Give it all away

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My current job is a ministry job. I work at a homeless shelter that believes that Jesus is Lord and when he changes hearts, he changes lives. I work at this job 8:30am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday. My husband and I also lead a married small group every Monday where we provide dinner. We volunteer at church a couple Sunday’s a month. We continue keeping in contact with friends near and far, and my dad spends almost every other weekend in our 750 square foot apartment. This is a lot of people and a lot of time. I am telling you all of this because I am an introvert; I refuel by being alone. Most of the time I can wiggle in one or two nights of rest. I can choose to say no to things most of the time. I tell myself I should say no because I already do “too much.” Though, I’m starting to wonder if this is more a selfish attitude than an attitude of Christ.

The implementation of boundaries is being preached on more and more. Saying no to something that may make you too tired or too busy is often encouraged. Let me first say there is a balance, and I do believe we need to take care of ourselves and our mental health. I’m not promoting burn out, but I am promoting being interruptible.

I am a very selfish person. I almost always choose myself. It requires the Holy Spirit to make me want to think about other people. I’ve picked up the idea of boundaries, used it and abused it. I have built walls around myself so that I don’t have to give too much, I can give just enough without being hurt. I can love Jesus and love my neighbor, but only when it is comfortable for me and when I am not too tired or when it is convenient.

Four years ago I was doing overseas missions. I was gone for about a year. Every day I was spent. I was pushed to my breaking point. I was asked to give more than I had. More time, more energy, more food, more money, more passion, more prayer, more praise, more effort, more everything. Every day I would go to bed exhausted because every ounce of me was being given. That time in my life was where I felt more alive and the closest to God. I was living and breathing the scriptures. I couldn’t do anything before first being filled with the Spirit. That’s what I think I’m missing, and maybe you’re missing it too. I’m not filling myself up. I’m not allowing God to “pour me out like a drink offering” (Phil 2:17). I will allow just enough to be poured out, but don’t pour out too much, Lord! I need to save some for myself, I need to take care of me, no one else will, right?

I’ve picked up expectations and boundaries like luggage, carrying them around with me, never letting anyone forget that these are mine. You cannot touch these.

Jesus asks for more.

He asks for me to lose my life to find it. (Matt 16:25) To love others so much that I forget about myself. He asks me to seek first his kingdom, not my own. (Matt 6:33)

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

Jesus lived his whole life submitted to what his Father wanted. He was interrupted time after time.

I’m reminded of the story of the woman who touches the hem of Jesus’s robe in Luke chapter 8. He is walking with his disciples through a large crowd and so many people are grabbing him, including his disciples. This woman who has been bleeding for twelve years reaches out and touches the hem of his cloak and is immediately healed. Jesus, in the midst of this chaos asks “who touched me?” The story continues with a conversation with the woman. I urge you to read it on your own, but, what I want to highlight is how Jesus stops. He stops in the midst of a crowd that the scripture says is “crushing him.” He allows himself to be interrupted. He allows himself to be given to this woman. I don’t do that often enough.

I want to live my life in submission to what the Lord has in store for me, for his family. I want to be able to come home from work and still be available to be taken from. I want to say yes to someone who is in need and desires my time instead of pushing them away because I’m tired or because I need my “alone time” first. It is all an excuse. Jesus promises to be living water. We have access to that water any time we want, just as he promised the woman at the well. (John 4:14)

I believe when we are giving ourselves and serving others, Jesus is going to provide for us. He is going to fill us because he is the well that never runs dry.

That’s what it was like while I was doing missions. Living to the fullest, and pouring it all out to be filled again. I want to know I am living at my full capacity, loving with no agenda and serving without expectation. To give all I have of myself. To love so boldly it is impossible for me to keep any for myself. None of what I have is mine. It’s all his. All my gifts, all my talents, all of myself. He’s asking me to give it all away, and that is what I am going to do.

I’m not afraid of being wrong

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My whole life I’ve fought being wrong, feeling wrong, and looking wrong. I have never wanted someone to find out that I was wrong because, then; who would I be? I’ve found something out: I’m wrong a lot of the time. I’m wrong probably more than I’m right. I’ve realized it’s okay.  It doesn’t make me a horrible person, it just makes me human.

I’m also in a place where I’m questioning things. I’m questioning belief systems I have because I want to know if they stand on their own.  Do I believe these things because that’s what the church has told me is true or because the word of God has spoken this into life? I’ve come to this point in my life because two things are happening; one, close friends have become atheists, and two, close friends have been severely hurt by the church. I want to know why these things are happening. I want to know why the people who claim to be daughters and sons of God–who is Love–have the least amount of love to give. I want to know why my friends who have questions are pushed away for being toxic or dangerous to the church. I want to know why a church would call someone toxic and have no reservations about it. I want to know why Christians are fighting the fact that racism is real in this country, or that gay and transgender people are people too. I want to know what belief systems are causing this.

Am I a Pharisee or am I a disciple? Am I missing the point? Have I moved too far into judgement and condemnation or am I choosing grace and truth? I am close to tears writing this because I don’t want to be so focused on the rules and on the way-it’s-always-been-done to the point where I’ve forgotten to look people in the eye. I don’t want to have an agenda or a project of people. I want to always choose to see people as people and not the means to an end.

I’ve been sharing multiple different articles on facebook, most of them about the injustice happening towards our black community– some about the gay community–and I know it’s making people uncomfortable. Here is where me being wrong comes in: I’m okay with the fact that I may be wrong about the things I’m sharing. I’m okay with that, but I think these things are worth honest conversations and lots of prayer. I think it’s worth talking about because people are hurting and suicidal. People are being pushed out of churches when they should be welcomed in. Church isn’t for the healthy, it’s for the sick. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.;” (Mark 2:17)

If I’m wrong, so be it! If I am, I know the Holy Spirit will soon correct me, but what if I’m right? What if it’s time for us as a community to stop clenching our fists and closing our eyes to this world? I think it’s time we stop talking for one second and just listen. I want to hear the stories of people who I’ve overlooked because they were too broken. I want to know how I’ve hurt them by my words so I can ask for forgiveness. Can we stop surrounding ourselves with people who think the same way we do so we can learn and grow and be challenged? Please, can we listen instead of rebuttal? I just want people to know Jesus, the real Jesus, not the one we’ve made in our image. If I’m wrong, that’s okay, but if I’m right, we need to help those we’ve hurt, because we’re hurting a lot of people.

I don’t have this life all figured out, no one does, but I think we’ve come too far into trying to defend ourselves.  We are worried about being wrong. When it comes to hurting people, being right or being wrong does nothing in the face of suffering. I’m going to be reflecting way more on my life and the ways I could be hurting people around me instead of helping them, I urge you to please join me in this. Lets listen more than we speak.

The light shines.

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”
//John 1:5

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I had a whole different blog written out. It was full of hurt and the lies I have believing and yes, some of that will spill out onto this page but I’m starting over. I’m starting over because the light who is Jesus himself shines in the darkness and guess what? The darkness flees, it cannot overcome it, and it cannot overcome the Christ, the God-man who defeated it forever.
For a second (which has been a couple months) I have been living like the darkness had a lot of power, like the light wasn’t enough to help, to free me.

I’m not quite sure how to put into words what exactly has been happening inside of me but it has been bloody. The enemy has been attacking me for so long I almost gave up. Every moment was a moment of weakness. I was never good enough. Every single thing I did was just another opportunity for him to tell me I wasn’t worth anything. He was trying to pick me off. He wanted me to become so apathetic I stopped fighting. That is ultimately the enemy’s goal. Anyone that is doing anything for the glorification of Jesus he will try to pick off. He will try to make you believe anything so you become so inverted and consumed with your own hurt that you forget about the goal.
I forgot about the goal. I was licking my wounds and feeling sorry for myself because I was living like I wasn’t worth anything.

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Last Sunday at church we started a new series about what kind of story you want to tell. We were asked what kind of story we wanted our life to be telling. The kind of life you live when you believe the lies isn’t a life and it wasn’t the story that I wanted to be telling.  I want my story to be an adventure filled with courageous deeds and bold statements. I want my story to ask hard questions and to challenge the ideas of culture. To be in that kind of story, the kind that comforts and moves and changes, you have to be secure and confidant in who the writer is. Who is the writer? The writer is the same one who beautifully and awesomely created this world. The same writer who told the ancient couple Abraham, and Sarah that they would birth Isaac and that Abraham would be the father of many nations. He is the same writer who called little tiny David to defeat the monstrous goliath.   The bible is the most exciting adventure, and Jesus was the most courageous man. I want my life to look like that. How do I make that happen? I trust God, the one who created me, who knitted, molded, and breathed me into existence.

 “Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure.
It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us.
God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention,
what feeds that indescribable need of our souls to
experience the richness of the world He made.
And then, leaning over us,
He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.”
//Bob Goff, Love Does

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Our whole life is a battle and we have been warned of this, even given armor. (Eph 6:10-20) We should never be surprised, but ready when those attacks come. We are children of the great I AM. No story is complete without a little friction. We like to see the hero overcome obstacles; we want to see the hero win the battle. Are you the hero of your story? Are you going to fight for your story? Are you going be courageous and bold? Let’s live in the confidence of the light that cannot be overcome by the darkness.

I had to talk about it.

Today is Thursday, December 4th, 2014 and I’m sitting in a Starbucks and I’m confused. I’m confused because unarmed people keep being killed. Then those unarmed people’s families have to mourn them and wonder why the trained police officer really had “no other choice”.
I’m confused because it’s 2014 and the issue of race is still an issue.
Trust me, I don’t know all the facts, and I was not there, but I do know that something is wrong here, something is very, very wrong, and it makes my stomach ache.

I am a very privileged white female who has had little problems in life. Just like I questioned why I was born in America while I was in Cambodia, watching small things become big things, I question now why I was born white. Why was I chosen to live a fortunate life when so many others around me were not?
Another issue right now is why it becomes about “me”. Why Mike Brown being shot 6 times and Eric Garner being chocked to death could possibly be about me? (There are plenty more cases I could name)
You know who it’s about, and what I have to come back to at all times to have hope in anything? Jesus. I have to have hope in what has been said. I have to hold onto the God that I know, The God who is just (Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 111:7) and the God who is love. (1 John 4:8)
I also have to come back to a place of trust with the Lord, that a lot of things DO NOT make sense because my mind is in a earthly place and He is higher than me. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
He also has told me not to take revenge, because revenge is His. (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:9)
What I can do is love the people around me. I can sign petitions that help our justice system become that, just.
I can trust my God and know that he loves his children way more than I do, and the anger I feel is not even a small amount of what he feels.
I think when things like this happen we forget that God is for us. God fights for us; he is our protector and our warrior. This world is fallen and we will not be perfect until heaven. Unjust things will continue to happen because the human race is sinful. Until we surrender our lives to God and open our eyes to our sinful nature we cannot be changed.
We can fight for change though; we can fight with the Lord to make things different. We must put on a heavenly lens when looking at these situations though, The Lord is seated and he knows. He knows our pain and he weeps with us. Jesus was tempted and tried in every way to be able to sympathize with us. (Hebrews 2:18, and Hebrews 4:15)
I trust my God, and I trust he will work all things for our good.
Until then, I will continue to pray for the families who have been wronged, and for the justice system to understand what their role actually is.

What do you think our role as Christians is in this issue? How can we carry our brothers’ burdens?