Monthly Archives: February 2013

Reaching Beyond Ourselves

Recently, I’ve been really convicted about evangelism. I just don’t do it. I pray for opportunities, I plan what I want to say, then God opens up the opportunity . . . and I chicken out. I just make excuses and plan their response without even giving them or God a chance. It embarrasses me to admit that in the 13 years I have been saved, I’ve only attempted to share the Gospel 4-5 times. Through various devotionals, sermons, and scripture passages, God has laid this shortcoming of mine on my heart. I’d like to be able to stand before the throne of our heavenly Father one day and say, “I was not ashamed of the Gospel.”

So, I’ve been thinking, “What steps do I need to take, in order to start evangelizing?” Then it struck me…why am I wondering how to start evangelizing? If God has promised to give us the words to say, then all I need to do is open my mouth. There is nothing that should be holding us back from sharing the Gospel. We have no idea how long we will be on earth. In James 4:14, James reminds us that life is short and unpredictable. “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” I’m currently reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. He’s been expounding on this verse and challenging the reader to evaluate what is holding us back from sharing with others. He says that we should be obsessed with Christ and that following Christ’s example is not just a set of actions, but a lifestyle. I’ve recently been challenged by the question, “If a random stranger were asked to define your life/character in one sentence, what would it be?” I’d like to believe it would be a radical Christian who is dedicated to spreading the love of Christ and the message of salvation. Unfortunately, it would probably be something similar to, “A quiet, kind, 16-year-old girl who really enjoys Speech and Debate.” Or something along those lines. But that’s not who I want to be. I want to be so dynamic in my walk with my Savior, that it defines me. I’ve heard multiple times the illustration of a girl who recently has fallen in love. When a girl falls in love with a boy, that’s all she can talk about. Her life is wrapped up in one, consuming thought: Her beloved. If Christ is our Groom and we are in love with Him, then why don’t we talk about Him. If our lives are consumed  and enraptured by our Beloved, then sharing with others about Him should overflow naturally from us. We would not stop talking about Him. We would not stop thinking about Him. We would not stop glorifying Him.

It scares me to think that some will reach the gates of heaven and say like in Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” I can’t even imagine the horror they will feel, thinking they’ll be accepted, but instead being rejected. God has really  been burdening my heart with this and I’d really like to start doing something about it. I want to move past my fears and insecurities, so that I can be God’s tool.

My plan? Just to start it simply . . . if I see someone who looks like they’re hurting or down, I’m going to go to them and simply ask if they’re okay and if I can pray for them. Recently, the college ministry leader at our church said, “What’s the worst they can say? The worst they can say is ‘No, I don’t want your prayers.’ The majority of the time I ask if they want prayer, they break down and weep, then proceed to tell me their life story.” It inspired me to ask that simple question. “Can I pray for you?” We have no idea how God may use those 5 words to draw someone to Himself. So, who wants to join me in this journey of unknowns by reaching beyond ourselves and into the world around us? Stepping out in faith and trusting God to have His way with our words and actions. Let’s join hands and take this plunge together!

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All You Need is Love

Yep, all you need is love. That classic Beatles song embodies the misconception in today’s culture. In honor of today’s holiday, I’ve decided to write a post on Love. Not love in the romantic sense, but love in the biblical sense.

1 Corinthians 13

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Our culture inundates us with the “necessity” for romance in our lives. They compel us and urge us to search for love. We are deceived into believing that love will complete and fulfill everything we’ve ever hoped for. Unfortunately, this is a glorified idea of love. As much as I’d like to believe that finding love is going to solve my problems, I must realize that it will only lead to disappointment. So many people rush into relationships believing they have found love, when really, it’s only their tainted view of love. The result? They are disappointed, they have their hearts broken, and are often left emotionally scarred. A girl I met through my swim team was constantly fixated on “finding love” because she believed that without a boyfriend, she couldn’t and wouldn’t be happy. I swam with her for about 2 years, and during that time, she had a relationship with four or five different boys. The reason she broke up with each respective boy, was because he didn’t satisfy her in some way, shape, or form. For instance, one of them wasn’t a good kisser, another didn’t pay enough attention to her, and yet another just wasn’t as cute as another guy who asked her out. Her love was all about her and not about the other person. This showed me why many relationships fall apart. Society has misconstrued the concept of love and people center their relationships around a selfish form of love. 

So, what really is true love? Let’s take a look at the biblical definition of love. In 1 Corinthians 13, love is clearly defined. While culture says that love solves problems, never disappoints, and is all-fulfilling, the Bible says that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love does not insist on its own way, is not resentful or irritable. Ultimately, love doesn’t come without challenges, but love allows us to overcome these challenges and find resolution. True love will stand the test of time and conflict only draws two people closer when it is properly resolved. So, “finding love” won’t solve my or your problems, instead it will potentially magnify our problems/sin nature and refine us. As much as I wish that life was as simple as “All You Need is Love,” there is no benefit to be found in it.

Interestingly enough, last Sunday, we were going through “Vintage Jesus” by Mark Driscoll, and he was discussing “small ‘s’ saviors” and the capital ‘S’ Savior.” He explained that we need to be careful of and evaluate our relationships with others. All too often, we tend to raise those people we love the most to the position of a “small ‘s’ savior.” This, he said, not only destroys the person, but disappoints us. We are expecting that person to help us to grow in a way we never have before, make all of our problems better, and encourage us when we’re down. All of this they can do, but when we are expecting it from them, it wears them down and destroys them. They are going to fail us and we are going to fail them. Many people have made love their “small ‘s’ savior.” The result, is that they are continually let down. Continually disappointed. The only way that we can live and truly love is by reaching our for the “capital ‘S’ Savior.” He will never fail us, He can solve our problems, He will save us, and He will unconditionally love us. Christ is the ultimate example of true love. Let’s commit to following His example and leave our fickle, selfish love behind. Think about how much fuller life will be if we brace and equip ourselves to face the challenges of love!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

heart

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Haiti – Day 3

And day 3…

Haiti – Day 3 (July 14)

There is just so much to try and absorb from this trip! Today, we spent the morning trying to master the skits we’ll be performing for the kids in the VBS. It was a lot of fun, but it’s amazing how much work goes into just a few minute skit!After that, we danced and sang the songs we’ll be playing for the kids and learned the hand-motions. We have yet to perform them tonight. After lunch, some of us went for a hike with Dr. Combs and saw some of the houses in the countryside. What a beautiful place!! The hills were green and they had cows, pigs, and goats all over the place. We were able to see someone “building” their house too, which was really awesome. Basically, the structure of the house is made of sticks. Then, they take wet mud and cover the “skeleton” of the house. We saw so many kids. They are so excited to see their picture if you take one of them, because they don’t really get to see themselves that often. When we got back, I ended up taking a power nap and some time to “de-sweat” (sort of)! 😀 The kids had been arriving all day, so at 4:00pm we went out and played with them. From jump-roping to soccer and volleyball, we played around until dinner. Then, the rain came. It is soooo refreshing. I thank God for this rain. It doesn’t just rain in Haiti…it POURS!!! So, while it was raining, I went out and played “Ring-around-the-Rosy” with some Haitian girls and then they did my hair for me. They were so precious. They wanted to know why my hair wasn’t braided like theirs. 🙂

The house we saw being built

The house we saw being built

This is the reality of the starvation and poverty

This is the reality of the starvation and poverty but, as I said, they loved having their picture taken!

Beautiful hike

Beautiful hike

Once again, I have been so impacted by the joyful attitudes of these people. Just little, simply things bring a smile to their faces, not to mention mine! Things like playing games or just holding hands. This morning, I was reading in my Bible about not taking lightly the teaching and discipline of the Lord. I am trying rally hard to be listening to what He’s trying to teach me. I have found that self-reliance causes me to be self-conscious. This whole trip so far, though, has forced me to rely solely on God and others. I feel so much freedom! Freedom from worrying about whether people will judge me or not. Freedom from being uncomfortable when I don’t know anyone or what to do. Freedom from being enslaved by Kirsten. I’ve been able to be just genuinely me. It feels SSOOOO good!

Let the fun begin!! Tonight, we started the VBS by singing songs and dancing. The kids had so much fun. Then we were assigned a group of kids to be in charge of tomorrow. I have thirteen 6-8 year old little girls! Should be tons of fun!!!!

Lord, thank you so much for this beautiful country and these beautiful people. Thank you for bringing me here to serve and befriend them. Give me the strength, energy, and enthusiasm to make camp fun for all of the kids. Enable me to communicate to them Your love through my actions. Continue to teach me everything You want me to learn. Bless the church service tomorrow morning both here in Haiti and back in America. Allow each person to be touched by the message of Your love and grace and be able to take at least one thing away. Enable me to be comfortable and relate well to the kids and that we would be able to all get along together despite the language barrier. Thank you, God, for this wonderful opportunity! Enable me to make the most of it for Your glory. 

Just so you know, many of these journals were written in tears…These were my emotional outpourings of my heart onto paper. 🙂 Hope you all are enjoying reading these and the pictures!

Kirsten

Sweet little Haitian girls, dressed in their finest

Sweet little Haitian girls, dressed in their finest

Volleyball!
Volleyball!

Bubbles!
Bubbles!

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