During my childhood, my “church friends” were my best friends. They were the ones where I spent the night and knew their parents. The ones whose childhood homes I still have memorized in my mind. It wasn’t always rosy, despite us all attending church, professing Christ, and being raised by Christian parents, but the good always outweighed the bad.
I remember my mother asking once why I was closer with my friends at church that I might only see once or twice a week than my friends from school. At the time I didn’t know the answer. Now I do. Now I understand.
I have been reading and meditating on the book of Job. It’s not a book I necessarily expected to enjoy. I anticipated that it would be long and depressing. And, in some ways, it is both of those things, but it inspired me greatly. And one thought kept coming into my mind, It’s so important to choose the right friends. Continue reading “Choose Your Friends Wisely”
It feels good to praise God. Just thinking about it makes me feel a joy and a fullness inside of me. When I praise God – I mean really praise him – I praise him all out. It’s a sing with my whole voice, lift up my whole hands, shout, jump, weep, laugh kind of praise. And I love it. I love that I get the opportunity to praise him openly and without shame.
If praising God doesn’t light a fire in you to serve him, give to him, spend time to him, read his word, and commit yourself to him, then you’re missing out. And I can’t encourage you enough to dive into why praising God doesn’t leave you overflowing with love – because when it does, you’ll want to praise him all day long. You’ll turn into a modern day David who, although he was the king of an entire nation, danced like a fool in his praise for his heavenly Father.
I recently heard a message about two other awesome praisers in the Bible – Paul and Silas. In Acts 16, Luke writes about Paul and Silas being thrown into prison. For those who may not be familiar with the story, the two men were in Philippi, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. For days, as they traveled through town a demon-possessed woman followed them, shouting. Paul, tired of her antics, shouted, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” And the demonic spirit left her. Continue reading “Your Praise Isn’t Just For You”
When my son was a baby, he was not a good sleeper. When he was very small he would sleep during the night, but his naps were short and irregular. As he got a bit older, his sleep was disjointed at all hours. I was given lots of well-meaning advice and I’m sure all of the advice is useful for some babies, but none of it worked for mine. Most of the advice was along the lines of keeping him active, but that NEVER worked. I now have two children, three and five, and if they’re tired they get wound up like they’re having a sugar rush and then I have to force them to crash and it’s ugly. My older sister, however, gave me one piece of advice that has turned out to be very true – Sleep begets sleep.
Basically, my sister’s ideology was if a child doesn’t get enough sleep, the sleep they get is often short and fitful. And it has turned out to be true of my children. If they don’t get their nap, they don’t sleep as well that night. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s not just children. As an adult, if you are accustomed to eight hours of sleep and only get six, you will feel the loss of those two hours, but if you decide you’re going to make up for it the next night, you will only find yourself awake much earlier than you planned.
We can apply it to other areas of our life as well. The more you eat, the more you want to eat. Your stomach will expand and you will be able to eat more food at one sitting. The reverse is also true, the less you eat, the less you want to eat. The more you run, the more you want to run and also, the less you run, the less you want to run. Continue reading “Prayer Begets Prayer”
I grew up in a church where lifting your hands in worship was a very progressive movement. My childhood church was not particularly strict, but it was a Southern Baptist church that preferred songs from the hymnal over a repeating chorus on a screen.
Even at camps and outside youth groups as a teenager, I don’t recall raising my hands during praise and worship. I do remember weeping on occasion and did not understand why until much later in my life, but I didn’t see the need in lifting my hands. I tried it once or twice and felt like a fake.
Fast forward ten years. My husband and I moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, and started looking for a church. It was the first time I would refer to “church” and not be talking about my childhood church. God was good and we found an amazing, multi-racial, multi-cultural church with a mission statement we could embrace. And the praise and worship was amazing.
Slowly I started lifting my hands in worship. Just one hand. I mean, let’s not get crazy. And initially I still felt that same sting of inauthenticity. But I was in a church full of people lifting up their hands, so there must be something to this. And after pushing through that feeling of falseness, something just clicked and it felt right. I felt like I was worshiping God more fully – with my entire being. Not just my spirit and heart and voice, but my full physical body was reaching out to him with praise.
But what does it really mean to lift your hands in worship? Continue reading “Lifting Holy Hands”
I had an incident recently at church where I really didn’t want to serve God. It didn’t have anything to do with God. I just found myself serving in a capacity where I felt ill-equipped. I found myself working with a demographic I don’t generally enjoy. And I found myself having a bad day in this act of service. So, I came home and told my husband, like any good child of God who is trying to get out of something, “I just don’t think I’m called to this ministry.”
The irony of this statement is that a few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to share a message from the pulpit on serving God. And in that message, I stressed that the act of service is in seeing a need and meeting it. But there I am, sitting in the passenger seat of our SUV while my kids watch VeggieTales, telling my husband that perhaps I’m not the right person to meet this particular need. Because I had a bad day.
My husband, who does a remarkable job of responding to my moods, just simply told me I couldn’t quit this ministry today. Not today. Today was a bad day, but that’s not a good reason to stop serving God. There will always be bad days.
And though I sometimes don’t love to admit this, he was right. Continue reading “Sometimes Serving Sucks”
Two thousand years ago, a baby came screaming and kicking into a stable in a tiny town on the other side of the world. This baby, just like every other baby born before or after, was born with an “expiration” date. Those young parents had no idea what was to come. They had knowledge of the prophecies, and they had the words the Angels had spoken to each of them directly; but just like every other Jew awaiting the Messiah, their greatest imaginations for their Son of the Most High wouldn’t even touch the reality of what was to come.
As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament in my chronological reading through the Bible, I’ve spent a lot of time in the period of Israel’s history riddled with idolatry, immorality, and just so much big, dirty sin. God’s wrath takes up pages and pages of the prophets’ books, spelling out disaster that would touch every inch of their lives. Their homes, their jobs, their food, their money, their legal matters, their children, their weather, their cities and rulers, even their very lives. God is so holy and righteous; to be with Him requires complete perfection. Perfection He knew we can’t attain on our own. Then He used centuries of an entire nation’s history to show us we couldn’t do it. Not that we needed that, right? Or am I the only one who’s already messed up today? Continue reading “Expiration Dates”
Tis the season of giving, thankfulness, and compassion. Spending money and eating lots of food seems to make people more likely to volunteer, donate, and say thank you. Schools have food drives, people don’t snarl at the Salvation Army person outside the grocery store, and most will even donate that dollar or five at the checkout counter – sometimes without even knowing the name of the charity. Generally speaking, this is a very positive thing. Giving to others not only helps others, but it also releases endorphins in the giver that makes them happier. There is literally a chemical response to giving. So, for those of you who find ways to go above and beyond in your giving or service to others this time of year, be blessed to be a blessing.
But, here’s a crazy idea, what if you extend your blessing – to the guy holding a sign on the side of the road or the woman asking for spare change in the parking lot? It’s good to give and serve intentionally and as a Christian you should desire to do this, but what about the unintentional times? What about the times when we aren’t thinking about it or we’re preoccupied or we’re judgmental toward the asker? What about those times?
Continue reading “Come, Pass, Shun”
As I sit and prepare for the upcoming holidays, family gatherings, and the approaching birth of my own first-born son, I can’t help but be amazed at the simplicity and humbleness of Jesus’ family and his birth story. Extravagance and fanfare no doubt existed during that time period, as it does today, yet they lived by the voice of God and not what was in fashion.
In these final two months of pregnancy, baby bottles, soft blankets, furniture, the cutest trending baby clothing and play accessories line my home in preparation for our son’s arrival. Though we humbly make do without creating a decorated nursery, my husband and I still have the luxury of buying and being gifted with the finest baby accouterments. Our son will be welcomed home to a warm, safe, and outfitted home even while we await the building of our forever home. Continue reading “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
Have you ever wanted something to happen RIGHT NOW but it seems to be blocked at every turn? Well, you’re not alone in that experience. The Bible tells us that God will give us the desires of our heart but it doesn’t say when. That’s where the frustration comes in. We whine, throw tantrums and question God by saying things like “WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG!?” The frustration can be so overwhelming that we feel like simply giving up on the promise being fulfilled.
Continue reading “Though it tarry..”
For most of us, Christmas is easily a season of expectance. Receiving gifts, eating delicious food, spending time with friends and family we may not often see – whatever your favorite part of celebrating, we anticipate it, look forward to it, and try to savor it as long as possible.
When I had children, I decided to revisit how we celebrate this amazing holiday. As a Christian, it is a pivotal moment for my faith. To celebrate Christmas is to celebrate the birth of my Savior, the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise to mankind, the miracle of a baby born to a virgin, a baby who was both God and man. For centuries, thousands of Israelites had been waiting expectantly for the Messiah, the suffering servant, the promised King. How did thousands of dollars spent on decorations, food, and gifts celebrate that? All I felt I was celebrating was consumerism and gluttony. Sure, we read the Christmas story before opening gifts. But which of those things do I remember with more excitement?