Friday, February 28, 2014

Who I am

I am a mom.

I am a wife.

I am a friend.

I am a cook, a maid, a chauffer, a counselor, a daughter, a sister.  I am a family manager, a wanna-be writer, a student, and a bible study teacher.

I am an extrovert.  I talk.  A lot!  I am loud.  I am opinionated.  

I am a former cheerleader, a Jayhawk, a book lover, a runner (sort of), a lover of fashion.  

I am Jesus lover, a disciple of Christ and a child of the one true King. 

That is who I am.  

THAT is my identity.  

What is yours? 

Today we find ourselves in the thanksgiving section of 1 Corinthians.  Open your Bible and read 1 Cor. 1:4-9.  In these verses Paul is doing a couple of things.  One, he is giving thanks for the people of Corinth - that one is pretty obvious. But he is also pointing out to them their identity.  He is telling them who they are, or at least who they want to be, who they claim to be.  We will soon find out that they aren't exactly living up to this identity.  

Can you relate to that?  Is the person you want to be, claim to be, describe yourself to be, really the person that you are?  Sometimes we are our own worst critic.  Many times we are far too hard on ourselves.  But there are also times, when our eyes are closed to the truth.  When we are so busy believing we are a certain thing, a certain way, we can't see how wrong we actually are.  This is what happened to the Corinthians.  

They placed their very identity in their rhetoric speech, on their knowledge, and their gifts; not realizing these were the very things they were getting completely wrong.  

These days our culture encourages us to place our identity in our checking account (when it is plentiful and when it is lacking), in our children, or our social calendar.  We are told to place our identity in our job, our hobbies, or our successes.  Yet just like the Corinthians these are the things we are getting completely wrong.

Our identity needs to be, must be in Christ, above all else.  Before our family, before our careers, before our passions or hobbies.  Our identity should be a testimony to Christ Jesus.  And that should be demonstrated by our actions not just our words.  It should be apparent to all we meet just who we are in Christ.  

It is in Christ and through Christ that we are who we are.  That we have the gifts we have.  And those gifts should point people directly back to Christ.  If not for Him, we would not have what we have.  We are a living testimony of the goodness, mercy and grace that comes from Christ.  He is our identity.

And when our actions do not match up with our identity (as was the case with the Corinthians) it is our actions that need to change, not who we claim to be.  This is nearly impossible to do on our own.  But Paul assures us that Christ will keep us strong to the end.  When your identity is in Christ, it is through His strength that we are able to live the life we are called to live.  

I am a mom.

I am a wife.

I am a friend.

But first and foremost, I am a child of the one true King.

That is who I am.

Who are you?


Monday, February 24, 2014

You Are a Saint

I am stuck at home today with a not-really-sick sick kiddo (boy did he fool mom)!  So between entertaining him and trying to study I am ready for a break!  How about a quick trip to Corinth?

I only made it through the first verse in 1 Corinthians with my last post "A Walk Through Corinth".  So how about we cover the whole salutation today, verses 1-3! So pull out your Bible and read 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (I told you this would be an easy Bible study)!

Verse one tells us who the letter is from, the apostle Paul and his brother Sosthenes.  And verse two tells us who the letter is to, the Church in Corinth, to all the people in Corinth who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus.  Let's just stop right there for a second.  

It wasn't very long ago that I had no idea what it meant to be sanctified.  So just in case you are in that boat, let me help you out.  Being sanctified means being made holy.  This is a tricky translation when you move from Greek to English, because we don't have the proper grammar to support it.  But in Greek this refers to something that happened in the past but still continues to happen today.  Sanctification is not a once in a lifetime event, but something that continues on throughout one's lifetime.  

The people in Corinth, just like you and I today, are sanctified (or made holy) in Christ Jesus.  Even though we continue to make mistakes and sin, Christ is continually saving us, not just once, but over and over again.  It is a continual process.  THAT is why Paul called these people - whom he was about to reprimand for all their sin - sanctified.  That is why he called them  holy, or in some translations (NASB) "saints".  Not a term I would have used to describe them (or me), but it turns out Paul is much smarter than I am.  He understands that God has called all of us to be saints.  God has "set us apart for participation" (that is what it means to be "called" in Greek).  We are called or set apart for participation in holiness or sainthood.  This is clearly something we can not accomplish on our own, but IN Christ, BECAUSE of Christ, we are ALL holy, we are all saints.  At least all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to be their Lord.  

How do we participate in this?  Through being part of a body of believers, an active participant in a body of believers.    Being part of the body of Christ, an active participant, will make you holy because Christ is holy.  

Paul then gives the entire church grace and peace on behalf of God the Father and Jesus the Lord.  Shalom peace.  Peace that isn't just inside you but through you to another person.  The kind of peace that erases division, unites hearts, and tempers hurt.  Peace that passes individual peace of mind and encompasses a community.   Peace that only comes from Christ.

In these quick 3 verses Paul established his authority of someone of influence.  He reminded the church (and the individual members of the church) that they are holy, sanctified in Christ Jesus and set apart to participate in the body of Christ.  And he offered them peace and grace.

Paul had essentially one goal for the first ten verses of 1 Corinthians and that is to define the identity of the Church of Corinth.  His goal is to tell them who they are.  And he starts with … you are holy, you are a saint.  This was a message for the first century Corinthian church and it is a message for us today.

You my friend are holy.  YOU have been called, God has set you apart for participation in the body of Christ.  Believe this, embrace this, live this.

You my friend, are a saint.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Walk Through Corinth

My classes are in full swing and I am treading water just as fast as I can trying to stay afloat.  For some reason (I think it was the hope of actually graduating some day) I decided to take 2 classes this semester.  That may have been a logistical error on my part, but I have to say I am enjoying them both and LOVING one of them!  

This semester I am finally taking the type of class I have been hoping to take all along - a  book of the Bible.  For 14 weeks (technically 12 more) I will be studying 1 Corinthians, and I cannot tell you how much I have learned in just 2 short weeks.  In the first 3.5 hour lecture we covered 3 whole verses!  It is a pretty in depth class.  

Though my time is short I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to share with you what I am learning.  So I thought we might be able to do a little mini bible study, right here!  It is as low of a commitment as your going to find, just read the blog (whenever I get a chance to post or whenever you get a chance to read), read a short passage of scripture, and think about what it might mean to you.  That's it!  So go get a cup of coffee, a soda, or your drink of choice, grab your Bible and pull up a chair.  

To get a little background on 1 Corinthians it is helpful to look at Acts chapter 18 first.  This will cover the time Paul was in Corinth (he spent about 18 months there) building the church he would later write a few letters to.  So pull out your Bibles or go to and read Acts 18:1-22 (this will be the longest passage of the whole study I promise!!!!)

During the 18 months Paul was in Corinth he worked as a tent maker with Aquila and Priscilla you may (or may not) recognize their names, but they will come up again so try to remember them!  When Paul wasn't making tents he was at the synagogue trying to persuade the Jews and the Greeks.  The synagogue is where people went to pray and for religious teaching.  It was where city records (birth, wedding, death certificates) were kept.  It was a central meeting place.  This is not where people went to make sacrifices or atonement, this is not where they necessarily carried out any of the mosaic law.  It was more a place of debate and teaching, a place to see and be seen.  

Paul's ministry picked up once Silas and Timothy joined him.  Although a few Jewish people, even a couple of Jewish leaders like Crispus the leader of the synagogue (whose name will come up again) converted to Christianity, by and large the Jews were unreceptive to Paul's message so he turned to the Gentiles in Corinth.  And the church started to grow.  

In fact the church started to grow SO much that the Jews got a little worried and the new synagogue leader (since the old leader Crispus was now a Christian) Sosthenes (remember that name too) brought Paul up on charges in front of the proconsul (the Roman authority in Corinth).  The judge however threw out the charges and Paul was allowed to go on teaching.  The Jews, so mad that Paul walked off scot free, started to beat their own leader Sosthenes!

Some time after that Paul, Aquila and Priscilla all left Corinth for Syria and eventually Ephesus.  It is during his time in Ephesus that we think he wrote the letter we know refer to as 1 Corinthians.  

So real quick turn in your Bible to 1 Corinthians (promise it will be short - I am only going to talk about 1 verse!)  and read verse 1.  "Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother."  Recognize the name?  Sosthenes?  As in Sosthenes the Jewish synagogue leader who attempted to have Paul tried in a Roman court?  He is now Paul's brother?   Really???

We have no way of knowing definitively if this is in fact THAT Sosthenes.  But the only time his name is mentioned in 1 Corinthians is right here.  It is almost like his name alone will give Paul and his letter some authority.  We might not know exactly who he is, but I guarantee you the Corinthians did!  Just for arguments sake let's say this IS the same guy.  The 2nd leader of the Jewish Synagogue in Corinth that Paul converted, along with many others.  It starts to make more sense why the Jews were so upset with Paul, he was doing some serious damage to the religious culture.  Clearly Paul was influential in Corinth and it is no wonder then that his letter would be received as something to pay heed to.  

Ok, that's is it for now, I have to get to studying.  But until next time (whenever that might be) think about this.  Who in your life is influencing you? And are they influencing you in the right direction?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love the One In Front of You

It just so happens I have the INCREDIBLE blessing of living right next door to one of my best friends.

We don't live beside each other because we are friends.  We are friends because we are neighbors.  We didn't even know each other prior to us moving in, and we weren't evenly instantly close friends.  It was a friendship that grew and developed over a number of years and heartfelt conversations.  We have cried a few tears together, laughed a whole lot of laughs together, loved on each other's kids and shared in each other's passions.  

I convinced her to run my first marathon with me (she convinced me to run the second with her).  She taught me where all the best boutiques in the city are and I taught her where to get the best running shoes.  She is the one I have whispered all my hope-to-somedays to and she has done the same.  She is the one who convinced me to go to Haiti 17 months ago.  And in just a few days she will return to this land she taught me to love.  

As she prepares to go love on some orphans I can't help but remember my own trip to Haiti.

Recognizing that the idea of loving on an orphan for a few days and than leaving might leave us feeling hopeless, like we made no difference, our motto for the time we were there was "Love the one in front of you".  And we did!  We loved on every orphan, momma (those in charge of the daily care of the orphans), support team member and Haitian we met.  There was a little freedom in releasing it all to God.  HE was in charge of who he put in our path, all we were to do was love them as Christ would.  It was easier than you might think.  Away from all the distractions of our daily life and the hustle and bustle of our culture.  To just sit down with a perfect stranger and say "tell me about yourself"; to look a child in the eye and whisper in their ear "Jesus LOVES you! (and SO DO I)!!!"; to take a crying child from a tired momma and tell her to take a little break.  It was surprisingly easy to just love the one in front of you.

The truth of the matter is, you don't have to go to Haiti to experience this.  ALL any of us are called to do is LOVE the one in front of us.  It's up to God to decide who that person is going to be we are just called to LOVE them!  Love them like Christ would.  

The man at the gas station who took your spot?  Love him.  Let him have the spot, even smile at him, give him a wave.

The over-tired and grumpy check out lady?  Love her.  Smile, tell her you appreciate what she is doing, recognize how tire she must be standing on her feet all day in one spot!!!

Your child who is screaming at you for _______, for the thousandth time?  Love her.  That doesn't mean you have to cave.  Just love her.  Smile at her (and make it reach your eyes), tell her you love her, give her your attention and love her.

The spouse who said the WRONG thing?  Love him.  Forgive him.  Give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn't mean to hurt you and even if he did, still forgive him.  Love him.

The neighbor you adore?  or the one don't?  Love them.

Your child's overworked teacher who snapped at your kid?  Love her.

The older gentlemen you got stuck behind at the grocery store when you were already running late?  Love him.  He probably isn't used to doing this himself and he may need some help.  Carry his groceries for him.  Love him.  

It doesn't matter where you are, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, standing in your own gourmet kitchen, or somewhere in between.  You are called to love the one in front of you?

Will you do it?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chasing A Dream

It is just after 6 am.  

This is the 4th day this week I crawled out of bed when the first number on the clock started with a 5.

I am NOT a morning person.  Some people are.  I am not.

This is also the 4th day this week my kids will not be in school.  We had 3 snow days that blended in to a teacher work day that will blend in to the weekend.  

They already have 2 days scheduled off for next week. 

I love my kids.  

I love sledding, playing board games, watching movies, just hanging out.

But I also have dreams, commitments, and obligations. 

One class may have been canceled on Tuesday but online classes don't get snow days, bloggers don't get snow days, I still speak on Sunday and the message needs to be written, I still have 2,500 more pages to read.  

So I have been waking up obscenely early (at least for me).  So I can "work" while the kids still sleep and "play" while they are awake.

I'm tired.  Very, very tired, and it is technically only the first week of school.

Don't for a minute think that chasing your dream is going to be easy.  Don't think you can accomplish your goals in your spare time.  Dreams take sacrifice, dreams take commitment.  

But they are so very, very worth it.

I don't wish for more hours in the day. 

God has given me all the time I need to accomplish what he has planned for me to do.  It just means I might not get to sleep as much as I would like, watch TV as much as I would like.  Just sit as much as I would like.

But that's okay, because  I am chasing a dream.  

I'm doing what God has asked me to do.

I guess I better get to work.  I have a dream to chase!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Entertaining Angels

I recently found a verse in the Bible that I have NEVER noticed before!  I am pretty sure God just added it!  

Okay, I know that doesn't really happen.  The verse has always been there, it's probably been your favorite verse since you were a child, but really, I had never read this verse in my life!!!!  I'm not sure how I missed it.  

Isn't it funny how you can be so familiar with one section of the Bible that it becomes all you see and somehow you completely miss the amazing thing sitting right next to it.  Or maybe that just happens to me?

I have read through the book of Hebrews countless times before it.  It has some of my very favorite verses in it…

Hebrew 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (NIV)

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Hebrews 12:28  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe."

even Hebrews 13:5  "Keep you lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…"

So how did I miss Hebrews 13:2???  This verse was brand new to me as of a couple of weeks ago.  
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people
 have entertained angels without knowing it." Heb 13:2

What a beautiful verse!!!

The city I live in has been virtually shut down by a snow storm just rolling in.  The kids school was cancelled over 12 hours prior to any snow even arriving!  And it reminded of something my parents did years ago.

I grew up in tiny little farm town in central Kansas.  Really,  TINY!!!  I love it!  But trust me, it's small!  There are no restaurants, no hotels or motels, no place to stay for travelers who might get trapped along our stretch of interstate.  It doesn't happen very often, but on occasion it does.  One time, years ago, a snowstorm blew in, closing the interstate and trapping a couple of travelers in our little town.  They ended up at the grocery store, the only place in town open, and that is where my dad happened to find them.  

I'm not sure if I have ever told you about my dad and brother but someday I will, they would make a great post.  For pretty much all the life I remember my dad was a firefighter, Fire Chief actually.  My brother followed in his footsteps.  I love, respect and admire these men, more than I have ever told them.  They are truly Hero's to me.  

So when these poor travelers were trapped in this little one horse town (literally).  The local hero swooped into save the day.  Much to my mothers surprise Dad came home from the store, not only with bread and mild but a couple of strangers as well!  My parents welcomed these total strangers into their home, fed them, gave them a warm bed for the night, and in the morning when the roads had been cleared, sent them on their way.  

I am not suggesting you go to the grocery store and pick up a couple of strangers to take home, but what would happen, if we really cared for, loved, the stranger.  If when we met someone in the check out line, at the gas station, or who knows where, we welcomed them, cared for them, treated them with respect and admiration.  Don't you think it would start to change things?  Maybe not the world, but something?

Christ himself said, "…Whatever you did for the least of these brother of mine, you did for me."  Treat others as if they were Christ himself and who knows you might even entertain an angel!