NovelSisters

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Being With Jesus

Study, Read, Book, Bible, Koran, Torah, Religion

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So first off, I’m sorry for not posting last week. July has been a crazy month for me, full of vacations, Bible Clubs and my birthday. But during all the hubbub God has been teaching me something that is really important and I thought I’d share it.

To give some context, I’ve been reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship and also reading through Luke and several of the New Testament Letters this month. That’s part of where I’ve been learning from God. But I was also heavily involved in my church’s outreach called Great Adventure which involves Bible Clubs (similar to Vacation Bible School for those who don’t know what that is). And in the craziness and busyness of it all I realized that I was focusing on all of the little details of a club: how presentations went, if the leaders were connecting to kids, and if the kids were having fun or bored. One day I was focusing so much on all these details and what could have gone better, that I realized I was missing the point.

That night I read in Philippians about all the things Paul did that he now considered rubbish.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ… I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-“ Philippians 3:7-9

And in the next chapter he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

I had been so focused on works that I hadn’t remembered to rejoice in what God was doing. So I changed my perspective, and instead of looking at all the problems, I looked for all the ways God was at work. He was connecting students to kids, teaching students that He answers prayer, and showing us all that it wasn’t our effort or work that mattered, but His power.

But God wasn’t done with me. As I was reading in The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer dug deep into this passage:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” Matthew 7:21-23

Just as Paul said his works were worthless, these great deeds of casting out demons and healing people were worthless. My own efforts in doing Bible Clubs would be worthless too, if I missed the whole point. Why am I doing these things? If I’m not doing them with Jesus, for Jesus, and because of Jesus, then they are worthless.

Fast forward to this morning and I found myself reading Luke 10 and the last section jumped out at me:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I know God isn’t impressed with my works but all of these passages really reinforced that message. Jesus doesn’t care how much I do for Him, how many Bible clubs I help with, how many times I share the Gospel, how many people I serve and love. Those are all great things, and following Jesus does mean doing these things, but the whole point is being with Jesus, loving Jesus and knowing Jesus. If I forget that, it’s all meaningless. So I thought I’d share that with you today. Don’t forget to be with Jesus today.

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Why Go?

I felt like writing about this and giving my audience a heads up about my upcoming absence from blogging. In 12 days I will be heading off to Mozambique for a 2 week mission trip. This past week I was telling some friends about the trip and one asked me why I had decided to go. I gave her a short answer, but I thought it was a great question and deserved a more involved answer, so here it is.

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mozambique_in_Africa_(-mini_map_-rivers).svg

Why I am Going to Mozambique.

First off, there are a lot of passages in the Bible where God tells us to go, and says He is sending us to proclaim His word, to share the gospel, and to make disciples. I think there’s something about “going” that is important. It may not always be thousands of miles away, it could just be next door, but God tells us so often to “go” that it must be important. So part of my saying yes to a short term mission trip is because I want to be saying yes to God’s command to go. Here are a few of my favorite verses about going:

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.'” John 20:21

Secondly, I’ve gotten to experience several short term mission trips in the past and I don’t want to miss out. As I’ve grown up in my church I’ve gotten to be a part of 4 different mission trips. It’s been amazing to see God show up and do incredible things when you’re surrounded by people trying to serve God and listen for His calling and just stay focused on Him. From construction projects, to running some kind of kids club, or carrying rocks to sharing the gospel, mission trips have a large range of adventures. And I’ve found that even when we make plans for what we will do in a foreign country, the plans often get changed… multiple times. But it’s a joy to be a part of something lasting; something God is doing.

And one time when I was in college, I was invited to go on a short term mission trip over Spring Break and I thought I was too busy, so I said no. And afterward I regretted it. I heard some of the stories of what God did on the trip, but I wasn’t a part of it and it felt like I had missed out on something good. So now when there are opportunities for me to go, I don’t want to say no.

And lastly, I’m going because I’m available. Right now, I am single. No spouse, no kids, and my job is fairly flexible. I still have good insurance for another year and I’m in good health. I don’t know how long this will last. I may have to change jobs, or I may get married and have kids which brings many more responsibilities. But right now, I’m in a place where I can go. So why wait? At least that’s what it seemed like God was telling me.

And so I’m going because God commanded us to go, because I don’t want to miss out, and because I am ready and available. It’s such a blessing to be a part of God’s mission, whether here or in another country and I can’t wait to be able to share all that I learn and see on this blog when I get back.

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Bearing Other’s Burdens

This past year I learned a lot about fulfilling the law of Christ, or bearing others’ burdens. So much so that I thought I would do a blog post about it. So here it goes.

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Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -NIV or in anther version “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” -ESV.

And this makes sense, even if you’re not a Christian. It’s hard to go through life all by yourself. We need other people, to advise us, encourage us, listen to us complain, or just be there when we hit a rough patch. So why is this fulfilling the law of Christ? What’s so special about this command and what does it look like in everyday life?

Well, I’d say that this command is important because it ties into the golden rule,”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It also connects with Jesus’s teaching about the greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

So bearing others’ burdens is showing them love, and fulfilling the greatest commandment. But what does it actually mean to “bear a burden?” I don’t think God is telling us to go find people who need help moving and start carrying their boxes into the moving truck, or if you’re a student to start carrying other kid’s backpacks at school. Don’t get me wrong helping people can have various applications and maybe actually carrying a heavy object is sometimes what we should do. But I think it boils down to what people get stressed out about.

This past year I’ve had plenty of opportunities to listen to other people talk about their problems, worries, concerns, and stress-filled lives. And I think that sometimes, this is what people really need. They need to know someone cares when they’re having a bad day, or a bad month. And it may not seem like much, but listening to others vent is sometimes all that they really need. In some cases, you might get to go a step further and offer help with whatever is stressing them out, but sometimes the situation cannot be changed, and the best thing to do is listen.

I would like to provide a word of caution though. In my experiences I see that many people in relationships can fall into two roles: The Talker, and The Listener. In a healthy relationship, the two friends can switch roles and be both a listener and a talker. But if the roles never switch, it can easily become one person always bearing the weight of the other person’s problems, without getting to release their own stress. I’ve been in this situation before. Sometimes I felt that my friend’s problems were so huge compared to mine that I didn’t have a right to talk about myself or what I was struggling with. But that’s not true, we all need to bear each others’ burdens (especially in the church). So that means take time to listen and be ready to talk.

Another caution I would add to this is that sometimes when sharing about difficult problems, a friend may ask that it be kept secret. And I believe that is good thing, however, swearing a friend to secrecy and forcing them not to tell anyone, is a bit of a stretch. You don’t want to blab what you know to everyone, but sometimes knowing someone else’s stress, creates stress in your own life, and if you can’t talk about it to anyone because of secrecy, that makes it even worse for you.

Lastly, I want to mention that none of us have to bear our burdens or our friends’ burdens alone. As Christians we can bring all of these burdens to Christ and ask Him to do the heavy lifting. He tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

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