You don’t have to look too deep into our culture to recognize an ever increasing climate of outrage, suspicion and disunity. It’s everywhere now. And it’s not limited to political spheres or social media anymore. These sentiments are being echoed in our kitchens, the grocery stores, playgrounds, PTA groups, and even in our churches. It’s obvious. We are at odds with one another.
With a presidential election looming nearer by the day, debates are starting to fire up more regularly. Everyone seems to have an opinion about hot-button political issues: the role of government, immigration, the environment, socialism, capitalism, Nickleback — you name it! Regardless of what side of any given issue you might land on, it is safe to say that everyday situations are starting to feel a bit hostile.
I almost rushed past it. I had sat down for the first time in a couple weeks to read my Bible and spend time with Jesus. To be honest, even if it weren’t for all the traveling and summer activities that had been keeping me busy, I still had been struggling with feeling pretty detached and dry. I hadn’t read my Bible in weeks.
There I was. Standing in my bathroom; one of the few places I could find solitude. As a mama of three toddlers I have learned that in order to get alone time, I have to be a little creative. I was there because I had started to feel an ache again. An ache to pursue a dream that had been on my heart for years. But here’s the rub, I felt conflicted. Wasn’t my family supposed to get everything from me? Wasn’t I supposed to be there for them completely? How could I devote myself to them and pursue something else?
If you do not have Netflix, the craze of decluttering and organizing until your living room could make the pages of Better Homes & Gardens might have slipped by you. The Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo reintroduces the KonMari method of tidying. However, what if we are not just trying to declutter our homes, but everything else in our lives, too?
New Year's Day has come and gone and whether you declared a new year's resolution or not, the coming of a new year always brings with it a certain, unexplainable hope. On New Year’s Eve, as I count down to midnight, everything appears to happen in slow motion. As everyone in the room begins to count down from ten as loud as they can, I always take a moment to stop and scan the room. I look at my friends and family one by one, all smiling, and can't help but feel that beautiful hope bubbling up inside of me.
As a child, I always wondered who I was supposed to be. I knew I believed in God and I believed that he had sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay for my sins. I did not, however, know how that belief was supposed to take shape in my day-to-day life. Should I go to church every Sunday and invite my friends over and over to come with me? Should I wear a WWJD bracelet or get a WWJD bumper sticker? Should I only listen to K-Love on the radio? The question of how being a follower of Christ should look constantly ran through my head and I spent the majority of my life getting different answers from different people—living in constant confusion.
I stood in my kitchen, dirty dishes piled up on every counter. Water was leaking from under the sink, from under the dishwasher, all over my hardwood floor. Just another Saturday, I thought as I rolled my eyes and tried to take calming breaths. We did the dishes in the bathtub, only to make dinner which of course, led to more dirty dishes piled up again.
As followers of Christ or even those of us who are searching, we want to experience God's presence in our lives. This is manifested in different ways. Sometimes we want to experience His power, His peace, His direction, His healing, His hope, or His wisdom. However, no matter how much we want those things or even pray for those things, we still aren't experiencing God in the way we want.
Last month, a team of 5 from Relevant – Debi Jaeke, Laura Malsam, Natalie Meeske, Kristin Nelson, and I – had the awesome opportunity to visit the Safe Haven Orphanage! On previous trips, Tasanee had shared with us her and the children’s desire for additional English lessons, beyond what the kids have in school. God provided an awesome team of skilled educators to be a part of this trip, who willingly used their spring breaks to travel to the Thai/Burma border!
Because of Relevant’s generosity, Safe Haven was able to put the finishing touches on a new stage just in time for their Christmas celebration. The old stage was deteriorating and was no longer usable for the Christmas performances of singing, dancing, and acting that the children put on. From Tasanee: I would love to thank you Relevant Community Church so much for our new stage. Wish you all the best. Merry Christmas to you all.
Digital communication, including texts and emails, is a great way to communicate information and facts quickly, efficiently, and effectively. But what texts and emails can’t communicate are emotions, your heart, eye contact, non-verbal cues, forgiveness, love, etc…all the things that are required for a relationship to really flourish. Those things can only be experienced in true relational connection…face-to-face.
Too often we make “inviting someone to church” WAY more intimidating than it needs to be. Numerous research studies show that people are much more likely to show up on a Sunday morning than we think. The key ingredient that these studies find is that people will show up if invited by someone they know. So let’s explore easy ways to extend an invitation to someone in our life who doesn’t normally “go to church”.
The season of Lent starts today. Lent is the 40 days that lead up to Good Friday, the day we recognize Jesus’ death on the cross. I’ve always looked at Lent as a very “religious” thing; something “religious” people do. I’ve been challenged to “give things up” for Lent. In the past, I’ve tried and failed to sacrifice things like soda (“pop” for the natives) and watching hockey. My heart has never really been in it.