Thursday, October 22, 2015

Be Imitators

A few weeks ago I gathered with a few dear friends for a worship night. We all had had a long week from the busyness of our lives and came wounded. Some of the wounds were physical, some were emotional, some were spiritual, but none the less, they were wounds and because of them we were ready to just sit and be with Jesus and each other. It was a beautiful fall night in Michigan. The air was crisp, clean and still. You could smell the freshness and newness of the changing of seasons and we all desired some newness in our lives. We gathered our chairs, paper, crayons and musical instruments and sat together. That night we didn't long for a well polished or not so well polished program, we just wanted Jesus. Before going to my friend's house, I sat in my favorite chair at home and prayed out to God. I felt like I had nothing to offer my friends. I was tired. I was weak and I just wanted Jesus. There was no event or innocent that made me that way, it was just a numbness and weakness of my flesh that longed to be with the One who gives me worth and sees me as whole rather than the shatter mess I feel like most days. That night my friends and I let go of whatever was holding us and we just were together with Jesus. The kids colored and played a drum. The adults talked about our days and hurts and every once in a awhile we would find a song to sing and I would play it on the guitar. It wasn't a well practiced choir or worship band, but it was a beautiful chorus and song of surrender to our Abba. The night was filled with conversations of real, raw emotion and confirmed in me that as children of the King we just need to stop and be together more often. None of us had an epiphany when listening to each others hearts, but we all left lighter and more confident in who we were because of our time together. In the beautiful simplicity of the night, we embraced the gentle boldness that God gives us to face the things in our lives that make us feel like we are loosing our minds and ourselves. I personally left that night with a joy in my heart. I felt like I had been with Jesus. I had experienced the church and it was so good.

The next morning a friend that was there sent me a photo of her daughter. The message said "Worshipping before school and she wants to be sure she's playing guitar just like Ms. Christina." My heart felt so many emotions while I starred at that photo. There was joy in remembering the greatness of the night before and then fear because no one should want to mimic me. I am a sinner. I mess up every day and will until I reach heaven. The thoughts in my head are ones of selfish desires and questioning the way God's plan is unfolding. But then I turn to God's word and I see how he sees me...
    I am the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
    I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
    I am a child of God (John 1:12)
    I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him (Rom. 8:17)
    I am a temple -- a dwelling place-- of God. His Spirit and life dwell in me (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19)
    I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him (1 Cor 6:17)
    I am a member of Christ's body (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 5:30)
    I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)

You see, you may see yourself as tainted or so sinful that you have no idea how you can impact the world, but that is not what God sees. He sees His child who He loves so dearly. He sees one who He has given everything for. He sees His inheritance when He sees us. As my friend's daughter wanted to play the guitar just like me, I want to live just like Christ. I want to serve those around me, just like He did. Even when I feel like I am so broken and weak that I have nothing more to give, I want to give, so that His name will be praised. If we all let go of how we think the church should look like and cling to the gospel of truth that says we are the church and we need to simply be together and worship together, I think this world would be a much sweeter and joy filled place. For as the apostle Paul said...

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2, ESV)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

His eyes

For months now I have been praying specifically for my eyes. I have been praying that my eyes see people as Jesus does not as I do. Here is the thing people, I am a sinner. I confess to all of you I have a judgmental spirit. It is a hard thing to surrender because it is very easy for me to see people on the surface and ultimately feel like I know them. I am sure because of this I have ruined relationships both personally and professionally. But each and every day I try to place this sin at the cross and live boldly for God doing His will. 

In my last blog I explained my heart's desire to love people like God does. You can imagine how hard this is when you struggle with judgement. Through a lot of time in prayer and with the Word, I feel that with each day the judgement spirit I have is becoming less and less and life is becoming more and more full. Before traveling back to the Unites States this year, I began praying harder to see people with God's eyes. I wanted to not only look past my personal perspective of western culture but also the walls that people hide behind. 

Walls...WE ALL HAVE THEM!!! Be it either humor, a talent or hobby, our cell phones or the way we dress, we all have things we do to hide our insecurities. There is one who can look past the walls we think work and into our heart. Only God can see past our false hopes and into the heart of the issue. One thing that I desire to do is to see people past their wall. I don't care what you are hiding. Whatever it is, I want to love you the way God does and that is life beyond the wall. 

This week I went to ArtPrize with some friends. ArtPrize is a great event that displays hundreds of pieces of art all over downtown Grand Rapids. It was a beautiful day to just walk around and enjoy not only the gift of creativity that God gives people but also just enjoy His creation. As we walked though, my heart got heavier and heavier. With each step, I kept seeing people hiding. The streets were full of people from every demographic. There were business men and women who put on their best power suits and were conquering whatever came in their path. There were many groups of students who were there on school field trips. There were many moms trying to keep count of the students who had no desire to stay close to each other but would rather roll down a hill than look at art. There were people who didn't know the city streets at all and they were people who knew the streets well, because the streets were their home. Every person I saw, I kept thinking "this person is made in God's image." 

The one in the power suit with their face glued to the phone...God's image. 

The child wearing a safety yellow shirt rolling down the hill...God's image.

The mom with her Starbucks cup and clipboard...God's image. 

The man, sitting on streets wearing the clothes he has worn for days and not looking anyone in the eye as they passed him by...God's image. 

As my friend's and I drove home I just couldn't get past what I saw. I didn't see judgement, but God's image. As beautiful as it was, it was also heartbreaking, because I wonder if any of those I saw, saw themselves that way. 

Did the one in the power suit know that their success in life in not measured by their career but by their Abba? 

Did the child rolling down the hill know that God made that hill for them to have fun on? 

Did the mom realize that no matter how many eye rolls she got that day, she was still great in God's eyes? 

Did the man on the street know that their is a mansion waiting for him, if he believes that he a child of God? 

ArtPrize was overwhelming, but I have to say that everyday this week has been like this. Wherever I go, my heart is becoming broken to those around me. I desperately desire for people to see themselves beyond the walls we put up. There is freedom beyond the walls. 

Please hear my heart, I am a sinner. I struggle with earthly issues. I do not have anything figured out and praise God daily for His grace. I just desire to live more simply and see others through the eyes of God. I want to live in the love of my Abba rather than the judgement of my flesh. And I want others to do the same, because when you do life is richer. Yes there are moments when your heart is so heavy it is hard to breath, but then there are moments when you gather with people and you laugh so hard you cry. There are moments when because who you are with time stops. There are moments when because you are loving those around you, you see past whatever journey they are on or struggle they have and you see them as God does, His precious child who He would do anything for so that they can know His joy and love.