Be a doer.

Be a doer.

 

For my whole life, I have been immersed in Christian communities. I grew up knowing mostly believers. Then I went off to college and found another spot full of people that love God and shared God’s word with me constantly. It has been wonderful and needed and I have grown because of it, but a wave of conviction comes over me when I ask myself if I am only listening to the word? Am I a doer of the word as well?

I have listened during all the bible studies and took notes within all the groups, with comparatively little action afterwards.

 

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James 1:22-24

 

What is the point without any doing? If we don’t go and do, it is all worthless. It is the same as being constantly fed without ever exercising. Of course, we should be fed and built up, but then we need to put that strength to good use. If I eat and eat, but never move, I atrophy.

 

“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed.” James 1:25

 

The one that acts will be blessed.

True religion is not only attending a church service, bible study after bible study, and gathering around believers and talking. True religion involves action. It involves action to move away from the filth and selfishness of the world in which we live. It involves acting on the love we read about in His word.

 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:26

 

Let us not give into the worldly temptations that tell us “we deserve to do whatever we want” or “I don’t need to change.”

Let us shake off the pollution of this world and do what His word tells us. Let us care for the orphans and widows. Let our lives reflect the gospel. Let us not be listeners of the word and never doers.

It’s not about me.

It’s not about me.

 

We all have dreams and desires. I’d like to have certain life experiences and having those dreams and ideas is certainly not all bad. God places preferences, passions, and desires specific to us on our hearts that He can and does use for His glory.

But the question to ask ourselves is this: how often do we let our own ideals become greater than Christ? The line becomes blurry and soon we have made ourselves greater than Him.

How often do we remove Christ as the focus of our big picture and replace Him with ourselves?

In John chapter three, John the Baptist paints a beautiful picture of placing Christ in the correct spot. Instead of selfishly responding with disappointment or anger when attention and focus shifts to Christ, he responds with a humble joy. He understands that his purpose was to lead the way to Christ. He chooses to take himself out of the picture.

 

“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30

 

Do we get our joy from the hope we find in Christ and making Him known or do we find satisfaction when we feel happy and life meets our expectations?  Is our joy lost when we don’t feel happy or when we go through a trying season we don’t pick?

 

James chapter one speaks to these inevitable trials and temptations.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete..” James 1:2-4

 

As a silversmith refines and purifies his metal by testing it to make it strong and reflective, we also are refined and strengthened by our tests and trials. As Christians, we will face trials, big and small. They refine and strengthen us so that we can better reflect Christ. As contrary as it may be to our human thought processes, we were not put on this earth to have perfect, always fun, and always happy lives. We were put on this Earth to reflect Christ.

 

Would we rather not spend our time with certain people? Maybe.

Would we prefer to act only on what will make us feel happy? Yes.

Would we like to choose doing the easy thing? Of course.

 

But guess what? It’s not about us. When we finally grasp how to “make Him greater and ourselves less,” we find our joy. The joy that comes not from circumstance or action, but the joy we receive when we experience Him and make Him known.

Be Different.

Be Different.

To be set apart. To be seen as different.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading through prayer requests sent to the church. Some were praises, some were full of humble desires to go deeper with Christ, and some were full of desperate brokenness. It is my job to figure out how to respond. How do we help them take the next step? What is the next step?  How can I get across that what they need is something different? To know a God that is different. To know a church that is different. I was overwhelmed and a little heart broken.

So I decided to go on a walk and pray. Pray for these people and pray for how I should respond. Pray for my role here in general. Pray for my life here and how I should seek to follow Him within every one of my roles. The longer I walked, the more I talked with God and attempted to listen.

God showed me that what these people need is simply to see “the different.” They should be shown a church that goes beyond. A church that is uncommonly generous in our time and effort to show them how different life can be when they know and are known by a loving Father and are part of a family of believers that seeks to be set apart.

God showed me and is continually trying to show me that sometimes we need to eliminate the ministry strategies for a second and remember to simply desire to follow Him. To allow our God to fully equip. To lay aside distractions and sin and allow myself to be set apart. To be seen as different. To have a heart like His. In my job. In my relationships. To be known as different in how I love and how I act.

set-apart

 For you are a holy people [set apart] to the Lord your God; and the Lord has chosen you to be a peculiar people to Himself, above all the nations on the earth. Deuteronomy 14:2

 

 

It is worth it.

I have been living in Maine and working at Kennebec Community Church for about a month now. People often ask me how I am doing, “Are you homesick yet?” “How are you adjusting?” “What do you think?” My answer is usually some variation of “it’s been very good, but lots of changes to adjust to.” Of course that is a natural response to moving across the country to do something you never planned to do. And in some respects, it does feel as though my whole world has changed, yet I often feel like this transition was the most natural shift for me.

In ways, my role here is different than I expected. I have moments of confusion. Moments of feeling useless and incapable. I have had moments of sadness and frustration. But with that being said, there have been many more moments that I think, “this is worth it.”

When I speak to someone and they are shocked to hear that someone genuinely cares for them.

When I receive a hug that lasts for a longer than expected because it is clear that person needed it.

When I see someone’s eyes well up with tears at the relief of being able to share their burdens.

When I see an individual start to use their gifts and abilities to further His kingdom.

When a person who 0fe1b4b42dde43ca9921f26b3cd8991dis broken, lost, and hurting and I get to share with them the unending love that Christ pours out on His children and that same person then in turn accepts this great love.

When I have these experiences, it makes any lonely moment, any second of doubt, any bit of confusion worth it. This is all worth it.

 

A wise friend told me once to consider selecting a “life verse” of sorts. I picked Ephesians 5:1-2 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  I desire to simply “follow God’s example” here. I want to give that love back, to let others that are lost and hurting know they are dearly loved. To give myself up as a living sacrifice, a fragrant offering to God.  When living this out, it is all so worth it.

I am all in. Send me.

I am all in. Send me.

Next week I graduate from Arkansas State University and attempt to become a “real adult.” The week after, I move 1600 miles away to a state that I never had even an interest in visiting until last year and that’s all just a bit unfathomable to me sometimes.

This past summer I decided to change my plans of working at a pediatric clinic that would look great on my resume and align perfectly with what was expected of me as I continued on my well-planned path to becoming a Speech Pathologist. However, I instead deviated from my plan and chose to be a summer intern at a wonderful church in Augusta, ME. I went and had the very best and hardest summer. I was able to be part of a body of believers that was bringing the light of the Lord to an area that is clearly dark. And I am so glad I did because now I’m moving back to that same place I never really wanted to go in order to do a job that I never had any intention of doing and I am so grateful that this is the new plan.

Recently, it has been easy to get swept up into the excitement of it all. The excitement of beginning an adventure of sorts. However, as I begin to start saying final goodbyes to sweet friends, reality is hitting me. The reality of the life change that is about to begin. I would expect that I would be sad about leaving all of my loved ones and the wonderful life that I’ve always known here in Arkansas and in a way I am, but much more so I am reminded of why I am doing what I’m doing. The Lord has blessed me with this opportunity to serve Him and chosen someone that is inadequate in every way and made me adequate. He is equipping me to be able to devote my whole heart, soul, and mind to serving Him in a place that desperately needs to be served. I have an overwhelming joy at the thought of showing and sharing the love that the Lord has lavished upon us to people who are lost and hurting. I’m praying that my heart would burden and ache for those that don’t know this great love so much so that I would be moved to action. I pray that I would be bold and genuine in how I love. I pray for wisdom in knowing how to lead. I pray that I would grow every day in truth and love alongside those that I wish to serve.

I expect this transition to be hard, nerve-racking, and maybe a little lonely, but also beautiful and exciting. I expect to rely on God’s goodness and faithfulness. I expect to fail and learn from it. I expect to  give it my all.

At the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I am all in. Wherever, whenever, however, my Lord. And it looks like that “wherever” is Maine, the “whenever” is now, and the “however” is working on a church staff and not becoming an Arkansan Speech Pathologist.

 

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'” Isaiah 6:8