Monday, June 25, 2012

Riding the Wave of Yesterday

This is the first thing I read this morning when checking Facebook: "That awkward moment when you should be ready but aren't and you have to leave the house with wet hair....... Yeah, happy Monday everyone :/"

My status update would have read like this: "More like, that awkward moment when you should be ready but aren't because you're still in bed."

Yep.  That was me this morning.  And most Monday mornings.

Mondays suck.  We all know it.  There's no need to rehash the madness of Mondays. 

I'm taking Monday back!

While today may not have started off any different than the rest of my Mondays, today has been a good day.  The weather is gorgeous!  My customers were all friendly and in good spirits.  Dinner is in the oven and will be ready in 30 minutes.  It's the little things.  :)

But really, I'm just riding the wave of yesterday.  

The wave of life change.  

The wave of unity.

My spirit is so refreshed by what happened in small-town Kingston, Ohio.  My church - Centerpoint -  held it's second baptism service yesterday and it was AMAZING!  Over 20 people were dunked yesterday - men, women, children, families.

And the awesome thing is, it wasn't just "my" church.  It was THE church!  Centerpoint joined together with another local church - Church Triumphant - to hold the baptism service.  Our pastors, worship bands, and members all came together to work together as the body of Christ.  It was a beautiful thing.  A moment I'll never forget.

Out with the old.  In with the new.

That is my hope and prayer for the city of Chillicothe.  That we would buck the traditional mindset of the church that says "you do your thing and we'll do ours."  That we would do away with what doesn't work (doing things on our own) and be the church that Jesus wants us to be (working together in unity)!!

How was your Monday?  Let's work together to take Mondays back!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Salvation Is Simple, Or Is It?

It's week 2 over at Marla Taviano's summer read-a-long & boy are things getting hot!  OK, not really.  It's a friendly discussion.  But the questions are getting tough.  And I imagine that they're only going to get tougher as we go along.

This week we all read Chapters 1 & 2.  Both chapters had me laughing out loud and nodding my head in agreement in quite a few spots.  Rachel's quirky methods of evangelism and her apologetic strategies as a young girl astound me.  Seriously, her argument for the existence of Santa Claus had me rolling!!  Anyway...

Marla asked a couple of questions on her blog about what it means to really be saved.  She also asked a question about faith & politics, but I'm not going to answer that here.  We'll save those thoughts for another day.  :)  

I love this quote by David Platt, author of Radical“This is why none of these man-made catch phrases are in the Bible. You will not find a verse in Scripture where people are told to ‘bow your heads, close your eyes, and repeat after me.’ You will not find a place where a superstitious sinner’s prayer is even mentioned. And you will not find an emphasis on accepting Jesus. We have taken the infinitely glorious Son of God, who endured the infinitely terrible wrath of God and who now reigns as the infinitely worthy Lord of all, and we have reduced him to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for us to accept him.”

Salvation is simple.  Belief (in Jesus) + Confession (of sin) = Salvation  

When Jesus went about gathering His disciples, He didn't tell them how to be saved.  He said, "Come and follow Me."  There was no Romans Road, or sinners prayer, or asking Jesus to live in your heart.

The disciples left everything behind.  The disciples followed Jesus

Salvation is simple.  Or is it?

Salvation is about leaving everything behind.  When Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 what it meant to be saved, He said that one had to be born again.  That means starting over, beginning all over again, creating something new.  Regeneration.

Salvation is also about following Jesus.  Again, Jesus invited His disciples (and us) to follow Him.  "Follow" means to monitor or observe, to accept as guide or leader, and to imitate or copy.  A true Jesus follower sees what Jesus is doing & does the same thing.

There's a woman that Rachel talks about in chapter 2 of Evolving she calls "June the Ten Commandments Lady."  June is an outspoken elderly woman "who professes the name of Jesus Christ in one breath and then curses her neighbor in the next."  (48)  Rachel wonders if that profession of Jesus is enough to save her.  Further, she wonders if June's profession is worth more than the faith of a Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim who practice kindness and compassion.

Those are tough questions.  They're emotional ones.   This is what I think based on the definition of salvation given above - salvation is about leaving everything behind AND following Jesus.  You can't have one without the other.  June's profession of faith isn't enough.  A Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim who practices kindness and compassion isn't enough.  True salvation requires both.  

What do you think it takes to be saved?  How would you answer Rachel's question regarding June the Ten Commandment lady & those of other faiths?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mondays Suck (So Lets Do Something About It)

Mondays typically get a bad rap & for good reason.  Monday mornings come way too early and seem to drag on forever.  Nothing ever seems to go right.  Mondays are just terrible days.  They're not just terrible; they're manic.  The Greek word for manic is manikos, meaning "inclined to madness."  Yep.  Fits Mondays perfectly.

And I'm not alone in my thinking.

Mondays are so bad it's the day most people are likely to commit suicide or have a heart attack.

Yeah, Mondays are THAT bad.  

So I'm taking Monday back.

That's right.  I will no longer be defined by this day.  Instead, I choose to rejoice in Monday.  

It's going to be hard considering for years, possibly even decades, Monday has been my least favorite day of the week.  But I'm determined to put a positive spin on the worst day of the week.  


I'm challenging myself to find at least one positive thing in my day & blog about it.  If you hate Mondays as much as me, join me!  Just maybe we can make the worst day of the week the best of the week.  Anything possible, right?

Do you absolutely, positively HATE Mondays?  If so, will you join me in the Manic Monday challenge?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Finding Hope In Unlikely Places

A few weeks ago a friend of mine let me borrow Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.  She knows that I love to read.  She also knows that I have a love for India having done missionary work there many years ago.

I just finished the book a couple of hours ago, so I'm still processing all that I read.  Secret Daughter is fiction, but there is so much truth packed into this story as it relates to family, faith, love, and hope.

As Somer and later Asha, traveled to India for the first time, I remembered my own first trip to India.  The sea of brown faces.  The vendors calling out chai in the train stations.  The smell of pollution, sweat, and spices that hits you as soon as you walk out the door.  The brightly dressed women in their saris and punjabis.  The children with babies on their hips begging for change.  It was all overwhelming.  Frightening yet beautiful.

In a way, I could relate to Somer's story.  Particularly, her desire to have a child and be a mother.  My greatest desire is to have a daughter, a little girl to sing to sleep, teach to read and write, and be there to guide her steps as she grows.  To be the same kind of mother and friend that my mom is to me.

In other ways, I could relate to Asha's journey.  She goes to India for many reasons, but the answers she finds aren't quite what she expects.  What she finds is hope in the most unlikely of places - in the faces of the women and children of the slums.  Whether born into extreme poverty or forced into it, these women and children have hope for a brighter tomorrow.  In the midst of the darkest of places, there was a ray of light.

There's nothing like traveling to one of the poorest nations on Earth to gain perspective.  On days when I grumble and complain about my single-wide trailer, I only have to remember the makeshift homes made of cardboard boxes, mud, and tarps in the slums of India.  When my 14 year old car gives me fits, I only have to remember the hard, calloused feet of the women of India who walk for miles without complaint.

On my darkest days when I think there is nothing left to live for, I only have to remember that there is everything to live for because there is still HOPE.

HOPE in the Creator who created me in the secret place and knew me before I was even born (Psalm 139)

HOPE in a loving Father who takes delight in me and rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

HOPE in my Savior, Jesus, who took my sin and shame upon Himself on the cross (John 19)

What unlikely places have you stumbled upon hope?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Is Questioning Your Faith OK?

This summer I am participating in Marla Taviano's Summer Read-A-Long.  Each participant is reading Rachel Held Evans' book Evolving in Monkey Town.  I picked up a copy of Rachel's book a year ago at a discount store and had every intention of reading it, but never did.  Good thing, I guess.  ;)

Anyway, this week the assignment was to read the preface and introduction to the book.  Then we were to go to Marla's blog and answer some questions.  If you want to know the questions and my answers, go find them in the comments.

I say that because what I really want to focus on in this post is the premise of Rachel's book - questioning.  Some would say that anyone of faith who questions their faith is way out of line.  That faith is some sort of blind acceptance.  You know, faith is believing without seeing.  So questioning one's faith means you don't have any faith at all.  But is that really true?

My faith journey started as a young girl.  I was only 10 when I started going to church regularly and when I heard about Jesus.  It was at that same age that I accepted Him into my heart and began the nearly 25 year journey.  As a young girl and young teen, I didn't question my faith.  I accepted what the children's church teachers said and what my youth pastor and pastor taught.

The older I got, the more I loved to learn.  I also loved to debate.  It was natural for me to want to learn how to debate all sides of the argument.  So I learned, researched, and questioned.  I went through missionary training school in my 20s (having felt called as a 13 year old to be a missionary) and was exposed to many different ways of thinking in my faith.  Then I went to college, and eventually earned my Masters degree.  All along the way, I've questioned my faith.  I've questioned others faith.  I've wrestled with the existence of God, the problem of evil, and on and on and on.  I still have questions.  I still wrestle.

Like Rachel says in Evolving, "I had to take a closer look at what I believed and find out what was truly essential."  In turn, my questioning hasn't led to doubt or disbelief.  Instead, it's brought me closer to Jesus.  And for that, I'm thankful.

Do you think it's okay to question your faith?  Have you ever questioned your faith?  If so, has it led to doubt & disbelief, or has it caused you to grow deeper in faith?