Acts 9

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I work in NYC and last night I got a group text that I didn’t want to see. It was a warning from a friend of a friend who works at the Pentagon, telling us to stay away from the subways because they had gotten a threat that the subways were being targeted for a terrorist attack.

 

Now obviously no one wants to get that news. But as someone who has suffered from anxiety I didn’t want to hear that.

 

The cool thing about the Holy Spirit and time, is that I was not afraid. For once I was not afraid. Now granted I take medicine for anxiety. And granted I have walked a journey with God where I was in the midst of the worst bout of anxiety two years ago. But I was happy that my spirit kicked in instead of my flesh.

 

This is not to praise me. This is to praise God.

 

You see in the seasons where you are suffering you are planting seeds that you will harvest later on. Meaning I learned in a dark season what it means to pray and rely so fully and completely on God in the midst of feeling like your world and your mind and your body are falling apart.

 

But in the moment. In the group text. People were saying thanks and preparing to avoid the subways and something in me, I believe the Holy Spirit, prompted me to reply: “No weapon formed. I pray against the attack, for a change of heart. For the perpetrators to encounter Jesus instead.”

 

I typed it so fast and without thinking that after I looked at my words I was like…wow. I’ve changed.

 

It’s so easy to panic. To let the work of terrorism do it’s worst and cripple us. To make us afraid to commute or to go out in public or see a movie or a concert or go to school. But I think ultimately, we need to remember to pray. I don’t want to be killed, no one does. But as Christians we know where we are going. And that is enough. And beyond that we know we can call on the name of Jesus and pray for the atmosphere to change and for people to have a revelation of God that will alter the course they are on.

 

I was prompted this morning to look up the salvation of Saul. You can look this up for yourself in Acts 9. Here is a portion from the Message:

Acts 9 (MSG)

The Blinding of Saul

1-2 All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem.

3-4 He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?”

5-6 He said, “Who are you, Master?”

“I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.”

7-9 His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn’t see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing.

10 There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.”

“Yes, Master?” he answered.

11-12 “Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.”

13-14 Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

15-16 But the Master said, “Don’t argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews. And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for—the hard suffering that goes with this job.”

17-19 So Ananias went and found the house, placed his hands on blind Saul, and said, “Brother Saul, the Master sent me, the same Jesus you saw on your way here. He sent me so you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes—he could see again! He got to his feet, was baptized, and sat down with them to a hearty meal.

I find this so comforting. Terrorism was in the Bible. As it said “Saul” or “ISIS” or any terrorism group was “breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill.” We see this today with beheadings or the random killings of any of God’s children, Christian or not we are all God’s children. And despite his rage and history, God stopped him in his tracks and changed His life.

 

Luckily nothing happened in the city today. I worshipped the entire ride to my Hillsong music as I normally do. I refused to worry. I prayed. And I don’t think it was just me who “stopped” the terror threat. I think it is all of us, praying diligently who can change the game. Who can advocate for people who are lost and thinking that what they are doing to people in the world is appeasing God and is the right thing to do.

 

Instead of worrying I want to pray for a radical salvation within terrorist groups. I want Jesus’s name to be lifted above all.

 

As my Colour Invitation for this year says I want love to be the last great thing to shock the world.

 

I know Jesus isn’t worried about the state of things. I always want to remember that. And I want to pray for radical conversion and miracles to occur in the hearts of the people who are committing these heinous acts of terrorism.

 

Jesus can stop anyone in their tracks and set them on the right path.

 

Let’s believe for it.

The Life I See

As I was drifting off to bed last night after a long work day I had two thoughts:

 

  1. I’m missing my #100daycreativechallenge post
  2. I’m feeling delusionally inspired to write a mini manifesto for the life I want

 

I’m equally tired and delirious tonight but not only do I want to write my life manifesto but I also owe myself and the creative challenge a post for today.

 

So here’s what I will write for The Life I see:

I see a life that is filled with laughter and purpose

I see a life that contains a family fully focused on Jesus and His kingdom

I see a life with a family of sons and daughters

I see a life with a  family of adopted sons and daughters

I see a life of writing adventures inspired by God’s faithfulness

I see a life that includes people who are not included

I see a life that is filled with unexpected generosity

I see a life that has a home where anyone is welcome to stay

I see a life that contains travel and conferences and speaking engagements

I see a life that is ever focused on drawing closer to God

I see a life that never forgets its purpose

 

Porte Ouverte

I love all the humanity and bravery that has been happening within Paris in the wake of the tragedy. I prayed a really awesome prayer the other day, that of course had to have been the Holy Spirit, because I can’t remember it.

But I remember praying that while ISIS waits for fame, Jesus will be the one to get all the glory during this time.

When I saw the Buzzfeed article about the hashtag #PorteOuverte it blew me away.

In so many ways an open door is a blessing. An opportunity to advance yourself, a leg up financially, or in this case a free place to crash.

So much of what Jesus promises has to do with safety and rest.

I think we can all understand why tourists, or residents of Paris have needed shelter and a place to feel at home.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to witness the violence first hand, but in my simple way, I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed. Or depressed. Or tired. To need a place to unwind. To need to take a nap. To need to feel safe.

John 10:9 says “I am the door. If anyone enters by me he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

I think what people are doing for each other in Paris is amazing. When so many outsiders would expect them to feel fear and to shut themselves off, they have reached out to strangers to welcome them home.

In the face of tragedy I am glad Paris hasn’t forgotten their humanity.

 

My Child

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Matthew 18 (MSG)

Whoever Becomes Simple Again

18 At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”

2-5 For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.

I love the heart of my “adopted” Compassion child. Her name is Etsegenet and she is 6 years old. I send her one letter every month and I look forward to the letters I get from her.

I saw in my pile of mail yesterday that I had a new letter from her and was so excited to see what new information she had sent.

Let me tell you, man. Reading her letter cracked me up.

Last time she wrote to me she told me how she was praying for me to meet a handsome husband. PREACH child. Preach.

This time she reminded me that her family and her are both praying for my soulmate. Which is totally humbling. She lives in a village in Ethiopia and she is praying for ME. Still wild to think about.

She also surprised me by saying she is praying that one day I will have a beautiful daughter of my own. Wow. For now I am content to have her as my daughter.

She also wanted me to know she’s going to church and studying very hard and that her friends also send me their regards.

At this point I’m like “okay, my heart is full”. This little sweet girl is praying for me, and my future family, and that is more than enough.

BUT the funniest part is still to come.

If you have been following me for a while I’ve mentioned how I still struggle with my appearance. I think that’s partially just being a woman, partially because I struggled for some time with self-esteem after being cheated on, and partially because I’ve felt this way since I was a small girl. The last part is still hard for me to identify. Why have I always disliked my legs or my teeth for example. Why did this start so young? Did someone say something? You know? It’s hard to figure out.

Anyway, I don’t think I even mentioned that to my sponsored child. I’ll have to go through my online letters and see. But I literally laughed out loud, a literal LOL, when I reached the bottom of her letter.

Despite the fact that I don’t enjoy “selfies” or taking photos of myself, I’m trying to get more comfortable. And so, on occasion, I have shared from pictures of me at church with friends in my letters to my child.

Now brace yourself. If you look at the bottom of the picture I posted she said “I’ve not seen a beautiful lady like you on Earth.”

SAY WHAT?

I literally laughed. And as I’m writing this I still laugh. Because this is so funny! On one hand you can struggle with what you wish was more beautiful in yourself or how others see you and yet this cute little girl from halfway around the world is like, “hey lady, you’re the prettiest princess in all of the land.”

Am I right?

I’ve been the babysitter and nanny in my life, and let me tell you, children will tell you if you look like a mess that day. They are brutally honest. And yet this sweet girl is the apple of my eye. And for some odd reason thinks I’m the most beautiful woman in the Earth.

I share this because:

  1. It’s a funny story.
  2. I recommend adopting a child through Compassion.
  3. You can often feel like you don’t believe something about yourself but God has a funny way of using a child in the middle of nowhere around the world to bring you joy and compliments and love.
  4. God sees you and loves you and wants you to be a Matthew 18 child.

I pray that you speak love and words of life to someone in your world this week and if you are in need of that, I hope it comes to you from an unexpected place.

Closer Than You Know

The other day I was on my commute to work and I noticed some solar panels on the roof of someone’s home. I thought, does that even work in the winter?

You know what I mean?

Winter can be depressing. Trees are bare. The air is cold. It’s even harder to get out of your warm blankets in the morning. And, it seems as though the sun itself is hiding.

The winter sky looks grey. It always seems cloudy. It’s almost never bright and sunny.

Naturally, being the Google fanatic that I am, I decided to look it up. Would these panels actually get any energy at all? I was thrilled by the article I found here.

This line really caught my eye: “It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere and we’re at our closest point to the Sun. Closest? Yes, you read that right. Closest.”

That smacked me in the face.

I’m in a good season. It might be winter in season, but in my soul it is summer.

Hallelujah for that.

I love my job, I love my church, I love some fun things that are developing in my life. But I’ve been in the “sunless” seasons too. I’ve been in winter.

This article encouraged me because it pointed to a universal fact that while it might be winter in our lives we are actually at our closest to the Son. How cool is that? I truly believe everything points to the nature of God and this was just a simple reminder of that.

As the temperatures continue to drop and winter is in full force, I hope I can remember as I look out the window that it might look cloudy and grey but the Son is still shining just as bright.

The light is closer than you know.

100 Day Creative Challenge

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My Church is participating in a 100 Day Creative Challenge where we all try to be as creative as we can for 100 days straight.

I dont know how truly talented or interesting this will be but follow me on Instagram for all the 100 posts. I’m sure not all of it will be post worthy!

Feel free red to join me! Comment below with your info so I can follow your creative journeys.

Starbucks Red Cup

Considering I am online all day for my job, there are still some things that I don’t realize are happening on the news or the Twitterverse so to speak. I actually kind of like it better that way sometimes. I don’t need to know every little thing that people are in an uproar about. It’s not necessary to be upset about every little thing.

I write this post for two reasons.

  1. I am actually surprised by how upset Christians are over this issue
  2. I was accused by a friend of siding with those who are mocking our King and Jesus by expressing my opinion that this is not direct persecution of the Church.

I wish to make three brief points and then pray that this issue blows over. It’s a shame that this is causing accusations within a community of believers.

  • Starbucks sells coffee and does not owe it to any religion to support their holidays. Let that simmer. Now, I 100% believe in Jesus. He is the only way to Heaven and I am forever grateful that He died for my sins. However, I don’t believe that as an American company, Starbucks owes us a Christmas themed coffee cup. Over the years they have decorated their cup with snowmen, Christmas string lights, carolers, etc. Never have they claimed to agree with my religious beliefs or decorated (to my knowledge through Google) the cups with a manger, or a church, or baby Jesus. With that said, loads of retailers partake in the Christmas profit and will sell just about anything red or green or festive to reap the rewards of the holiday. However, if you go to any retail location, they do not owe you anything. If I go to a Jewish store, I’m not going to disrespect their beliefs and ask why they only have Hannukah items. I feel like this is the same thing. If God, knowing who He is, allowed us to have free will, I think I as a Christian, I can bestow that same grace to other people.
  • The color of a cup is not real persecution. I think we all realize as Americans that we are very privileged. We don’t know real suffering. We are not refugees, we are not being wiped out for worshipping Jesus, we are not being beheaded, we are not being kidnapped and sold into sex slavery, etc. Now that is a blanket statement. I know that. But I have a very hard time understanding why we feel like as a Church, not having a paper cup decorated to fit the Holidays compares to the current Refugee Crisis, the Egyptian Beheading, the Chibok school girl kidnapping, the number of yet to be rescued sex slaves,  the Nepal earthquake, etc. I feel like the fact that Christians see this as a crisis proves how lucky we are to not be experiencing actual persecution. We are able to gather on Sundays to worship Jesus, we are able to go to the grocery store or food pantry when we are hungry, we are able to lock the doors to our homes and apartment knowing we will not be stolen out of our beds. I believe strongly that when we elevate small issues like this we belittle the severity of the actual issues our brothers and sisters in the world are experiencing.
  • We should not fill each other’s mouths with words or motives. I don’t like the fact that Starbucks chose to color their cup red, and this has been blown up into a full fledged war on Christianity. It’s a cup. Maybe they liked the minimalism of a red cup and their green logo. It’s still Christmas-y. I also don’t like that people can’t express how silly this looks, like I did, without being accused of being worldly, or worse being lumped into the same category as those who mock Jesus. Jesus didn’t go around starting fights with people. Luckily God sees our hearts. I’m sure some Christians feel like they are defending God and their heart is pure, but some of what I am seeing happen to myself and others is not very Christ-like. This verse is perfect for what I am trying to say:

    Proverbs 17:9 (AMP)

    He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love,
    But he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.

If you are easily offended or trying to cause shame or blame, you or not seeking love. And you are causing dissension Romans 12 in the MSG also says it well “Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”. What I mean is, our culture loves to “roast” each other. Everything is a mockery or a debate or a shaming. No one separates their own beliefs from someone else’s to try to understand where they are coming from. Instead of assuming the worst or trying to change someone’s opinion I think it is important to listen. You can agree to disagree, you can share what you believe, but there is a certain tact to it. I feel that this is severely lacking in this Starbucks conversation.

Let us remember grace for others. Not everyone believes what we do. Not everyone is your enemy either. Don’t attack your brothers and sisters in Christ and likewise be willing to listen to those who do not have the same religion as you.

I’ll leave you this reminder of love:

1 Corinthians 13:5 (AMP)

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.