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The Fear of Man

You know when you are at Bible study early (some of you don’t know anything about this) and everyone is just hanging around, fellowshipping? There’s usually food, lots of stories to tell, and loads of laughter. Finally someone will call the group to order to start the study. Plates of snacks and cups of drinks are gathered along with Bibles and notebooks. You all sit down and the room-echoing, inevitable question comes: “Does someone want to open us in prayer?” Silence. The atmosphere that just a minute ago was teeming with life is now dead.

Dear Church, why don’t we love to pray?

Some person, (probably one of the same 2 or 3 that usually do) will eventually volunteer to pray and study begins. Maybe you have a study guide you are following or maybe you all simply read through part of God’s Word and have gathered to discuss it. “What did you all think of this week’s reading?” Silence. Deafening Silence.

Beloved Church, why don’t we LOVE and LONG to talk about our Savior?

Why is Christ not our favorite topic? Why are our conversations around God’s Word not as passionate and robust as those we have about food, news, sports, music, taxes, politics, books, etc? Why does it feel like we have to drag people kicking and screaming to have a full conversation?

I think a lot of it has to do with fear. Specifically, fear of man. We are so concerned about how our prayers sound to those listening that we forget about the God we are praying to. We forget that we really should be mindful of what he thinks and remember that he not only hears us but sees our heart attitudes and motives. Our friends don’t even compare.

We don’t answer questions in Bible study because what if our answer is wrong? What will people think if they find out we don’t know it all? So we sit with our mouths shut and agree with the other people talking instead. I can say with honesty that some of the best discussions I’ve had in studies are when people didn’t know the answer to something. It means we all had to look at the text deeper and think harder. And some of the most genuine prayers have come from broken hearts that stumble through their words.

Fear of man has paralyzed people. Not just in Bible study but that’s the area I’m focusing on today. Proverbs 29:25 says:

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

Do you see how this kind of fear is a snare? It’s a trust issue. Have you made people bigger than God in your mind? Do their opinions matter more than his? Are you all caught up in pleasing people or are you trusting in the only One who can keep you safe?

The bigger our view of God is, the smaller man looks.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2020 in Bible

 

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2020 Medical Update

I get an incredible amount of questions from people asking about my health. Which has made me realize that I haven’t written about it in a while. And although that has been partially on purpose, I figured I may as well do an update for you. If you have no clue what I’m talking about (’cause I’m just going to jump right in, maybe start here.)

As I sat here, praying about this post, I asked myself what verses I would use to describe this journey God has placed me on. The first ones that came to mind were the words of Mary:

‘And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.’
Luke 1:46-49

Holy is his name. Yes! He has done great things for me! What a magnificent God we serve, who looks on us, who holds the details of life in his hands!

The short answer to “How’s your health?” is that there are good days and bad days. I’m thankful for both and how the Lord takes care of me on every one.

I don’t have seizures anymore, kept at bay with the meds. The side effects from the meds come and go but I recognize them better now which makes them lose a lot of their power. It’s amazing how well you can fight depression and fatigue once you know the source of it AND you know the One who holds joy and strength for you.

The headaches are still constant but the intensity varies from day to day. I’m used to them and only on really bad days do I feel like holding my head all day. There are days and weeks where I overdo it still. (Newsflash! I’m not perfect. 🙂 ) Days where I need more rest. I try not to get to the point of exhaustion as much as I used to.

I truly do mean those words of Mary. I have learned to focus less on myself and more on Jesus and others. I think that’s why I have difficulty answer the health question; I don’t sit and think about it and it’s not looming over me anymore. I’m blessed to be able to work again, run again, take walks with friends, serve at church, take biblical counseling classes, volunteer at our pregnancy resource center, and minister to those around me. At some points over the last few years, a lot of those things felt like impossibilities, but we serve a God who glories in our weaknesses.

So I guess you could say that maybe not much has changed except my perspective and attitude. And isn’t that what the Lord is always after anyways?? Above all else, he desires our full affections and worship and that is the place he has brought me to.

Holy is his name.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2020 in epilepsy

 

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A Martha Attitude

Guys, I had a total Martha moment on Sunday. Do you know what I mean if I say that? You know when Jesus is at Mary and Martha’s house in Luke 10 and Martha is flying about, trying to get everything ready and Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet? Jesus says that, although Martha’s efforts are commedable, Mary has chosen the better thing.

Usually, I’m a Martha/Mary combo. A common thing in women’s Bible studies on this passage is to say which one you are more like and I’m never sure where to put myself. I work SUPER hard to prepare for people coming to my house so that when they arrive, I can just enjoy their company. I try to get business talk out of the way before Sundays so that at church, my mind is clear and I can worship and learn without hindrances.

Not so this Sunday. To set the stage (not give excuses), I feel like I haven’t slept since April. For. Real. So I’m tired but that’s not new. What’s new is that all the stores in the area have suddenly run OUT OF MY COFFEE. I drink half-caff (yeah, it’s gross) because regular makes me jittery. But for a couple weeks now, every time I went to get coffee, it’s been out of stock. What day did I actually run out of my coffee? Sunday. So I used regular. No big deal, I thought. I was also signing for out service on Sunday so I was excited for worship, my head was buzzing from coffee, and I was shaking all over.

It was before service when I saw a friend and walked up to say hi. We had some friendly talk and then I suddenly saw a lot of people coming in that I needed to catch. That’s when my friend said, “So how is your spiritual life going?” Normally, these are the kinds of conversations that I LIVE for but at that particular moment I couldn’t concentrate. “It’s great!” I said. (Which is true, but what a dumb, vague answer!)

I asked about his and he started to share several prayer requests with me. When he finished, I asked if we could pray right then and we did. Now to you this may look like a very productive conversation, but let me tell you, I felt like Martha. Let’s see what Jesus has to say about her:

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

That was me! My brain was all over the place and I did not take the time to sit with this friend. I was distracted with serving, with fellowship, with worship, but those were not the better things! The better thing would have been to focus my attention on the friend who needed care and compassion in that moment. The better thing would have been to listen and share gospel truth with the person in front of me instead of having a fly-by prayer.

Maybe this story sounds familiar to you. Maybe you often have fly-by conversations with your neighbors as you go on walks instead of stopping that FitBit and really getting to know them. Maybe you have given quick prayers that make you feel better but your heart wasn’t in it. Maybe you also need to ask someone to forgive you next Sunday.

If so, praise God! He is teaching and convicting! He is working on you and me to refine us into his image! It’s not fun to see the ugly sin in your life but it does mean that the Holy Spirit is at work and that’s something to be thankful for!

(P.S. I found some half-caff.)

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2020 in encouragment

 

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A House Divided

I’m a political push-over. I hate…would even go so far as to say, I despise, politics. Not to say that I don’t have opinions and convictions. Anyone who knows me well would laugh in your face if you said that. It’s just when it comes to politics, unless it is something I’m FIERCELY for or against, you probably won’t ever hear a word from me. I won’t post about it on FaceBook, I will shrink from discussions on it, and my thoughts will stay inside my head.

You know why? Because more than anything else in the world, policy divides the church. That fact saddens and discourages me beyond what you know. I already have family members that can’t discuss politics together; the church is supposed to be different. We are united by Christ. We have more common ground than anyone else in the world and yet sometimes the smallest, dumbest things get between us. And so to me, it’s not worth it. I will let everyone else’s opinion rage before I bring mine up (which is NEVER the popular one lol) and cause an argument. As much as depends on me, I want to live at peace with others in order to proclaim the Prince of Peace.

I guess that’s really my main issue. Believers get so caught up in government conspiracies and policy debates, that we lose sight of Christ. Forget politics, are you living a holy life? Are you loving God so fully that it flows to your neighbor? Are you using this time to witness to those around you or are you spending it debating on FaceBook? You cannot be both chasing after YOUR rights and chasing after righteousness so which is it, church?

Friends, this is written from a heavy heart. Would you pray with me for believers across the globe as we strive to serve Christ? Would you pray that we love those whose opinions are different than ours so that we can show our loving Father? Would you pray with me for our leaders as they make difficult decisions for our country and other nations? And most importantly, would you pray that God would be glorified by the attitudes and actions of his people during this time?

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2020 in church

 

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Pandemic Ministry

Hey friends! How are you all? How are you doing during this abnormal worldwide situation? Leave a comment or send me an email and let me know how I can be praying for you!

I don’t know how your life has been, but here in Ohio, we have been under a Stay Home order for several weeks now. However, since I work at a bank, I’m an ‘essential employee’ and still head to work most days. It’s an interesting life.

My evenings have definitely changed. From being crazy-booked to nowhere-to-go. 🙂 I’ve been enjoying walks with friends (keeping distance), listening to online sermons, knitting, reading, running, and praying.

But the nagging question for me has been about ministry. How do I minister to people when I can’t be around anyone? I’ve had to get creative with my ministry ideas and I LOVE that!

In some ways, I’ve grown more bold during this time. I have such a strong sense of hope and security in Christ and I desperately want others to know him! I’ve been able to share the gospel with co-workers, speak more of Christ with my friends, and be more loving towards my neighbors.

In other ways, I’ve realized that THIS is what I should have been doing all along! Every time I call a widow from church to check in on her, I realize that I should always be doing this. Every time I randomly stop at someone’s house in town just to say hi and make sure they are okay, I have this feeling that this is the way the church is supposed to work. When I go out of my way to love others and put them first, I KNOW that it shouldn’t have taken an international pandemic to get me here.

But I’m grateful for the wake up call. I’m thankful the Lord has given me boldness and assurance during this time and that I’m able to share that with others. My prayer is that I never go back to “normal” and forget what he is teaching me right now.

What has the Lord been teaching you about ministry lately?

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2020 in evangelism

 

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Good News of Great Joy

It’s finally here! No more waiting! Resurrection Day has arrived in all its joy and wonder.

There are so many things that stand out to me about the accounts of the resurrection. I love how Mary is kept from recognizing Jesus when asking about his body. I love how it’s not until he speaks her name that she suddenly knows who is before her. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.

I love how Jesus walks with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. How he patiently goes through Scripture and explains it to them. I wish I could have been there for that! What a conversation that must have been! It reminds me that all of Scripture points to Christ.

I love how Jesus starts referring to the disciples as his brothers after he rises. He has broken the power of sin. He has conquered death and the curtain is torn. Welcome, brothers.

There are two words that seem to describe every person’s reaction to the resurrection in Scripture. The first is fear. Anyone who saw the angels was afraid. Sometimes it’s almost a stubborn fear and disbelief: THERE’S NO WAY. Testimony of seeing the risen Savior was rarely believed until it was confirmed.

But the other phrase that comes up in the Bible a lot is GREAT JOY. In Matthew, the women who came to the tomb, didn’t see Jesus, but departed with fear and great joy! They believed! Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Because friends, if we stayed in that darkness of Tenebrae, what joy do we have? If our Savior never rose, what hope is there for us? That’s not good news at all.

But he did. What wild, unimaginable joy and hope is ours! Celebrate today and every day because we serve a risen Savior.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2020 in holiday

 

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Tenebrae: literally; Darkness

Holy Week has arrived. Truly my heart’s desire was to be able to gather with my church family this week but that was not the Lord’s will.

I have spent this week in contemplation of the cross. I think as believers we don’t like to linger there. We love to run on to the joyful celebration (rightly so) of the resurrection but we don’t like to sit and gaze at the destruction of the cross. We may pause for a moment but even then, Easter is in the back of our minds. We have that luxury because we know the whole story.

So this week, I have put myself in other peoples’ places. I have read through each Gospel account of the betrayal and death of Jesus but stopped reading at the burial. I have walked in the garden with Jesus and felt his loneliness and desperation, as he knows all that is about to come upon him. As he cries out to the Father for another way but fully submits himself to the pain of betrayal, of desertion, and of physical suffering beyond belief.

I have sat with the disciples as they casually fall asleep when they should have been praying. I hear Jesus’ gentle rebuke and plea and his understanding as he knows how weak we are. I have felt the disciples’ utter confusion and hopelessness as they see their leader torn away and crucified before them. What is going on??

I have wept at the tenderness of Christ on the cross. Experiencing the worst pain I can think of, yet still caring for others. He sees his mother and thinks of her welfare by placing her in the care of his beloved friend. He asks forgiveness of those who are killing him. He ministers to the thief hanging to die beside him and gives him hope.

As he hangs there, the earth is filled with darkness. The Father turns his face away from the sin that he can’t behold and Jesus is left all alone. He cries out in despair and the curtain that separates man from God is torn in two. Scripture has been totally fulfilled in every way.

The Son of God gives up his spirit.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2020 in salvation

 

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What is Comfort?

Comfort can mean different things to different people. Some people picture comfort as a warm hug, a pillow, and a bowl of soup. Other people see it as having loads of money and never having to worry about finances. The love of family. Freedom from stress.

I had two conversations about comfort this week and during one of them, something from my childhood memory slowly perked its head up in my brain. I had a definition of comfort in my heart but was struggling to remember the words so, after looking at the wrong catechism first, I finally caved and looked up the Heidelberg Catechism, which I memorized as a kid:

Q&A 1
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

I will be the first one to say that I LOVE pillows and blankets as much as the next person but this is true comfort, friends! The things we have on earth can never satisfy us, no matter how much we chase after them, but Christ can. He is the source of comfort for our hearts!

In the midst of COVID-19, would you remember with me what Christ has done for us? Would you remember the God we serve and that we belong to the One in control of everything? I was listening to something this week that reminded me that we don’t live in a Plan B world. Everything is Plan A, happening according to the Father’s will. There are no what-ifs or maybes. He knows it all.

That is comforting.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2020 in encouragment

 

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The Good Samaritan

Would you like to talk about something other than the news? If so, pull up a chair; you are in the right place. Because today I’d like to put a very familiar story in a totally new light.

I’m sure you’ve read the story of the Good Samaritan before but I’d like to ask you to read it again. Trust me. Take the time and read it even if it’s the millionth time in your life:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37 ESV

Today I’d like to look at this story through the eyes of Jesus’ listeners, the Jews. Most of the time, we read the Bible from OUR perspective, but today, I want to see it from THEIRS.*

First of all, it says that the man who was robbed was traveling out of Jerusalem and was headed towards Jericho. This road was rocky and was known to be full of robbers. So this wouldn’t have been a surprising start to a story. It’s like saying someone was robbed in the slums of a city. No one is shocked when you say that. The Jews probably also assumed that the man was a Jew and coming out of Jerusalem from a Feast Day. They see him as one of their own people.

Now when the priest and Levite come on the scene, you and I are tempted to boo at the “bad guys,” but the Jews would have seen them as heroes. The best, most holy people they knew. For them, this is like saying that your beloved religious mentor was walking down the road. Jesus says that they saw the man and passed by on the other side of the road. Now, if you know your OT well, you will know that neither priests or Levites can touch dead bodies. Their professions and lives would have been ruined as they could no longer serve in the temple. So while you and I see two heartless and cruel people, the Jews saw a valid reason to leave a man that looked dead.

Lastly, a Samaritan comes by. This is the part where we cheer for the “good guy,” but the Jews were probably boiling over with anger! How dare Jesus bring a Samaritan into this story as the hero?! The racism and hatred between the Jews and Samaritans was worse than most of us have experienced. At the end of the story, the lawyer couldn’t even bring himself to say that it was the Samaritan who was the neighbor, just “the one that showed mercy.” And yet this is the one who took the man, cared for him, and paid for his injuries. This is the one who proved to be a true neighbor.

Now if you’re like me, you’ve probably heard that story (complete with flannelgraphs) your whole life. The take-away has always been to be a good neighbor to whoever you meet, that everyone is your neighbor. Can I suggest to you a deeper meaning today?

Look again at the story. Look at the Samaritan specifically. Let me point out some significant details about him:

The Samaritan was hated and despised by the Jews.
He had compassion on the man.
He also appears to have wealth. He is the only character in the story riding on an animal- everyone else has been on foot.
He came prepared to help- he had oil and wine with him and bound up the man’s wounds.
He paid for the man’s injuries.
He left a deposit.
He promised to return.

Beloved friends, WHO is the Good Samaritan? WHO does this sound like? All our lives we read this story and think it’s about us, but it’s truly a story about CHRIST!

JESUS IS THE GOOD SAMARITAN!

Jesus is the one who compassionately takes dead people and pays for them. He has riches beyond measure but he gave them up for us. He left us the deposit of the Holy Spirit and promised to return. He was hated by the Jews to the point that if that man in the ditch had woken up and seen who was rescuing him, he would have fought back against him with all his might! (And so do we.) JESUS is the point of this story. Because of THE Good Samaritan, we are called to be neighbors to everyone. And it’s only through him that we can.

I truly believe that all of Scripture points to Christ and yet we are sometimes so blind to see it! We want to believe that the Bible is about us, but let’s face it, it’s not. It’s all about him.

*If you think I came to this sudden realization on my own, you are so far off. My daily devotions are currently in 1 John (how’d we get here, huh?) in a study by Jen Wilken called Abide. I would highly recommend it! Pretty much this whole post is from her. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2020 in Bible

 

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Undone

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life
    shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
    they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
    all who swear by him shall exult,
    for the mouths of liars will be stopped.
Psalm 63

You may be wondering why I have simply copied an entire Psalm here. Why this Psalm? What a weird way to start a post, Kimmy. The last two days have been rocky for me. But if you were to look at my life, you wouldn’t be able to tell because all of the rockiness has been happening on the inside. God has been hammering away at my heart and it’s not comfortable to say the least. Imagine with me for a moment a shelf full of idols. These idols have nametags like control, self-sufficiency, reputation, eloquence, pride, desires, knowledge, etc. God has been going along and one-by-one, tipping those idols off the shelf and breaking them into pieces. Some of them- I didn’t even know were in my heart!

Right now I feel lost and broken. My world has been turned upside down as the Lord has shown me my sin. I cried all through this morning’s sermon. The conviction was deep.

But more than that, I feel UNDONE. The lyrics to one of my favorite songs go like this:

I’m undone by the mercy of Jesus
I’m undone by the goodness of the Lord
I’m restored and made right
He got a hold of my life
I’ve got Jesus
How could I want more?
(Selah- I Got Saved)

With my idols and sin staring me down came an even stronger realization and image of our Savior. And accompanying the words of the Psalm- that his steadfast love is better than life, that I SO thirst for him, and that my soul clings to him– there was a resounding YES in my heart.

So I wept but I wept because of his great love! Because I realized that my sin was so deep but his love was deeper still. He knew it all and loved me enough to take down those idols.

UNDONE, people.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2020 in encouragment

 

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