Reading and Hope

There’s a little girl who comes to Thursday Night Lights who has captured my heart. 

We’ve talked about Joan before (I’ve changed her name) but seeing her this week gave me an idea…

She’s out of school for the summer, so I know Joan spends most of her time alone. 

Several weeks ago, I was given some books by a friend who moved back to Shreveport, Louisiana. Many of them were young adult fiction books. 

I asked Joan if she likes to read and she does! Next Thursday I’m bringing her a few books. 

Joan’s 11, which is around the time my own love of reading took off. I bet Joan will have the same experience. 

No matter how bleak the circumstances, the settings of a good book draw you in.

 I’m not recommending reading as a method of escapism, but more as a method of seeing that there’s a world beyond your circumstances. 

Imagination is a powerful force. 

My hope for Joan is that she doesn’t look at her circumstances and think, “This is it.”

Obviously, a relationship with Jesus is what Joan really needs. And I plan on talking with her more about that. 

I just remember how much reading impacted my life as a child. 

If you live in the Tulsa area and have some books you’d like to see go to a good cause, I have some friends who would greatly appreciate your generosity. 

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Closer to the Light

How many times have we talked about how Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted? 

Probably enough times that you’re sick of hearing about it….

But it’s true. One of Jesus’ primary purposes in coming to earth was to mend broken hearts. 

I bet you and I could each fill a notebook with the names of friends and families who fall into the brokenhearted category.

In my dream the other night a young homeless girl just needed to be comforted. The weight of the world was crushing her and she found herself all alone. 

Do you know where she was?

At the school library! (See, libraries and librarians are awesome!) 

The librarian knew something was off with the girl and reached out to her. When she did, the girl started to sob. The messy, uncontrollable kind of sobbing that comes from knowing you’re finally safe, someone will help you.

And that’s all the librarian said as she wiped away the girl’s tears: “It’s going to be okay. You’re safe now.”

How many times a day do I pass up an opportunity to comfort someone?

If Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, that means it’s my job to help the brokenhearted. 

This is where following Jesus gets real…

It’s also why the Lord gave me this dream. He only shows me stuff that paints a clear picture of where I’m headed in life. 

Friend, my heart is changing.

I think I finally understand why Jesus said lights aren’t meant to be hidden. 

Following Jesus will always take you straight into the darkest places, places where most people are afraid to go.

You will find the brokenhearted, the poor, the sick, and the oppressed in these dark places. 

Picture a light in the distance getting closer and closer to where you are. Bringing hope and light to the darkness is why Jesus came in the first place.

 

 

 

 

Living out the story

Aren’t cliff hangers the worse? 

To be Continued…

No one wants to see this at the end of a TV episode. And don’t even get me started on movies with 50,000 parts. Or book series where the next book isn’t coming out for another 18 months. 

Just tell me what happened!

Thankfully, the Bible tells us the whole story of Jesus. 

This is also why I’m trying to take it easy on the apostles as I read through the gospel. They didn’t have the full story like I do.

Come on, Peter! 

Thomas, what’s your problem?!?

James and John, did you seriously just ask Jesus to give you the best seats in the house? 

Here’s how I look at it: When I start doing everything Jesus asks me to do–without running my mouth first–I can pick on the apostles. 

By tracing the the faithfulness of God throughout His story, I am learning how to trust Him when I don’t have the full story (which is a lot).

Marvin Yoder, my teacher for Bible Interpretation, taught us about the Principle of Application today. I loved Mr. Yoder’s thoughts on seeing ourselves doing the works of Jesus and the early church. 

As Christians, the Bible is the final authority in our lives. However, if I never apply it to my daily life, it’s still just a story.

If Jesus healed, so can I.

If Peter could stand before a crowd and know exactly what to say by the Holy Spirit, so can I.

If Paul and Silas can sing praises in jail after being beaten for their faith, so can I.

 I’ve reached the point in my faith where I’m convinced that not taking the Bible to heart, that not living out the scriptures as practical, do-able truths is the number one reason the world sees the gospel as powerless. 

 

 

 

 

Thursday Night Lights

I made a new friend today. 

Well, I made several new friends today because I had the opportunity to serve during Thursday Night Lights. 

Every Thursday a group of believers come together to serve and eat dinner with the homeless. 

A local missionary to the homeless brings a truck and trailer loaded with picnic tables and other supplies. 

Different groups volunteer each week to prepare dinner. It truly is a collaborative work within the body of Christ. 

My favorite part was hanging out with the men and women. One of my new friends is a little girl–let’s call her Joan–who is the same age as my sister Sofia. 

She was super shy at first but by the end of the night I got her to smile at me. 

Her smile was beautiful and it absolutely broke my heart…

What’s her daily life like? 

What are her dreams?

These are the questions that were burning in my heart. And if you know me at all, I will ask her these questions in due time. 

I’m reading through Matthew’s gospel and already there have been 3 times that Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the multitudes. 

My heart was filled with compassion today. I never want to look at a man or woman and not see them as Christ sees them:

Loved. 

Accepted. 

Worth every sacrifice. 

I know that there’s a stigma about the homeless, but my goal is to take all my preconceived notions and throw them in the trash. 

It’s not my job to sit around and rank the people according to their various levels of poverty. 

Who is that helping?

My only job is to love people, to be their friend, and keep pointing them back to Jesus. 

Joan’s smile is still in my head…

All I see is the bright future that Christ has in mind for her. I look forward to getting to know my new friend and helping her see it, too. 

The Color of Grace

The Color of Grace by Bethany Haley Williams is a great book. 

Be warned: It’s intense and some of the stories are tough. 

Bethany is the founder of Exile International. 

She works with former child soldiers to overcome their grief and trauma using art therapy. 

These kids, despite their pasts, are full of hope, a hope that what’s in front of them is better than anything in their pasts. 

These kids love God and thank Him everyday–even though many are orphans living in an impoverished area. 

I walked away from the book totally wrecked…

The redemptive power of Jesus Christ is much more powerful than what we see and hear about in the West. 

There is no difference between the Jesus of the developing world and the Jesus of the West. 

Only a difference in the mindsets of the people. 

 I encourage you to check out The Color of Grace. 

Just be prepared for your perspective to shift. 

Escaping ISIS

I watched a documentary today that cemented my feelings and beliefs about Christianity’s role in helping refugees. 

PBS Frontline did a special last July on women prisoners of ISIS. 

Escaping ISIS documented the fate of the women and children of a particular sect of Islam, the Yazidi, who ISIS views worthy of being decimated because the Yazidi make the Islamic faith impure. 

When ISIS went into their villages, they killed the men and captured the women and children. 

There is a small group of Yazidi men who are working diligently to free their relatives from ISIS, creating an underground network of spies within and without ISIS territories. 

The saddest part of the documentary was watching the story of the woman caught in adultery (see John 8:2-11) with a horrible ending. 

ISIS leaders filmed a woman accused of adultery and sentenced to be stoned to death. The woman’s father was present and she asked him, “Father, can you please forgive me?” 

His response broke my heart: “God will not allow me to forgive you.”

The woman continued to ask for forgiveness, sobbing, as the leaders began to stone her. Her father joined in as well. 

For anyone who believes that God and Allah are one and the same, you’re dead wrong. 

The One True God is a loving and forgiving Father. His heart beats with love for us. 

This woman was killed and there was no forgiveness given to her like Jesus extended in John 8.

I understand that there’s no way the countries of the world can take in all the refugees. 

I understand it is dangerous to allow the refugees into our countries because ISIS infiltrates the refugee camps. 

But we as Christians can NEVER hate Muslim people. We can NEVER give up being involved in creative solutions to reach out to the refugees. 

I saw the tears of the women who recounted their brutal treatment under the ISIS regime. They lived in fear every day of their captivity. 

In fact, many women kill themselves because they feel utterly hopeless to escape the torture of the ISIS regime. 

There was an 18 year old girl who said, “I don’t know if I will ever be free from my fear, the nightmares that haunt me.”

I screamed at the TV, “Yes, you can be free! Jesus can heal your broken heart!”

This documentary has wrecked me…

The Muslim world is crying out for help, for hope. Don’t let ISIS win by poisoning your heart toward these people. 

Change of Address

Letting other people make their own choices is tough. 

Are you sure that’s what you want to do?

I have some great ideas for you! My plan is much more solid than yours.

It’s hard for me to sit back and watch someone self-destruct, especially when I know they could do better. 

They know the truth, but are unwilling to endure the pain of change.  

There have been plenty of times that I knew what I was doing was not the best plan. Thankfully, my friends and family didn’t walk away and throw up their hands saying, “I told you this was a bad idea!”

That came later. 

At first, they helped me up and dusted me off. 

The sting of the consequences wasn’t gone, yet I knew that I would be okay. 

Obviously not everyone gets that kind of support. They fall hard and no one is there. 

No matter the support level, no one is meant to change their address to 1234 Rock Bottom Street. 

I am a firm believer in hope. 

If you are still breathing, there is hope for you because Jesus loves you so much that He will help you move out of Rock Bottom. 

The hope of a change of address is available to us all. 

Jesus wants us to move into His house because His Dad is the best and there’s always room. 

What if we walk with our friends and family–all the way to Rock Bottom if necessary–and tell them about a better future, a better direction to head in?

A course change midway is easier than an upward climb. 

But remember that the choice is not up to you, so wear comfortable shoes just in case (you’ll want to be prepared no matter how short or long the walk).