. The steps were no longer sure when he took his eyes off Jesus.

Often, we find ourselves in similar situations. Jesus is calling us to come, but we can't know for sure what each step of that journey will be like. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus and take the first step, then the second, the third, and each one after that. As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, we'll be able to stand on sure ground, no matter what it actually is.

If we take our eyes off Jesus, we'll be on unstable ground, and we can fall. Jesus calls us to keep our eyes on Him and trust Him with each step - even when we don't know the outcome.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Our True Identity

Apparently today is International Women's Day . . .

It may come as strange to some since I am a woman, but I had no idea this day existed, until I was overwhelmed by it on my Facebook newsfeed today. As I watched the vast array of posts that appeared in my feed, I wrestled with a lot of thoughts and feelings.

What does it mean to be a woman in the culture I live in? In the communities I'm a part of?

Does this line up with what Scripture says a woman of God should be like? What should it look like to live as a woman of God according to Scripture?

I read things today about the intent of International Women's Day being about equality in all things for women. And I know that in many parts of the world there's a long way to go in that regard. But, I struggled with some of the militant, "women are better than men" sentiment that I saw expressed in some places today. I don't think that's helpful in any way.

I also don't think that's biblical. Everywhere I look in Scripture, I see both men and women valued, used by God, and gifted by God. It's not about one being better than the other. We may be different, but we all have value and worth before God. We're all God's children - ones He loved enough to go to the greatest of lengths to rescue and redeem.

That's what really matters. We can get confused when we seek our identity elsewhere, and we can get off track and start seeing other people as our competition. But, we need to go back to what really matters.

Yes, that means where there is injustice, we need to fight for justice. Where things aren't right, we need to work to make them right.

But, no where does that mean, we need to try to make ourselves better than others.