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Can I Wear Your Sweater?

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I went back to school to finish my undergrad while my children were still in preschool. Night classes were a simple solution, but it meant some nights away from my children. So, during my breaks between classes, I would call home to say good-night.

My daughter was barely three years old and many times she would be upset that mommy was not there to tuck her in at night. I would remind her that Daddy was a good bedtime story teller and “tucker inner”.

My daughter would sigh and tell me, “But Daddy doesn’t smell like you”.

It is true that we each have our own fragrance. It seems to be as unique as our DNA. When we were first married, we had a dog who used to steal our socks. But she preferred to steal the ones that were dirty and smelled like us. I guess little children are sort of like dogs. I would come home at night and find my daughter wrapped in my sweater.

“It smells like you, Mommy”, she would tell me. Somehow my fragrance brought her peace and comfort.

St Paul calls Christ followers the “fragrance of Christ”. Christians are called to walk closely with God and clothe themselves with Christ. When we clothe ourselves with Christ, we smell like Him. And if we smell like Him, maybe we can help usher in some peace.

Therefore, let us clothe ourselves with Christ. Let us clothe ourselves with His compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, and let us become the fragrance of Christ.

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Dream Big!

Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. ~ Daniel 2:28

Christians have stopped dreaming.  In the days of the Book of Acts, the Apostles and other disciples believed that God desired to pour out His Spirit and power on the world.  They believed the Kingdom of God was at hand.  There have been times throughout the last 2000 years when Christians have been renewed and revived with this same truth.  But we have begun to wane.  Mostly we have limited our faith to the next life.

Yet, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He still desires to pour out His Spirit and power.  And He still wants to work His will through His people.  We have stopped dreaming that Christians have been given the power and the assignment to do great things here.  God desires to raise up His own children to find cures for cancer, a vaccine for AIDS, solve unclean drinking water problems, and find eco-friendly energy sources.  He wants to empower His children to heal marriages, feed the poor, clothe the naked, and fight injustice.

Why has our generation stopped dreaming?  We have stopped praying prayers that require faith and a miracle of God.  We have stopped believing that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is available now!  We are not even sure if the miracles of the Bible happened anymore.  And we wonder why Book of Acts miracles only take place in 3rd world countries.  It is because we have stopped dreaming big, praying hard, and thinking long.

Join us this Sunday as we begin to trust God for some big, crazy dreaming!

 

Thanks!

 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” ~ 1Thessalonians 5:18

I hate this verse!  I have heard it quoted so many times.  And it is usually quoted in a time of great distress…to someone else.  I cannot remember a time I have heard someone quote it to themselves.  Instead, it is a pious, “holier than thou” quip that leaves the other person feeling inadequate in their faith.

The idea of giving thanks in all circumstances implies we must be thankful even in the times of great adversity.  More so, it implies we should actually be grateful FOR the adversity.  And it begs the question, “does this make God the author of evil”?  Is it really God’s will that you endure such hardship?  Is it His will to SEND you the adversity?

The question of evil has been pondered for thousands of years.  It is not my intention to solve it in this post.  For most of us we will wrestle with the idea for years.  And, hopefully, we will come to a place of trusting God in the midst of adversity.

Yet, St. Paul is reminding us to give thanks in the midst of the circumstance, not necessarily FOR the circumstance.  It is in the midst of our trials and adversities, we can know that God has a plan.  And His plan includes us.  He cares about us and He brings beauty from the ashes.

However, now that I have been walking with the Lord for many years, I am learning to also give thanks FOR the circumstances.  So often, the things that are tragic become beautiful gifts from God.  Two years ago I did not want to “give thanks” for my husband losing his job.  But God did amazing things in our lives through the journey of that particular adversity.  We learned compassion for others and dependence upon God.  We are able to truly understand others who are facing unemployment, foreclosure, and shut-off notices.  We know what it takes to apply for unemployment benefits and food stamps and Medicade for our children.  We know what it feels like to shop at the thrift stores because we have to, not simply because we are frugal.  And we know how it feels to be the recipients of other person’s charity.

God took those things and made us more compassionate.  We are able to minister to people we never would have without that experience.  He also blessed us with the ability to start our own small business.  And now we have opportunities to minister to more people who are looking for employment.  God has given us multiple opportunities to minister to people out of the ashes of that experience.

So I am still left asking and pondering the question, “Does this make God the author of bad things”?  I don’t know…and no, I don’t think so?  Here is what I do know:  I know and understand God less today than I did yesterday.  I mean that I am less certain and less arrogant that I have God all figured out in my head.  But, in my heart, I know God more today than I did yesterday.  Today, I know in the depths of my soul that God loves me and cares about me and desires for me to take His love and share it with others.

And that, my friends, is something to give thanks FOR!

Keep fighting the good fight of faith!

 

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