challenges

/Tag: challenges

Church Conflict 101

“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:2-3).

The Body of Christ is a blessed place, a community, a family to be in and a part of. Paul shows us, though, throughout his letters that church conflict is unfortunately normative. We are still sinners, awaiting the return of Christ and desperately needing his grace in the meantime.

My home church recently toiled through some ugly conflict. The pattern is sadly typical in our lives as Christians. Feelings get hurt, we want control, pride is injured, or perhaps we do not understand proper biblical leadership. We hold grudges, we gossip, we act out, we point fingers.

Church Conflict 1012019-10-08T02:29:18+00:00

Jacob and the Ladder

How many people does it take to tell you something and actually believe it is true?

To tell you that the objective of life is not to just escape through with the least amount of scars, and to bemoan the ones you carry?

To tell you that you are beautiful, a treasure, worth a suffering and a sacrifice?

To tell you that your sins and flaws and edges and grotesque deformities don’t negate unconditional love from your Father in heaven?

 

Wrestling with the truth leaves you tired. I’ve been mulling over all these things, which have come to light this semester as I’ve been reading and writing and contemplating my life and post-Year-4 existence. I’ve been studying Ruth and Hosea and Genesis and 1 Samuel and realizing the same God who was there in the beginning has always been relational and has always mourned the disobedience of his people.

I have read examples over and

Jacob and the Ladder2016-10-24T03:37:56+00:00

Proper Lives Lived

“‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.’”
—Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

 

 

Her parents started a major missions organization that impacts thousands of Eastern European youth each year and has ignited a gospel hunger where the Iron Curtain once hung. Her mom wrote a book detailing the life story of their family and how the mission happened by God’s grace and leading. I am privileged to call this dear sister a very close friend. Her faith and contentment inspire me.

As I skimmed the memoir her mom wrote of saying “Yes” to God, I’ve been thinking about how every fiber of my being longs to live a life of “Yes”– to God’s plan, will, and promises.

The hard part about saying, “I surrender all” to God is that there’s a ton of suffering that accompanies that, because God uses trials to shape us,

Proper Lives Lived2019-10-08T02:29:18+00:00

Proper Goodbyes

Tears welled up in his eyes and his throat closed shut and he creaked out the words between swallows.

“I don’t want to write a book…I don’t need a big church…if you guys email me or call me in five, ten, fifteen, thirty years and tell me you’re still following Jesus, that’s all I want.”

That is my college pastor’s desired legacy. I yearn to have that same devotion to Christ, to people.

Today was his last Sunday morning with us. I’ve been encouraged, inspired, and fed under the teaching of this incredible pastor for the past 8 months. He has called out potential in me, stimulated the faith of others, and welcomed countless students into him and his family’s lives.

As I read the book of Genesis, I’m seeing the incredible faith and devotion of Abraham. Like my pastor, I look at this guy who demonstrated such a devotion to God’s call. My

Proper Goodbyes2016-09-12T04:02:06+00:00

Small Escalator to the Dungeon

Orlando.

Jane Doe, the survivor of the Stanford rape case.

I read their words today.

The world is broken, suffering, a slew of one-after-the-others. ISIS. Another Ebola outbreak. Another mass shooting at a high school. Another high-profile sexual assault case. Another child who dies of cancer.

I find myself sometimes, in the teeny tiny recesses of my heart, quietly asking God is the gospel is enough.

“Lord, is the Good News…is Jesus actually enough to heal and make right and restore?”

“Lord. Are you actually enough to fix all this?”

Doubt is real in the face of a groaning planet where humans are starting wars and destroying each others’ bodies or you find yourself waiting for “the phone call” that someone in your family has an incurable disease.

Doubt is real when you wonder if your grandma’s heart will ever soften towards the true Gospel and if Christians will ever act like Christians.

I heard a message on Romans

Small Escalator to the Dungeon2016-06-13T22:42:37+00:00

Formica Counter-ing Culture

“Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.”   -King Solomon. Prov 4:23.

I grew up in the mid-2000s, hyper-purity youth group culture of Christianity. Youth group emphasized saving yourself for marriage, dating was implied to be bad, and everyone was always wondering whether or not you “liked” a guy because you talked to him for more than eight seconds. I remember specifically attending a conference on relationships as a teenager where the entire emphasis was, literally, about keeping your pants on. They were selling checkered suspenders in the lobby.

And then I went to Bible College.

Cue confusion over courtship, paranoia about sneak-attack coffee dates (“Is is a date? Does he like me? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN”), and engagements left and right. It’s a strange arena to attempt navigation, and the Starbucks counter down the street has witnessed many a DTR

Formica Counter-ing Culture2016-05-30T20:26:15+00:00

Broken Batteries

“I’ve been told I’m just a body.”

“I struggle feeling like I’m too broken for God to actually use me.”

“I think God sees me as a piece of dirt.”

“I look so ugly unless I wear makeup.”

“I never want to be raped again.”

Heartbreak, over and over again. I am sitting across Starbucks tables, carpet floors, couches, cups of tea and coffee when I hear these words. My spirit is continually rent by the twisted lies coming out of the mouths of these women, young twenty-somethings who have been repressed and depressed and caged by various turmoils.

I am small. So. Terribly. Small. What on earth am I supposed to say, when the backstories come out and I haven’t lived through half of the nightmares of half of these voices? What do you offer souls that have been busted? How can I reverse a lifetime of degradation at the hands of an abusive father,

Broken Batteries2019-10-08T02:29:18+00:00

Broken Beating Hearts

Tonight, I met Hagar.

She was pushing a stroller at top speed through the subway tunnel. She was haggard, dirty, poorly dressed. Her daughter was eerily silent.

“Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help me out?”

Metra ticket….safe house for women leaving abusing relationships….they’re saving a bed for her but she needs to get to Kenosha….

I didn’t have my purse. She left as fast as she arrived.

I was frozen to the cement and felt a wave of emotion. I wanted the scene to be put on hold so I could sit there for a moment, process the fact that this woman was on her own, with a baby, run down, with nothing to her name.

God, do you see her? Will you encounter her, save her, restore her?

My heart is continually made heavy by the racking pain of other people’s stories. My story is hard, but it’s pretzels compared to 99% of

Broken Beating Hearts2016-04-05T01:54:02+00:00

I’d like to order one Rapture, please…

It’s hard to look at the monstrous expectations of your future and of yourself and not be overwhelmed. I want to grow up well. I want to do this life thing right, honor God, finish strong. Keep going….

There are plenty of folks in Scripture I can see parallels with. It’s hard not to feel like Timothy sometimes, staring at a rag-tag congregation of Ephesians who are veering into idolatry and Paul’s far away and it’s up to his youthful, dreadfully inexperienced self to protect the deposit of truth and lead them back. The pressure against maintaining the Gospel even among his own was very real.

It’s hard not to feel like Daniel, a kid in a foreign land where they’re forcing him to melt into a new identity and making him do things his Jewish mother would gasp at, and he’s navigating the war between inner resolve and compromise. The pressure

I’d like to order one Rapture, please…2019-10-08T02:29:19+00:00

Perhaps

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” the congregation sang. Worshiping at a historic church here in the City, I receive a weekly dose of beauty and hymnody. This morning, as I looked another semester square in the face and was wondering how long I’d be able to retain my mental capacities, I joined in singing these words.

“Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow…”

Anxiety is a crippling demon that drowns out the truth. Shutting out the reality that God is here and able prevents us, his children, from letting the peace of Christ rule richly in our lives (Col 3:15). We have peace that endureth, and we are united with the One who has bestowed pardon for sin.

The thing is, God always comes through. What does that mean? It means that he never fails and always does what is right. This could mean that he chooses not to rescue us from our

Perhaps2019-10-08T02:29:19+00:00