Because we’re family

The Kingdom of God is an upside down Kingdom from beginning to end.

And I struggle as a young person to wrap my head around these upside down commands because nothing about our world is about putting others first.

The worlds says, “Me first!” and the Kingdom says, “Me last!” 

Check out Romans 12:10 in these 3 translations:

NLT: Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

ERV: Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself.

MSG: Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

We are to love everyone like they are our brothers and sisters. This makes sense when you think about it because there are only two types of people in the world: Those who are already our family in Christ and those we want to see become our family in Christ.

My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 5:16. 

 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

Evangelism is not about us versus them. Outreach is not about being a bully and forcing Jesus down someone’s throat.

I can’t get away from these thoughts…

I am not sharing the gospel to get ahead.

I am not seeking a platform to build “my ministry.”

 Evangelism has absolutely NOTHING to do with my advancement and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with showing someone else the path to redemption. 

The path of humility is all about taking jealousy and the need to get ahead off the table.

We’re on this journey together.

We’re growing together.

We’re serving together.

You’re not more important than me and I’m not more important than you because we’re family. 

 

 

 

Selfishness Anonymous 

We’re all selfish. 

It’s true. 

The number one priority can easily be yours truly, especially for us single folks. 

At least, this is something I have to keep in mind…

There is coming a day when spontaneity will come less and less. 

And I’m okay with that. 

The temptation to put others last is not new. This has been a problem from the beginning of time–only Jesus is perfect. 

He gave us many great examples of selflessness. 

We all want to be like him, but it’s hard…the upside down kingdom is a bit much to wrap your head around. 

  • The first will be last. 
  • He who wants to be first must be a servant. 
  • It takes the faith of a child to get into heaven. 

None of these truths can be lived out with a selfish attitude. (And none of this is possible without the Holy Spirit.)

Maybe we all need to go into Selfishness Anonymous. 

It couldn’t hurt, right?

Powerful Prayer

Can you please pray for me?

My answer is always, “Of course! What do you need prayer for?” And then I pray for that person right there. 

I don’t wait until later (though I do pray on my own later) because there’s something powerful about praying together. 

Read through the Book of Acts. 

You’ll quickly notice that mighty things happened when the Church prayed together. 

Jesus told us that He’ll do anything we ask in His name. 

Jesus told us that praying in faith can move any mountain, any obstacle. 

Jesus taught us how to pray and Paul laced his letters with prayers. 

Talking with God is vital to our Christian walk. (We’ve talked many times about prayer.)

The Boiler Room taught on prayer tonight. 

Following the teaching we prayed for our church community, for the necessary transitions to better serve the poor. 

I walked away reminded that “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” is not possible without prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life. 

Identity and DNA

Do you know who you are? 

It’s easy to let yourself be identified by your job, motherhood, sickness, personality type, hobby–I could keep going. 

As Christians, however, our identity is Christ Himself. We are saved by His grace, guided by His Word, and commissioned to tell the world all about it. 

This is who we are. 

Like we talked about a few weeks ago, Jesus is not asking us to drop our brains and our personalities at the door. 

Christians are not bland, boring people. 

Christians are a diverse, beautiful family united and compelled by our devotion to Jesus Christ. 

The Boiler Room discussed 4 fundamental questions this evening that really walk you through what the Christian life is all about. 

  1. Who is God?
  2. What did He do for us?
  3. Who are we? 
  4. What do we do?

These questions–and their answers–are the essence of the gospel message. 

Our identity as individual believers, as the body of Christ, is rooted in the finished work of Jesus. 

It is then lived out in actions that are clearly seen by others. 

Jesus told the disciples in John 17 that the world would know us by our love. 

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:14 that the love of Christ compels us to share the gospel. 

If Christ is our identity and greatest motivator, then love–His self-sacrificing love–is our DNA. 

And with that kind of DNA it puts the actions of our everyday lives in perspective. 

Confessions of an Overthinker

I’m a serious over-thinker….

It can be a problem sometimes because I’ll take a situation, slice it into a thousand different pieces, and then analyze each slice until I know how I think/feel about the subject.

This is not conducive to moments when a decision just has to be made. 

We should all be able to give an answer for what we believe–that’s biblical btw–but over-analysis paralysis keeps us from being useful to anyone.

You know the old saying “He/She is too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”? 

This is what happens when someone falls victim to over-analysis paralysis.

 

This is why I love to read and study all of the older creeds and catechisms. It lays out what’s important to know and even gives you verses to review. 

Seems simple enough, right?

I know there are folks who don’t like all of that “older” “more traditional” church documents, but I’m not really sure why not.

A quick Google search will tell you the history of the creeds–Apostles, Nicene, Heidelberg, Athanasian–and each one was written to combat heresy and false doctrines from infiltrating the church.

The Westminster Catechism (both the original and shorter version) were written as a way to teach children and new converts the basic beliefs of Christianity. 

Good Bible doctrine and basic hermeneutics are necessary (no matter what all the hip, “relevant” people tell you).

Studying these ancient truths isn’t about learning a lot of $5 words and becoming a Bible scholar who can’t even carry on a normal conversation.

It’s about having a good, solid foundation of what and why you believe what you do.

And it keeps you from going absolutely batty from overthinking things. (Or maybe it’s just me that struggles in this area…)

 

The Journey of Transformation

 

Check out these pictures: 

netherlands and belgium

PARAISÓPOLIS

The picture on the left shows the border between the Netherlands and Belgium. The picture on the right shows the divide between a rich neighborhood and a poor neighborhood in Brazil. 

Not much of a difference is there?

It got me to thinking about how fast the transformation happens in our Christian lives. The moment someone decides to follow Jesus, the change is instant:  

  • Orphan to son or daughter
  • Darkness to light
  • Unrighteous to Righteous
  • Hell to Heaven

The change is instant, but walking it out takes time. This is the reason so many of us stay stuck in a rut. 

How do I go from living in the  Netherlands to living in Belgium?

How do I go from living in the slums to living in the richest side of town?

Talk about information overload! 

The answer to me is quite clear: One step at a time.

Most of us didn’t hear about Jesus one minute and decide to follow Him the next. We made a decision after a lot of talking to our Christian friends and reading the Bible to see if there was any truth to our friends claims. 

Here’s a pet peeve of mine:

Don’t walk your friends and family through the whole process of coming to know Jesus and then ditch them on the side of the road saying, “Well, have fun figuring out this new life!” 

When I think of discipleship now, I think of going for the longest hike of my life. Sure, I can go by myself, but having a buddy will make it so much easier to navigate and so much more enjoyable as well.

The reason community is essential to the Christian life is because renewing our minds to catch up with the radical change that took place in our spirits cannot be done alone. 

 

 

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.