Monday, December 26, 2011

Is it worth it?

Occasionally the thought crosses my mind that being a missionary is uncomfortable. Having a real job with a consistent income and more measurable results appeals to me right now as I wonder if what I am doing is making ANY difference whatsoever in student's lives and as I struggle through trusting God to provide for my financial needs.

But Christ changes everything. Including my perspective.

In the Christmas message I see another missionary who struggled with His calling (Luke 22:44). Leaving the most comfortable home ever (Revelation 21:11), he came to reside in unholy and inadequate living conditions, with hay as a mattress (Luke 2:12) and an unsanitary barn where there were probably bed-bugs or at least mice, I imagine.

He also left the greatest community and perfect family (Matthew 27:45-46). Within the trinity, Jesus had every relational need perfectly met (Matthew 3:16-17). As a missionary, he was rejected by his imperfect family (Mark 3:21) and separated from those he loved (Mark 14:53). He was outcasted from his hometown and rejected by his closest community (Mark 15:13).

Jesus left his perfect home, perfect peace, perfect family, perfect community... for me. His only joy was that set before him... the cross. The railroad track between God's throne and my slums. Jesus became a missionary so that He could take me back home with Him. I'm a missionary so I can bring some of my friends with me. According to God, I'm worth the sacrifice. And so are you.

I will not offer to God that which costs me nothing. (2 Samuel 24:24)

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Puzzling Sort of Christmas

It's a Christmas tradition to get the puzzles out this time of year. We sit around the coffee table, eat popcorn, and become mesmerized by the challenge of putting together 1000 pieces of scattered chaos. In my family, the task is completed silently, all of us concentrating hard on our corner of the rectangular puzzle.

Also puzzling me now is the subtle uneasiness in my heart as Christmas approaches this year. A "funk" has fallen over me that I can't seem to shake. My family and friends keep asking, "What are you going to do after you finish your internship next year?" And to that, I cannot answer. Honestly, I have so many options and I feel so little direction right now!

But I am reminded that there is a Christmas promise I can rest on. In Matthew 1:23, Jesus is named "Emmanuel," meaning "God, with us."

Despite my uneasiness about my future, I can rest on the fact that God is most certainly with me in this season of Christmas, and this season of life. I am just a piece in a puzzle that God is putting together (Jeremiah 18:1-10). And though it may look chaotic now, there is a viewpoint from the one above who has the finished product in mind (Jeremiah 29:11, Revelation 4:11).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love God well. Love People well.
Back in October, UNCC had an outreach called “Reverse-trick-or treat” where we passed out candy and used surveys to invite students into spiritual conversations. On that night, I talked to a young woman named Abby who was NOT interested in anything having to do with God. Of course, I didn’t want to push so I simply said, “Hey, here’s my number. If you are ever interested in exploring spiritual things, give me a call and I’d love to get to know you better.”
About a week ago, I got a text from Abby! She was doing a project in one of her classes and wanted to know if she could interview me to get a Christian’s perspective on some hot-topics in society. During our meeting, I was able to gently share the gospel with her and I learned that she actually has a lot of personal questions about God, but she has never met a Christian who didn’t judge her based on her beliefs. At the end of our time together I asked Abby if she would want to get together regularly for coffee and try to explore some of these questions that she has about God. We are going to start meeting regularly in January! Please pray for God to give me wisdom and compassion as I begin this journey with Abby. And pray that she would come to believe the life-changing message of Jesus Christ!

Would You Please Consider?

I am thrilled that the Lord has called me to lead a team of college students on a mission trip to Dakar, Senegal this summer May 20-June 30! Of course, with that calling, comes a financial need of $5,000. This is in addition to my current monthly need, which has increased because some of my previous financial supporters are no longer able to give financially.

In this season of giving, would you consider joining my financial support team monthly as I continue to invest in college students lives? Would you consider offering a one-time donation to support my trip to Senegal?

You can give online:

Account number: 0632459

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why Are We Faking It?

Sometimes we talk about it like its easy. We plaster a smile on our face and go into church like everything is nice and neat with a pretty little bow tied on top. Besides, it's that season. We fake it because we're "supposed to be smiling" at Christmastime.

Let's be honest, today was one of those days for me. I didn't want to go to church this morning. Wow, yes, me... the "super Christian" wanted to stay in bed and sleep. I've been going so fast lately, and I selfishly felt like I haven't had anytime for myself.

When I got to church, Pastor Larry talked about true authenticity... it's not until now that I am processing fully what he meant: Jesus doesn't teach a "fake it till you make it" sermon. He doesn't say tie yourself up like a nice little present and then come to me. Jesus says, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)." Then, to make his point clear, he hung out with the ones who didn't have it all together! In a sense, Jesus says, "I'll meet YOU where you're at... and bring you to a better place." Bring your selfishness, your bad attitude, tiredness, burdens, and frustrations to the cross and let me change your heart.

So what am I doing pretending like I have it all together when I don't? No one wants to go to church with a hypocrite... so I need to stop acting like one. I'm laying down the super Christian title for one that's more accurate and honest: "Blood-bought and grace-taught."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"Spend Yourself"

Looking at my bank account earlier today, I realized that I don't have a whole lot of money to spend during the month of December this year. As much as I would love to buy everyone some awesome Christmas presents, I'm a little low on cash flow right now.

But then I came across Isaiah 58:10 where God asks His people to spend themselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed. I realized that tradition of giving at Christmastime isn't all about depleting my bank account on behalf of the people I love (or the people I feel obligated to buy something for). The gifts God wants me to give are more sacrificial than that.

God asks me to SPEND MYSELF. Who is hungry in my life right now? I know of some college students that I am investing in are hungry for the word of God. I know my church offers opportunities to feed the hungry. I know there are people all around me who are hungry for a taste of God's love through my hands. And so, I've decided to spend myself during the month of December, whether in service or words... I am going to tangibly stop frivolously spending so much money and start spending myself. I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

"Do We Think That is Tacky?"

My neighbors put up enough Christmas lights to light up the entire Galloway Forest. Complete with the countdown to Christmas (20 days, 1 hour, 35 minutes and 15 seconds... I kid you not, it is that specific)! As Luke picked me up last night, he said to me, "Do we think that is tacky?" I laughed because some people are nuts with their enthusiasm about holidays. I am all for lights, don't get me wrong. But when you have so many lights that Rudolf's nose is sniffing baby Jesus... you need more to do with your life.

I wonder sometimes if spend so much of our time wrapped up in Christmas lights and decorating that we forget to spend time being the light! Jesus said, "Let your light shine before all men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16)."

Hmm... good deeds. It's odd to me that in Christian circles "good deeds" have developed a bad reputation. It's true that for some, they've become a stumbling block to understanding the true gospel: that it is NOT by works (good deeds) that you have been saved, but the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9)!

But after that... after we are saved by grace through faith... there is a calling! A calling to holiness and a calling to be like Christ! And every calling demands a response. The calling? "Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven!" What is your response?

Warning: Too much light may make some think you are tacky and may cause rejection from judgmental neighbors (John 15:18-20). But Jesus is worth the cost.

Monday, December 05, 2011

All the Tinsel and Lights Make the Holidays Bright... but the Real Gift is You!

Friday night I had the wonderful opportunity to host and attend the "Snowball!" A Christmas dance party for all of the Cru students around the Charlotte area, complete with yummy Christmas cookies and a photo booth (How cute is that picture of Luke and I??)! We had a blast with the 65+ students welcoming in the season of Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus with dancing and quality fellowship!

Not only do I love Christmas parties, I also enjoy the smell of evergreens, the beauty of Christmas lights, and the taste of gingerbread lattes! A Christmas in Charlotte, North Carolina is full of all of these! Unfortunately, it can also full of distraction and busyness.

Yesterday, Pastor Stephen from my church, Elevation, challenged us to make a declaration and commitment for this advent season:

"I won't get lost in lesser things... I will make the most of Jesus."

Martha was so distracted by "lesser things"... the preparations and the hard work... that she missed out on the whole reason for the party in the first place (Luke 10:10)! She had invited the guests, but was too busy preparing the meal to enjoy time with them.

I don't want to miss out on spending time at the feet of the One who is the reason for this season! Whether that looks like worshiping God by a lighted evergreen tree, drinking a gingerbread latte while reading the Christmas story, or spending time dancing with college students... I choose to not only invite Jesus into my home and heart, but also enjoy his presence this Christmas!