Wednesday, August 31, 2011

For All the Stay At Home Moms- Or anyone who sometimes feels like they're under House Arrest :)

Acts 28:30-31
30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! 

In reading Acts a few months ago I came across a verse that totally rocked my world and changed my perspective in a huge way.  You see, I'm a stay at home mom, for the most part.  This new chapter of my life came pretty abruptly, as does the birth of a new child.  Suddenly, your entire world is filled with change and just when you thought you were getting the hang of life you realize that you are back to square one.

Talk about a rude awakening.  In fact, it's an awakening that occurs every hour of the day...and even every hour of the long, sleepless first few months:)

Being a new mom comes with so many changes and adjustments...but being a stay-at-home mom is a whole-nother-level of change.  Not only does your entire world change, now revolving around this tiny human being...but so does your entire occupation.

I don't think anyone can really appreciate what that actually means unless they have gone through it.  All of a sudden the area in which you are an expert no longer seems to exist- and you are thrown into a new job with new rules, a new boss (mine was 7 lbs- but still demanding), a new location...and no orientation to get you accustomed.

The demands of being a mom are never ending (but, are the sweet, sweet joys). 

But I know for me, there have been many days in which I wondered how God was going to use me in this new phase of life.  No more adventure-filled mission trips to Africa.  No more visiting the projects and going door to door meeting some of the sweetest people I will ever know.  No more spending months in 3rd world countries, hours at an orphanage, or late night conversations with friends in need.

For some people, they might have the superpowers to accomplish all those things....but not for me.  The birth of my daughter brought many changes to my life.  It ushered me into a new season.

I have been on a journey of finding God's will for me in this season of my life.  Now, don't get me wrong, I think being a mom- and being a good one at that- is enough of a purpose for any hard working mom.  But for me, I had entered a season in which I felt that there was more.  My soul was thirsty for more.

And then, I stumbled across this incredible, incredible passage. 

I've read the stories of Paul's journey's in bringing the gospel to the world plenty of times.  But never did I really grasp the fact that two years of his most significant ministries was spent in the city of Rome, under house arrest after being ship wrecked.

For two years, Paul was not allowed to leave his home...but that didn't stop him from having significant impact on the kingdom of God and loving on the people around him.  For two years Paul proclaimed the name of Christ within the walls of his own home, accepting visitors, and welcoming friends into his home.  He encouraged them, loved on them, and shared with them the hope that he had in Jesus...

That clicked with me in a large way. 

You see, there are times that because of the demands of a baby and life as a mom that I, too, feel as though I'm under "house arrest".  Now granted, being a mom is nothing like prison.  It is a joy and a blessing to invest in our children and I wouldn't trade it for the world.  But as far as the flexibility, freedom, and spontaneity I used to such thing anymore. 

My world is limited by the sweet little child that God has blessed me with.  She is my world, and she comes first.  That said, as much as I would love to be "free" in living my life...nap times, bed times, and feeding times come first!

Talk about a sort of house arrest.  

But God opened my eyes in a huge way by showing me that just like Paul, I can be free to do God's work through my life no matter WHERE I am or what season of my life I am in.  I want to take that challenge and really live a life that reflects the love of Jesus to the world around me right within the walls of my own home. 

The past few months, just like Paul, I have made it my calling to really use my home as a place of ministry.  I have opened my home to friends for lunch, for prayer meetings, bible studies, coffee dates, play dates and dinner gatherings.  I have used this place as a way to share all that God has given me with the people around me, and to teach all that God is teaching me.  And in turn, God has opened my eyes to the people that really do need this kind of hospitality and love.  They're all over the place if you take the time to look for them. 

We can be used by God no matter where He has placed us....because He has placed us there for a purpose.  

My prayer for you is that God renews your passion for this specific season in your life.  Whether working a dead-end job, studying, a stay at home mom, career, or looking for a career...God has placed you in this season of life for a purpose.  Be open to what He has for you, be open to His calling on your life.  Because no one else can do what God has created you to do.  

Can I get an Amen?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Suicide, Bridges, and Hope:

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

On our way home this weekend, we drove past some interesting signs over the Tappan Zee Bridge.  

"Life is Worth Living"  and "When it seems like there is no hope, there is help".

You see, the Tappan Zee Bridge has been the unfortunate tool by which at least 25 men and women have chosen to take their lives over the past decade.  When the pain and struggle of their lives became seemingly unbearable, they tragically jumped to their deaths. 

Since these deaths, four "LifeLine" phones have been placed on the bridge in an effort to give people hope.  These signs are meant to draw passerby's who may have given up to picking up the phone and talking to someone who cares.

It was sobering to think that the very bridge that we were crossing toward our destination, was the very same bridge that housed these hopeless men and women in the last hours of their lives. It puts things into perspective, doesn't it? 

I know that for me, one thing I came away with that evening is the challenging truth that I need to be the "lifeline" in the lives of the people around me. 

It's so easy to live our lives with blinders on, completely unaware of the pain and struggles of the people around us.  Our culture tends to take a "don't ask, don't tell" mentality to our struggles, and the Christian community has allowed that mentality to seep into our own lives.  But how will we ever know, unless we really take the time to find show some concern...and to allow our self-absorbed self to take a moment off in order to look into the eyes of another.

The truth is, every action and every word that we communicate to the world around us is an opportunity to offer some sort of hope and healing.  A hope that loves us despite of our weaknesses, a hope that has never seen a problem to great, a pain too deep, or a mess too big.  A hope that doesn't know the meaning of impossible, nor does it have room for the shame of our past.  A hope that is founded in the love of God the Father through the life of Jesus Christ.

According to Romans 15:13, we should be so filled with this hope that it is overflowing from our lives...

Overflowing.  Out of our own life, and spilling into the lives of others.

Are you filled with that kind of hope?  Have you ever allowed that level of Hope to infiltrate your life?

May God fill our brokenness with Hope, a hope that is true, a hope that is real, a hope that is pouring out and overflowing into the lives of those around us.  

Related Post: God, Google, and Suicide

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Silent but deadly: The Danger of Mute Christians

Acts 1:8
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Last evening at our bible study we were discussing the phrase: "Preach the gospel; if necessary use words".  

Though I believe in the underlying message behind that phrase (i.e. As Christians, our actions alone should set us apart in how we live and love so much so that we don't even have to talk about it), I find myself revolting against the idea of being silent with my words. 

The truth of the matter is, when I look at my life and the lives of Christians around me- there is one very wrong thing that I see we all have in common most of the time:  silence.

We have grown accustomed to the idea of living our lives as mute believers. 

This wouldn't be a problem if we were actually preaching the gospel with our lives, but the sad reality is that most of the time- we aren't.  We aren't preaching anything.  We are living a life that is in  total conformity to the culture that we are a part of.  We belong so well that these days there is no difference between the nice guy in the other cubicle, and the born again Christian next door (except sometimes the nice guy is nicer than the born again Christian). 

I don't know about you, but I see that this life of silence is completely opposed to the lives I see lived out in the book of Acts through the early church.  Not only were they opposed to silence....they were LOUD.

They lived their lives out loud, proclaiming the their devotion to the God that had changed their entire existence, redeemed them from a life of sin and death, and given them joy unspeakable.  They couldn't stop talking about it.  It consumed their every conversation because it just boiled over from the love that was overflowing within their hearts. 

I think our main problem as Christians is that we are a little like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of OzWe are lacking a heart of love for the world that is in devastation all around us.  We are too concerned with what people will think and the negative consequences we might incur by really living our faith out loud.  In other words, our fear of man supersedes our fear of God.  Our fear of man is preventing us from actually loving them.  Ironically, we take on these priorities without even realizing that we are ultimately in devotion to this world, serving man, and worshiping a culture that we were never even meant to be a part of. 

If God has so radically changed our lives like we say He has, then something needs to change.  We need to live a life of power that's sole purpose is to preach the gospel and bring love to a broken and dying world.  It's time to take inventory of our silence and take the time to really address it at it's root. 

Speak up, Christian.  What are you afraid of?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Those Are Some Very Nice Ashes:

Isaiah 61:3
To give them a crown in place of ashes, oil of joy in place of mourning, praise in place of discouragement... 

I found myself getting discouraged last week.  It was one of those weeks in which I felt overwhelmed by the suffering and sorrow around me.  Not sure if you know this, but people are hurting in some really serious ways.  Friends, family, and clients.  It was just one of those days.  I had just finished listening to stories of brokenness, pain, and sadness only to be ushered into more. 

Sometimes it seems as though all this life has to offer is pain.  The truth is, I almost gave into that discouragement. 

And then I saw God at work. 

I met a young man recently who is climbing out of some serious pain...into something beautiful.  I see God at work in His life, and I am watching Him take this pile of ashes- and turn them into something incredible. 

I witnessed an artist a few months ago, take some dirty ashes on a plain piece of paper- and within just a few moments, out of the ashes I could see the most incredible picture.  She painted the most beautiful painting I had ever seen.

I'm reminded of this painting as I witness the life of this young man.  I'm reminded of a God who takes the most horrific and twisted pile of ashes we have to offer- put them into his nail pierced hands, and begin to work.  It takes paint to create something nice, but it takes ashes to create something incredibly beautiful.  The real beauty lies in the artist's ability to create something out of nothing. 

It's true.  He can do that.  And he does it every day.  I need to remember that as I look into the pain of the people around me, and as I look into the sorrows from my own life.  For every person caught in a pit of ashes, there is the hope for something beautiful. 

Will you allow Him to begin his masterpiece?