The Heart Issue

Another shooting took place last week.

Friends and Family are grieving.

I am angry. I am saddened.

And social media is flooded with anger and sadness.

And what has become platitudes.

Thoughts & Prayers has become the throw away line. Something an intern can tweet out quickly when a tragedy occurs.

Following it is this is a heart issue. I don’t disagree that this a heart issue. From the accounts of Nickolas Cruz he had a history of disturbing behavior. Several times over the years tips and complaints were placed on him. Investigators from DCF cleared him.

Absolutely his heart lead him to take his gun into the school last Wednesday. Evil exists and it will rear its ugly head no matter what is done.

But by posting or saying it’s a heart issue, it then negates any examination of our own hearts. Of the things that we seek out for security. It points to the other instead of facing the truth of our own hearts and motivations.

I too am also examining my heart as I walk through this anger and sadness. It hasn’t helped watching things unfold, as details emerge from that day.

There is so much anger. Comment sections devolve into name calling and dehumanizing each other. Our words matter. The heart behind our words matter.

When it’s said this is a heart issue, I too believe we must also examine our reactions. The things we post, the comments made reveal where our own hearts stand. How we care and treat each other . What is it we want to believe about the other side? What will be lost if we learn we aren’t entirely right or wrong.

As I work through all of this I pray. I believe in a big God who can do anything. I believe in the comfort He can bring to us . In the Hope only God can bring.

I also believe in action. In calling for change in our laws. In having real discourse with each other to really understand our fears on either side. Because This doesn’t need to happen, this isn’t inevitable.

Love and Hate

I attended church yesterday with a heavy heart, the events of Saturday in Charlottesvile, VA at the forefront of my mind. I was not however surprised. Racism is something that will always exist in this broken world. My pastor spoke that love and hate are intertwined. I cannot disagree, love is powerful and can be good. It means caring and wanting the best for the thing I love.

But

What do I love so much that I would hate? It’s a valid question. If my family or friends are hurt, I hate what hurts them.

So

As I look at my newsfeed on various social media outlets, and I look at the chilling photos of well dressed white men holding torches and seig heiling ( not sure of the proper verbage for it). I wonder how much do they love the idealogy of whiteness to hate the rest of God’s creations?

For we are all image bearers. My saviour was not white. He was on earth a middle eastern Jewish man who brought salvation to all.

One cannot be of two minds. You either love God and therefore love all. Or hate God and love the few. What you love is what you are most passionate about, what you expend time and energy on. If you are more passionate arguing on social media about things that attack your comfort than  in working to love God and others than perhaps its time to reevaulate what you are truly loving. The heart is a decitful thing, and idol maker and can lead people away from God.

This weekend’s past events in addition to other events have made it evident that there are many who love the idealogy of whiteness over all. The death of Heather Heyer happened because a man so full of hate drove into a crowd on purpose. Because what he loves overrides the diginity of others. Because what he worships was being attacked in his mind.

I pray for him to repent and have  a Paul moment ( Act 9:1-19). Paul was a man called Saul who persecuted Christians until Christ intervened, causing him to be blinded for a period of time. When he was able to see again, he saw the truth of who he had been and became someone new. I truly believe that people can change, to learn to love something beyond their own comforts.

My first inclination is to hate these people right back. I am angered and saddend but not surprised. I must fight against this because how can I claim to love Christ if I hate who he created? How can people meet Jesus if I am not willing to see them as people in need of Him?

I love God and therefore I fight against hate. I will do so by how I know best, my words. I will continue to work in my community loving people because they need love. I will engage in hard conversations and not back down. I will listen and read as I have been. I have much to learn and much to love. Most of all much to be in prayer for my own heart, my community and this nation.

I pray for there to be more love of God then of self preservation.

Books I have been reading

Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Bryan Fikkert

The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

White Trash  The 400 year untold story of class in America by Nancy Isenberg

 

The Inconvience Factor

Inconviences can suck. They steal away time and chip away at my comfort. I had an afternoon of inconviences, so many little things piled onto each other that at one point some unholy words emerged from my mouth. What I wanted was kept out of reach for me and I did not like it. Often times I can become upset with things and most often it is not for any other reason than that I am not getting what I want at that moment.

It can bring the worst out of me. But I have learned the most from being inconvienced in my life. Even that day where it felt as if ALL the things went wrong. In some ways they did, and in other ways they went right. I had to remind myself that what I was dealing with was temporary.

But sometimes the inconviences do have long lasting effects. Some are good as I have learned and been challenged in my life. Learning from these kinds of moments has lead to the biggest breakthroughs for me. By asking myself the questions behind why am I so upset? Why is it so important for this to happen now?

Sometimes I know what that answer is, and other times it takes some digging to reveal it. Following Jesus is full of inconviences. I have been stretched to reach past what I know and go into the unknown. I remember the first time I was asked to lead a Bible study, it was scary. Being responsible for helping others follow Jesus when one isn’t 100% confident is difficult.

Leading a group can be inconvenient as anything. It means setting aside time to study up for the week, follow up with group members and spending time conveying information to them. Caring for people is inconvenient isn’t it though? It means having to stop what you had planned to do in order to care for them.

Jesus isn’t about convenience, following him doesn’t fall into a neat slot on the schedule. The lessons that stemmed from being inconvenienced have helped me to grow in my faith. Molding me into the person I am today and the person I will be ten years from now.

Life if full of inconveniences, varying in degrees. Some are small such as I experienced on that day. Others are larger, which I have also experienced in my life. They have made me slow down in the moment and think about what is happening behind it all. It’s not the inconveniences that matter themselves, but what I can learn from them. To look at them as opportunites rather than not.

Holy and Good

Yesterday I celebrated the Resurection with all my family. It was a great day all around. Full of laughter, friends, food and most of all a needed reminder that I am living not for today but the promise of everlasting life. This is why I am a Christian.

I cannot explain the mystery of why I am so certain that all this is real. All I can say is that I have felt since I was small child that there is something bigger than myself. Watching over me, caring for me, loving me. No matter what has was going on in, I was protected and safe.

You can read more about my journey in this post

I am in a posture of learning for this year and from this place I see I am surrounded by so much pain. We all carry unseen scars that lay hidden behind learned coping mechanisms. In this pain that I too carry, there is Holy and Good.

I have always believed in the Holy and Good. In something greater than myself, a mystery beyond my full understanding. Even in the midst of my hardships and pain throughout my life, this I have always believed in. It has been nearly ten years since I stepped forward during Easter services longing for Christ. In that time I have faltered and failed God many, many times. The struggles and hardships have shown me the Holy and Good.

When the noise from the world seems only full of vitral and anger, I believe in the Holy and Good. It is there, in the corners that are not easily seen. I think too there is confusion over something being hard, and if its hard it cannot be good. I have walked through hard and seen my friends and family do so too. Hard does not mean that good work is not being done.

[Tweet “By leaning into the pain of my life, holy work is done and good has come from it”]

By leaning into the pain of my life, holy work is done and good has come from it This is the work that sanctifies me and prepares me for what is ahead in this journey for me. My life is not just about today but also tomorrow. Today will be forgotten and I shall be made new. So I live for that day in great anticipation, in the Holy and Good.

Isaiah 65:17

“See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.

 

 

In A Place of Learning

1 Corinthians 15: 58

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast,immovable,always abounding in the work of the Lord,knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Recently I learned that I have a lot to learn. It was during a during a breakout session while attending a conference  for Youth For Christ. We were discussing what works in doing ministry in the city. I am new to working with a ministry serving in my city. I work for Miami Youth For Christ as a tutor for elementary school kids in the KIX program ( Kids in Christ).I have served at church leading small groups, organizing the young adults and helping lead setting up each Sunday. But this is a different kind of work.  While I have volunteered over the years with this organization. Last fall I was offered a position as staff. All of it is work for the glory of God.

I struggle with not feeling qualified to do this work. That somehow I need to do have done more to be here. To help kids with their homework while showing them the love of Christ. That I don’t know enough to do this work. But then I remember that God qualifies me. He is the one who created me to do this kind of work. In the talents and abilities. In creating a patience within me that I have doubted was there. Most of all recognizing that I have a lot to learn is a good place to be at. It means I am open to learning more, being able to forgive mistakes I may  WILL make during this school year.

I look forward to what this year will bring. Hanging out with these kids during the week. Helping them play, learn and understand who they are in Christ. Getting to be a part of this is a huge blessing. God is at work in this place, in the community we serve. He is there during the games, laughter and learning. He has provided this safe place for the kids to come and us to love on them. The scripture at the top of the post is an encouragement from our staff training. To see the bigger picture of what God is doing in this place as we do this work in this mission field.

If you would like to learn more about this ministry, visit the Miami website of Miami Youth for Christ.

Would you pray for this school year? This community in Miami and this ministry to serve God well. For His love and truth to shine through their lives. I would appreciate such prayers!

 

Prayer Is The First Action


Prayer is a powerful thing. I have seen its power in my own life and those around me. Amazing things have happened, blessings that come after trials.

But prayer is misunderstood. Either the belief that prayer fixes everything, instantly. That if we do not get what we ask for then it is all bollox.  When we view it as an all or nothing easy fix then we in turn limit the power of prayer. Boxing it in to specified parameters, not allowing for God to work.

A friend once said she never says Amen, because she saw praying as continual and never ceasing. I have adapted this same attitude in my prayer life.

Prayer has been the most transformative act of my life. By seeking God continually, I have been challenged to change and grow. I learned so much of who God intended for me to become. I cannot imagine my life without prayer.

It is not to say it is easy to always believe. When bad things happen to ones we love or long for good things for ourselves. Then there is another shooting, or bombing. A flood or storm sweeps a town away. Hashtag pray for _________ begin to surface throughout social media. Or some variation there of.

It seems to proliferate so much that it can become trite, no matter how heartfelt the message. What can it really matter to post it? Does #prayfor_________ lose it’s intention the more we post it?

The answer is that grey area in between. Between what we want and what God is doing. This is where the tension lies doesn’t it? We want things to be better, so we pray. We want things to be good or go well, so we pray. We plead why and get angry, so we pray.

Prayer doesn’t give us what we want but what we need.  This can be a hard pill to swallow. Getting what is needed as opposed to what ww want isn’t nearly as fun. It’s not about that instant result but instead one that comes from time.

I believe in the power of prayer. That miracles do happen and this life is less than when prayer is left out of it.

Prayer should be our first action but not our only reaction. If anything, prayer should push us into action.[Tweet “Prayer should be our first action but not our only reaction. If anything, prayer should push us into action.”]

Prayer is powerful. I have seen its power in my own life, working in the most unexpected ways. It can be hard as we see the same things happen again and again. As news becomes seemingly more grim, the idea of prayer without results we want is a hard one to understand. It is one of the mysteries of prayer, that at times there are no instant or easy answers. Pray can sometimes feel as if one is treading water, not going forward or going backwards. Other times prayer moves mountains, things change or move in ways that God’s hand is undeniable.

Story Monday: The Story of Christmas

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The first Monday of each month I focus on story. Today, I am focusing in on the story of Christmas.

It is hard to miss the fact that it is Christmas season. Decorations have been put up, party inventations are being sent out, Christmas music is playing non stop in the stores. Beyond all this glitter is a deeper story. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy all the glittery aspects of this time of year. Watching my favorite Christmas themed films and specials. Spending time with family and friends while enjoying the tastes of this season. Perhaps a bit too much at times.

In all of the hustle and bustle of this month, running from one event to another that this is also a season of waiting and anticipation. Forgetting the story and reason behind all the glitter.

It is a story of God choosing to reconcile us to him. Leaving behind the security of heaven to come down to earth in the form of a human. To live and suffer amongst us. To experience all the joys, happiness, sadness and struggles. All the while knowing we would betray him, misunderstand him, and forget. Yet, he still chose to rescue us.

As I consider and savor the story of Christmas. I keep running into that word, chose. God chose to reconcile us with Him. He chose all that would follow.

This is my reflection this advent season, as I read through my devotional, as I ponder the gifts to make and decorate. I find myself stopping moment to moment to simply ponder. To stand in awe. God chose to come down to us. To meet us in our mess and sin.

How wonderful is that? This is a story of hope being delivered to us. A time of anticipation and reflection. In the midst of the busyness of this season, don’t forget the story behind Christmas.

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