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. 

 

 

 

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Farewell to 25

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new adventure–Year 26.

I’ve already shared my goals with you, so now I just want to recap what happened last year:

  • I was working as an office manager
  • Serving the deaf at 2 churches and a school
  • Making the decision to leave Alabama again to head out to Rhema
  • Falling in love with missions
  • Writing for this blog everyday
  • My heart was steadily being changed by this radical notion that following Jesus was never meant to be a Sunday only affair 

I am so blessed and humbled by everything that happened which brought me to right here, sitting on my couch, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. 

25, you’ve been good to me. Now it’s time to start out on my next adventure. 

Why I can’t care

” I can’t care about that…” 

A friend of mine was telling me how someone else perceives me. I appreciated the input because I’m not a sociopath (meaning I’m incapable of feeling one way or the other).

If there’s some kind of weirdo behavior that I’m exhibiting and someone else notices then I want to know. 

The reason I said, “I can’t care about that” is quite simple:

I’m a recovering people pleaser. 

In the situation being discussed, there was absolutely nothing I could do about this person’s perception.

So, I just can’t care. 

The alternative is that I become an obsessive, anxious maniac who can’t function when said person is around.

No thank you. Not interested. Been there, bought the t-shirt. 

We can’t control how others think of us. Even if we could control it, that’s not a healthy way to live.

I don’t want to be a robot, so everyone else has to be a robot? Where’s the health in that situation?

Perception is a double-edged sword.

You’re in denial if you think it’s possible to not have a perception about someone, yet you have to be on guard against faulty perception.

I have learned that a faulty perception is the first step toward a bad judgment.

I’m actually proud of myself today because I spotted a situation that is beyond my control, decided to let it go, and articulated why I was letting it go to someone else (i.e. my friend and now my readers). 

This is a step in the right direction.

 

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. 

Healthy Introspection

Introspection: the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.

I am an overly introspective person.

Is there a group called Over-Introspective Anonymous? 

If so, I need to go because the amount of time that I spend thinking things through is astronomical.

And annoying…..

There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you believe.

There’s nothing wrong with critical thinking.

It’s just that some of my “thinking” is actually tied to people pleasing. 

Ouch.

I am a recovering people pleaser and perfectionist. Old habits die hard. Just when I think that I’ve gotten it under control….

Well, you know how that sentence ends.

If your thoughts constantly revolve around “What will people think of me?” then that’s a sign that people pleasing is your motive. 

Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

Loosen up!

It’s okay.

You’re okay.

Keep moving towards your dreams.

Put away the measuring stick. There’s no need to compare yourself to others. You’re not them and they’re not you. 

I say all of these things as reminders to myself, but I know that we’ve all been there.

This is when the healthy use of introspection comes in handy. 

I only noticed my old habits creeping back in after reading through my last few posts and thinking back on several conversations from earlier in the week.

Now I know what areas need more attention. 

And it has nothing to do with what someone else thinks and everything to do with me growing, which is the natural byproduct of healthy introspection.

A standard of grace

The line between business and customer, ministry and church member, can get blurry pretty fast. 

You can NEVER forget that numbers, statistics–the bottom line–represents a person.

Whenever I get frustrated, this is what comes back to me. 

You’re talking about a person, Audra, take a chill pill! 

Whatever problem I face (real or perceived) can be traced back to a real life person. A person with their own personality, flaws, interests, hurts, hopes, and dreams. 

He or she also has a list of problems….

A little grace can go a long, long way. And here’s another thing to consider: 

Most of the problems I face can be traced right back to me. Did I mention that I am not good at giving grace to myself?

About that….

Don’t forget about extending a little grace towards yourself. We all make mistakes. It happens. 

Let me be clear: There’s nothing wrong with having a bottom line, a set standard to aim for.

Just be sure that the standard you set doesn’t become more important than the people you serve and live/work with. 

I’m finding that having grace as my standard is the best way to go. It keeps everything in perspective.

Shifting my perspective

I can’t imagine receiving manna from heaven and complaining.

Lord, we’ve been eating manna FOREVER! Can we have some lunch meat, please? And send down a jar of mayo while you’re at it…this bread is so dry! 

Okay, so I’m paraphrasing the children of Israel, but you see the point. 

My thoughts go to impoverished countries where they literally eat the same thing every day and are thankful. Variety is not important to them; having food at all, no matter if it is the same thing, is what’s important.

A little bit of perspective goes a long way in our consumerist society.

Last night I ate a dinner that was entirely provided–minus the butter and onions–by friends who blessed me with fresh eggs, cheese, bread, and herbs.

Wow. Talk about being spoiled…

Each bite was a sweet reminder that God’s given me some great friends and friends who are generous at that.

It also reminded me of our brothers and sisters around the world who don’t have access to food as readily as I do. Some of those brothers and sisters live in my backyard.

They are the chronically homeless.

They are the families who live paycheck to paycheck.

They are recovering drug addicts.

They are down on their luck war veterans.

They are the disabled who just need some help.

I am hanging out with my neighbors each Thursday and my perspective changes as I see what true struggle looks like.

My friend, you and I are blessed.

And it’s not about having all the coolest toys or the latest and greatest clothes. It’s not even about making the most money. 

My perspective on what it means to be blessed is changing.