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Put off, Put on

Most people are surprised to learn that I’m an introvert. But really, I am. I can choose to be extroverted and I recognize the value of that, but on the inside, I’m very introverted. On the other hand, I’m also very opinionated and can be outspoken (no wonder everyone is confused) so this week has been really convicting for me. Keep reading….

My small group is working through The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. Which is a great book by the way! I read it in high school but I really don’t remember much from it so this is a good refresher. Last week’s chapter was on having Holiness in Spirit because we all know that you can’t just change outward behavior and be holy. It all begins in our hearts. I was cruising through the chapter when I suddenly hit this line:

“One of the most difficult defilements of spirit to deal with is the critical spirit. A critical spirit is rooted in pride. Because of the “plank” of pride in our own eye we are not capable of dealing with the “speck” of need in someone else.” pg 110

The paragraph goes on but I wrote in my book in large letters: STRUGGLE! I really struggle with a critical spirit! I can be very opinionated (no really?) and quick to point out the flaws in others without regard to their needs. All rooted in pride.

Which brings me to my second punch in the gut for the week. The sermon on Sunday was on Ephesians 4:25-32 and he outlined loving ways of communication. I just wanted to cover up my head and hide. I’m terrible at good communication! It takes me a long time to figure out what I’m actually feeling and by then I think it’s too long to bring it back up but it’s still bugging me and so I sit in silence and brood. Anyone else have this issue? No? Just me? Okay.

Anyway, one of his points really his home with me (ALL of his points were very practical and useful!) He said to ask yourself if YOUR attitude is right before approaching another person AND to ask if this is what the OTHER person needs.

Many times I approach people to get things off my chest. It’s weighing me down, driving me nuts, and so I bring something up (usually from weeks ago because I couldn’t gather my thoughts) so we can talk through it. But maybe that’s just what I selfishly need, not what is most loving towards that person. If it’s not sinful or harmful for our relationship, I should really cover it in love. (1 Peter 4:8, Proverbs 17:9) SO hard to do when you’ve got a prideful, critical spirit to deal with! But that’s loving my neighbor as myself.

Over all, a pretty convicting and challenging week for this outspoken girl. However, just keeping my negative thoughts to myself isn’t enough. That’s not what the Bible calls us to. God has loftier things in mind for his children. Not only am I to put off my critical self, but I’m to put on gentleness, compassion, and encouragement for others. (Col. 3) It’s not enough to just empty myself of a sinful habit if I’m not also filling my soul with a righteous one.

The beauty of it is that the more I fill myself up with God’s Word and I practically apply what it says, the less negative thoughts even come to mind. What a blessing the Holy Spirit is! Reliance on him is the key to overcoming any sin habit.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Bumpy Ride

My car has been broken down for almost a month now. My wonderful, used-to-be-reliable car has a cracked engine block and needs a whole new engine. To be quite honest, I kind of miss it. I miss its smooth driving, its great sound system, and its amazing AC. I just miss driving my vehicle. You know, when you know a car and how it moves and its quirks? That kind of thing.

On the plus side, my best friend is super generous and has been letting me use her car since she can use a work vehicle. And guys from my church are working on my car situation. But it’s been draining. I don’t like having Natalie’s car because I don’t like forcing her to drive a camp vehicle. To say the least, I’m not a fan of cracked engine blocks.

So this week, I suddenly remembered that I have another car that I gave back to a friend to scrap. We put the battery back in and it started up! I was beyond happy to be able to give Natalie her car back even if it meant I was driving around a rust bucket for a while.

Why am I telling you all this? I do have a point. Also this week (it’s been busy around here) we had a missionary from Romania stay with people at my church. One night several of us gathered together to hang out and someone asked me if I had walked there. I half-jokingly replied, “No, unfortunately that tub of rust out there is mine.”

Do you know what that missionary said? “What do you mean unfortunately? You have a car! That’s great! What a huge blessing!”

Immediately, several “yeah, but” statements flew into my head but in the end I had to sheepishly own up that I actually have two cars. He was floored and kept talking about what a blessing that was! Whoa, was I convicted. Such a different attitude than what I had. Suddenly the rust, the smell, mice, lack of AC, no muffler (the list goes on) didn’t seem as important. Suddenly the fact that I have a vehicle that gets me from point A to point B, that isn’t inconveniencing another person, and that simply RUNS became something to be more grateful for. And on top of that, I have an awesome friend that let me use her car for a while and guys at my church who are working hard on my car to get it fixed!

I’m so thankful for that change in perspective! I’m thankful someone was there to point out how grateful I should be and he didn’t even realize what he was doing!

So if you hear me coming, don’t mind me. I’m just going to boldly drive around my rusty, leaky old car as long as I need to (and it holds up) because God gave it to me and I’m grateful for his provision!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2019 in blessing

 

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Imperishable

This week I have walked through murky, dirty water. I have listened to the sound of it squish around my feet. I have seen its mud everywhere. This week I have also sat in ashes. I have coughed and wheezed. My eyes have burned from smoke. I have thrown away more things than I care to count.

It has been a long week, friends. Last Friday, we got a big thunderstorm and overnight, my town flooded. And along with it, my church. I’m not talking a little moisture here, I’m talking 6-8 inches of dark water through the entire basement. I was in shock. It was one storm! This hasn’t happened in the 6 years I’ve lived here. Needless to say, it was A. LOT. of clean up.

But as I watched the doors open on Saturday for volunteers to come help and I saw them stream in, I was reminded that the church is not the building. The church is God’s chosen children and we had a time of sweet fellowship cleaning that building where we worship our King.

Bright and early on Sunday morning (like 3:30am folks) I woke up to noise going on outside my bedroom door. I couldn’t figure out what it was so I flung open my door to find 6ft flames burning their way through my wall and just touching the ceiling. Do you know that feeling? Do you know what it’s like to wake up and find that scene right outside your bedroom? I’m sure some of you do. I was able to put the fire out with an extinguisher from the hallway and I realized that I must not have blown the candles that were on my bookshelf out before I went to bed. 😦

And as I literally sat in dust and ashes on Sunday morning, thinking of my childhood books that were ruined and gone forever, there was only one passage I could think of. It ran through my head over and over again.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

I have had the help of so many people this week that it would be impossible to list them all. My friends and church family jumped right in and surrounded me with love and practical help. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

But the thing I’m most thankful for is a salvation that is imperishable. One that isn’t kept on earth where things like floods and fires destroy. One that is kept safe for me. Praise the Lord for that.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2019 in life

 

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My Thing Isn’t Top Priority

Today I reread a very freeing thing. Yup, you got that right. I picked up the book Crazy Busy to reread because a) I love that book and b) I felt like I needed to hear its message again. Turns out I did.

My absolute favorite part of the book is the section about ministry. I have a really hard time with ministries because to some degree I always feel like I should be doing more. Everyone around me can make the case that the work they are doing is the most important and should be top priority and I should support it. Inside my church and outside. It’s pretty easy to feel guilty for not helping everyone with their passion. (Just like it’s easy for me to feel like the ministry I’m involved in should be everyone’s top priority!)

But that’s the thing. I can’t be passionate about EVERYTHING. It’s exhausting and draining. And that’s ok! I’m not supposed to be! That is the wonderful, beautiful thing about the church! I’m going to let Kevin DeYoung take over here for a minute:

“Every Christian must be prepared to give an answer for the reason for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15), but not everyone will do beach evangelism. Every Christian should be involved in the Great Commission, but not everyone will move overseas. Every Christian should oppose abortion, but not everyone will adopt or volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. We need Christians who spend their lives improving inner-city schools and Christians whose dream is to get great theological books translated into Polish. And we need Christians who don’t make others feel guilty ( and don’t feel guilty themselves) when one of us follows a different passion than another. I read and write a lot. That’s what I do well. But that doesn’t mean anyone should feel guilty for not reading and writing as much as I do. You have you own gifts and calling. You have to be okay with other Christians doing certain good things better and more often than we do.” Crazy Busy pg. 49-50

Sometimes I fall into the trap of believing that the thing I love, everyone should love and support but that’s not the case. Kevin does clarify earlier in the chapter that there is a difference between caring and doing. For instance, all Christians should CARE about starving children in Africa, but not all Christians are called to go to Africa and do something there.

What a weight off my shoulders! This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of this week, people! I don’t need to feel pressured by other people to be involved in every. single. good. thing. and I also don’t want to pressure other people who aren’t passionate about the ministries I’m involved in. The church is a BODY for a reason and I’m SO thankful!

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2019 in books

 

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Tithing vs. Generosity

I’ve been mulling an idea around in my head for weeks but I’ve been REALLY spacey lately so I’m just getting around to putting it on…paper?

I’ve been thinking about tithing. The less money I have, the more I’ve thought about this. I’ve also found out that a surprising number of people don’t actually believe in tithing. So I looked into some verses. I think most people think of Abraham in the Old Testament when they think of tithes. In Genesis 14, Abraham tithed a 10th to Melchizedek. What I actually found is that there are numerous types of tithes in the OT. But once you move into the New Testament, tithing really isn’t mentioned (except a couple times by Jesus which we’ll go over.)

And here is where people split off in two directions. You can be in Camp A where tithing is just an OT thing and Jesus did away with it when he came, or you might be in Camp B which decides that since a common tithe in the OT was 10% that’s a good guideline to follow for life.

I think I’m going to have to pick Camp C unfortunately. What did you really expect? Hear me out:

Camp A has some serious flaws. Jesus did do away with several things when he came to earth. But he came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. (Matt. 5:17, Rom. 3:31) We don’t offer animal sacrifices anymore, but in Romans 12, we are commanded to offer ourselves as LIVING sacrifices. Also, Jesus does uphold the concept of tithing in Matthew 23:23-24 as he tells the Pharisees that they tithe but neglect to show justice, mercy, and faithfulness. He tells them that they ought to have done both. So I really have a hard time just throwing out tithing altogether simply because it’s not mentioned explicitly in the NT.

However, Camp B also has flaws. I would have a problem picking ONE of the tithes in the OT and declaring that that is the one we should all follow. I think if you add the OT tithes together you actually get about 23% of a household’s income so I’m not sure why we don’t use that figure? (Don’t bet your life on that math.)

My point really is this. The NT actually does say quite a bit about tithing but it doesn’t use that word. Is that really what is tripping people up? Besides all the times that Paul took up collections for the saints in various places, here are just three of the passages I found:

“And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Are you catching the drift here? I would contend that the NT is a huge proponent of giving BEYOND what you think you can afford. Now I’ll be totally honest, some weeks I look at my bank account and think, “Gee Lord, 10% seems like a WHOLE heck of a lot!” I get that! And other weeks I know I can do more. That what I love about that last passage. What you have decided in your heart. A question I ask myself a lot is, “Okay, I give regularly to my church, but am I giving generously??” That’s a challenge for myself and for you and you are going to have to decide what that looks like.

Another thing I’ve come across personally and I’ve discussed it with others is that sometimes it can be much more fun to give to things besides your church. Organizations that are good, you love, and you are passionate about. Oh, that’s a struggle for me. I think both are important but I cannot give to the organizations and neglect my church. I’ve heard the argument that you’ve been burned and now you don’t trust your church with your money and I would say that you first need to examine your heart and motivations for giving. Are you cheerfully giving or coming up with an excuse not to? And secondly, if you REALLY don’t trust your church financially, that’s a problem that you should address with your leadership.

I love that the believers in Macedonia gave beyond their means and begged Paul to take it for the saints. What a precious blessing that must have been for them! And what a great example for us.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2019 in church, uncategorized

 

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Loving Christ’s Bride

Church can be a lonely place for some people. I would argue that church can be especially lonely for a single person. Even a simple thing like, “Where should I sit today?” is a stark reminder that you are by yourself in the huge sanctuary. (I just attach myself to a family 🙂 )

Sometimes though, I think we make it lonelier than it should be because we aren’t obeying God’s Word. Clear as mud? When I moved to Ohio and switched churches, it was kind of lonely. I’m by myself out here in a church where basically everyone else is related to someone else in the church. No kidding. And to be clear, I’m a faithful church-goer. Sundays and Wednesdays and small group. So what was missing? It hit me this week.

It seems to me that the trend in church talk is all about “connection” and being “plugged-in” but there’s a lot of people that certainly don’t feel plugged-in. Churches want to make sure you are at service and in a small group. But not as much is said about serving. And I really think that is the key. THAT is how you get to know your church on a deep level. Maybe it’s not always fun but it’s worth it in so many ways!

Let me give you an example: I’m on the Outreach Committee at my church. It’s something I’m passionate about. If you’ve heard me talk about it recently though, you probably heard some complaining out of me. Why? We had a big event that we planned for last weekend. And we planned it in a very short amount of time so it took a lot of communication, most of which happens over text. I don’t have service at work so all of my texts come in as I drive home. Text after text after text. My record JUST FROM THE COMMITTEE is 49. It was a little bit overwhelming. Whine, Whine, Whine.

So the event came and it went really well, if I do say so myself! But looking back, do you want to know what the biggest blessing was? All that dang communication beforehand! I literally cannot believe I just said that! But seriously, THAT’S where I got to see the hearts of the people I was serving with, where I learned to love them more, and where our unity grew. And out of that grew a deeper love for the body of Christ and our Lord himself.

What a beautiful thing! What a blessing serving your church really is. So I would encourage you that if you are feeling a little lonely at church, yes, make sure you are going to service and small group. But also, SERVE.

You don’t want to miss out on it.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2019 in church

 

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The Idols of Life

If you don’t live in Ohio (or northeast US for that matter), maybe you don’t know that we had a wonderful, huge snow storm come through this weekend. It was great. Everything was closed, no traveling, the works. Which for someone who LOVES snow, that means that I spent the days with friends: sled riding, watching movies, playing games, and making waffles. It was superb.

It also meant that all the churches were closed on Sunday so my best friend and I decided to watch a sermon online. The one we watched was about idols. The argument was that although people may have a variety of “surface” idols in their life (aka: food, money, kids, clothes, cars, you-name-it), they all boil down to four “core” idols. Have to say, I couldn’t really find a whole lot of Scriptural backing for this idea but the logic was okay.

The first idol he mentioned was Comfort and the second was Approval. As he explained I really examined my heart and thought, “Nah, I don’t think those apply a whole lot. Probably sometimes.”

The third idol was Control. As soon as he said that word, I look at Natalie and said, “Weeeeelllll, this has been great but I just remembered that…” Yeah, I didn’t get away with it. She pulled me down and said that if she had to listen to her idols I had to sit through mine. *sigh*

We both know. I like control. I’m very organized and structured naturally and it gives me a feeling that I can control the world. One of the things he mentioned in the video is that people with this idol often will do everything because they would rather do it themselves and be SURE it will get done than have someone else do it. Ouch, man. That hurt. I literally winced.

And the problem with this idol is the blatant lack of trust is displays. A lack of dependency and trust in the Lord. Like somehow I can do things better than he can and I know better than the Creator of the World. But I don’t. And boy did God have to YANK that control right out of my hands in order to teach me that! These last couple of years have taught me just how little control I have. (And how much he DOES have!)

Sometimes I need a good smack…err…reminder that I’m not in control and of Who is. And of how grateful I should be for that!

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Prov. 19:21

P.S. The fourth idol was Power. 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2019 in sermons

 

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