NovelSisters

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#LifeMatters

Cemetery, Black, Death, Halloween, Mystery, Dark

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I’ve spent the last week on vacation, where I got to visit relatives and see a life size replica of Noah’s ark and visit a museum dedicated to validating the Bible as true and reliable. On my way home yesterday, I found out about the tragedy our nation has experienced with more deaths and murder and violence. It was heart breaking. I saw post after post on Facebook where people were trying to identify with those who were hurting by saying #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLifeMatters.

Honestly, I didn’t know how to react to all the pain and suffering and fear that people were experiencing. What do you say? What can make a difference? I didn’t want to sit back and do nothing, but honestly, what is someone supposed to do when people keep dying and nothing seems to stop it?

I ended up praying, a lot. By myself, with family, for friends that were scared and for everyone affected. As I did this, I was reminded of these verses:

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18

Our enemy isn’t each other, it is Satan. He has come to steal, kill and destroy and he is doing a good job of that right now. But we don’t fight him in our own strength. We speak truth to counter his lies, and we share the gospel of hope to counter his hopelessness, and we pray and place our security in Christ.

I don’t know where you find yourself in the middle of all this, but God has been teaching me this week that He is the Creator. He made every single living creature with a purpose. Each of our lives matter, no matter what our profession or skin color. We are all extremely valuable and loved by the One who made us. We are not here on accident and we are not made to hate and kill. We are made to be like Him: to love, serve, give, comfort, encourage, protect and be there for each other.

All this evil in the world is horrible, it is wrong and should be punished in the harshest way. Even if I’ve never shot anyone, I still have messed up, lived selfishly and rebelled against God’s design. I, like all of us, deserve to die, to pay the price for sin and rebellion.

But God’s Gospel is true and the good news does bring hope! Jesus died in my place, in your place. He paid the price for sin, for ALL sin. And He conquered it and rose from the dead.

I am alive in Him and with His powerful help, I can be a part of changing this world. There is no policy or program that will fix all the evil in this world. There is only the cross and He who died on it and rose from the dead. He is the only answer and my only hope.

So I cry out to Him today, for our country, for our people, for my friends and neighbors, my sisters and brothers. For He loves us more than I can imagine, so much so that He took our place on the cross and offers hope freely to any who come to Him.

That is my only answer to tragedy.

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Making Disciples

Life, Beauty, Scene, Friends, Sisters, Girlfriends

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This summer God has been teaching me a lot about making disciples. I’ve heard the term for most of my life, and knew it was important. But it always seemed hard to define, or do. How does one make disciples? Well every summer I’m part of my church’s Great Adventure. I’ve written about it before on my blog. And this year we really tried to emphasize making disciples.

You see discipleship is a lot harder than sharing a gospel message and pressuring someone to make a decision about it, or praying a prayer for salvation with someone and then giving them a slap on the back and moving on to the next person. Discipleship takes time. It’s building a relationship with a person, whether they have never heard of Jesus, are brand new believers, or have been going to church their whole lives. Discipleship is investing in someone’s life, showing them what’s important to you, letting them ask questions, talking about what they care about, and always pointing them back to God. There isn’t a strict manual about how to do it, but it always involves relationship.

So, I have a cool story I want to share about discipleship. I returned from college 3 years ago and after plugging back into my home church, I was asked to join the Middle School Ministry Team. I enthusiastically agreed. I was so encouraged by my own youth leaders when I was a teen, that I wanted to pass that on to the next generation. As I started, a new wave of brand new 6th graders started with me. I tried to connect with every grade, but it was cool to get 3 solid years of connecting with and encouraging, and teaching these same kids.

This summer I joined a team teaching Bible Clubs composed of mostly middle school students. One in particular had just finished 8th grade. Now I’ve been through the routine of Bible Clubs since 2003. I’ve shared Gospel Presentations, played games, connected with kids and even had the opportunity to pray with someone who believed the gospel for the first time. My favorite moment from this year’s Great Adventure starts when two young girls said, “Yes, I want to follow Jesus.”

One girl wanted to go off with the high school girl in our group, but the other didn’t know who to go pray with. There was a moment of awkward silence.

Then I smiled and pointed to the student who had been in Middle School with me for the past three years. “How about you go with him?”

The girl nodded and they went off to pray.

Later I got to hear the former middle schooler’s excited celebration. He claimed it was his favorite Great Adventure and he knew it was God who had done it. He was so happy.

And I was happy too, it felt like I had passed on the torch. Like I was saying, “I’ve done this a long time, but now it’s your turn. I trust you and know you’re ready.” It was such a joy to see a person I had invested in for 3 years celebrating God’s work and getting to enjoy something I had experienced before.

So, I think that’s a little glimpse of what discipleship is like. I hope you enjoyed the story.

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