Thursday, November 3, 2011

I don't have a good before story.

One of the most effective tools of relating with people is through your story. I love to hear people's stories. Lunches that last for 2 hours, dinners that turn in to hanging out until midnight, and coffee that sees at least 2 refills are my favorite. My problem is, for a long time, I didn't want to share my story.

I didn't think it was good enough.

My story wasn't radical or life changing so there was no point in sharing it.

I grew up in a Christian home with loving parents, I never went cold or hungry, and I always got more than I needed at Christmas time.

I never got drunk at high school parties, tried drugs, or gave myself away to a bunch of different guys.

In my mind, I was way better off than some people I grew up with and my story was simple and ineffective when it came to impacting someone else's life. I've met many people that were caught up in sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll that had met the Lord and had a total 180 life change. That wasn't me. And in my mind my story wasn't good enough.

The reality is I'm not perfect, I sin daily, I struggle with pride, I struggle with anxiety, I don't trust the Lord as I should, I'm not always content in singleness, and I stress about my future.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
2 Corinthians 5:17-21

I'm a sinner, saved by God's amazing grace. That makes my story valuable. The old in me has passed away and the new has come! I am reconciled through Christ to God and am given the ministry of reconciliation. I have been commissioned to share my story; to share with those around me the amazing love, and grace of God that has brought me near to Him and pray that those around me come to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge and be filled with the fullness of God.

Take away? Your story matters. Because of Christ in you, you matter.

Don't be afraid to share your "before." You never know who might need to hear it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

where do we go wrong?

So, this week I am on a mission trip with my home church. The trip is called 3MT which stands for Mid Missouri Mission Team. This is our first time participating in 3MT and we have a lot of youth from our county which is so encouraging to me!
Last night after our commissioning service, we broke off in to small groups and we were asked to share our name & why we were here. Most kids went through the motions, some said for renewal, others said they were tired of complacency. Then I met a special guy. He gave his name then said he was tired of people picking on him. Tired of church goers in his high school never sticking up for him. Tired of being called names. Tired of not understanding why the body of Christ wasn't serving him.

Where have we gone wrong church?

I've never met this boy before last night, but I know his story. It's all too familiar. To many "kids" are just pushed aside and never taught to BE the body. And because of that, classmates don't meet Jesus. Boys with speech impediments get picked on and no one steps up to serve the least of these.

My prayer this week is that the Lord would use this guy to teach us all to serve like Christ. May he not feel like an outcast at the end of this week.

May we be the hands & feet of Christ.
And may the church step up & teach young people, through word AND deed, what it means to be the salt & light if the world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Michael W. Smith was on to something...

Gospel centered friendship is something that has been weighing on me greatly the past few weeks. What can this really look like in my life? First I think it's important to understand what Christian friendship should be.

It should be:
  • compassionate
  • selfless
  • servant driven
Compassionate: Romans 12:15--"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Plain and simple. When my friend is rejoicing, I am to rejoice with them. When they are hurting, I should be hurting. If I'm not doing these things, I seriously need to examine whether or not my friendship toward them is what it should be.

Selfless: 1 Corinthians 13 is typically known for being the "love" chapter of the Bible. The type of love this particular passage is talking about is agapē love, which in Greek literally means "brotherly love"...aka, friendship! Verse 4 in the ESV says, "It [love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful." Basically, it isn't selfish. It's selfless. If I am being the type of person that always insists on getting their way in a friendship, I'm not following biblical principles laid out in scripture that clearly tell me to give of myself.

Servant Driven: John 13:3-5--"Jesus...rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him." Long story short, I am to follow Jesus' example and serve my friends. Whether it's washing their feet, driving them to Wal-Mart, or whatever it may be I need to be serving my friends...or at least be willing to.

Over the past few weeks these principles have been modeled in my life amazingly. And not by me. By my friends.
I truly believe, with all my heart, that the Lord has placed the most amazing people in my life to be my friends. From one sending me encouraging rap lyrics that he wrote earlier in the day to another simply calling and telling me she's praying for me, the friendships I have in my life have been blowing me away lately!

So what's the take away? Examine whether or not your friendships are selfish, or selfless. Do you have other's best interest at heart?
Don't let friendship become a one-way street.

Father, I thank You so much for the friends you have placed in my life--friends that encourage me and keep me accountable. Lord, teach me to be a better friend. Show me my faults and correct them in me. Teach me to serve my friends in a selfless way.

ps. the Michael W. Smith song "Friends" really has nothing to do with this post, but it's about friendship...and I thought it was a clever title :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

where's my worth?

A theme that has been popping up in my life a lot lately is: identity.
1) What is it?
2) Where does it come from?

As to what identity is, I think when you ask someone in general conversation they would say that your identity is "who you are." Often when I think of identity the first thing that comes to mind is "value." Is your worth found in your identity? I would answer with a resounding YES! That's why it's so important to understand and know with certainty where our identity comes from!

So, where does it come from and how do we get it? First and foremost, as a Christian my identity is found in Christ alone; however, too often we become like Israel in Hosea 13:2-"they..make for themselves metal images, idols skillfully made of their silver."
Rather than our identity coming from Christ, it comes from what we can do ourselves; what can I make/do/achieve that will up my status/worth and make me a better person.
Selfish mentality.

The following is an excerpt from a class handout I received this semester:

"[The principles] for locating our identity (worth) in Christ alone and in nothing else (our jobs, our pedigrees, our wealth, our intelligence, etc.) are:

  • We are beloved by God. In the book, 'What's so Amazing about Grace,' the author, Phillip Yancey says this, 'there is nothing that we can do in which God will love us less, there is nothing we can do in which God will love us more, He loves us.'
  • Progressive sanctification says, 'It will take a long time for us to actually believe this.' We often believe that God loves us (this love was supremely illustrated by His son's death on our behalf) but we do not appropriate this truth.
  • When we fully appropriate the meaning of 'God's love for us,' we can stop being fake and we become REAL!"
Professional Orientation; Some universals for all Servant Leaders: Identity;
Professor Bobo's Ruminations, Spring 2011

As Christians, when we come to truly understand the love and grace of God, we can't help but feel overwhelmingly valuable!! The Bible says in Zephaniah 3:17-"He [the Lord] will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."
Do we get that?! Do we truly find our identity in the Lord of Lords singing a loud love song to us?

Too often we (I) try to find our identities in our relationships with friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, job, athletics, schoolwork, approval, etc. Too often I think, "Wow, why am I not good enough
to help with this project...
to be with this guy...
to get this grade...
to be on that team...
to get that job..."

My identity should not be in these things. My identity is in Christ. And when I fully come to understand that, that project/guy/grade/team/job won't matter.
I will matter because of who I am in Christ.
I DO matter because of who I am in Christ.

From the song, "Beautiful" by Bethany Dillon:
"You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful"

Lord, help me to find my identity in You and only You. Open my ears to hear Your love song over me and understand that I am Your beloved.

Keep on keepin on-

Monday, February 21, 2011


Tonight kicked off lindenwood.campus.revival.

There has been a yearning on the campus of Lindenwood University for the Gospel of Christ to take root in the hearts of students and for those students to go out, being salt and light in the world.

love. community.
that's what tonight was about.

Savior, He really can move mountains.
My prayer is that my campus, my friends, and myself would allow Him to move in and through my life and use me to move mountains!

One of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed on my college campus in the past couple of years has been men worshiping the Lord and not being ashamed of it. It really warms my heart when men aren't afraid to be men.
Thank you for that!

AJ beautifully opened up the night by reading about the death of Christ and His cross.
If our lives aren't cross centered, what are they?
It's all about the cross.
It's all about Christ.
We have hope because He died, and rose again, defeating death.

May our hearts be revived and compelled by the love of Christ.