Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Why Do You Believe?

 Because I have moved a ton in my life and traveled even more, my faith has never been defined by denomination (Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.) - I was simply a Christian.  I chose my churches based on their views of the Bible and their practiced spiritual priorities.  

So in 2005, when the church I'd worked for, for 3 years, left the denomination because of the denomination's decision to change the definition of "salvation" and adopt a more universal approach to their faith, I didn't see a problem.  We had to stand by the definition of Christian, as outlined in the Bible.  I was flabbergasted by the encounters I had with others who felt more allegation to the denomination than to Christianity as a whole.  They had always been a part of the Disciples of Christ denomination and that identity was supreme to them.  

Even though that choice felt foreign to me, its not uncommon.   As I read through Nabeel Qureshi's book, "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus," I become more aware of just how impossible walking away from ones' belief system can be.  Its like the childhood assumptions created a foundation that our very identity hinges on and challenging that threatens one's perceived identity.  But this isn't just about changing religions.  

When I arrived in Visalia, and began to study the Bible from the perspective of the Jewish faith and Middle Eastern culture (from where it was written), I was in awe of how I had let Western culture taint my understanding of what the Bible was actually saying.  I realized a faith I accepted at 4, had been built upon often by uneducated volunteers filling a spot in some Sunday school class and that I had believed things just simply because someone told me to, not because I had been shown it as truth. 
Believing something doesn't make it true.  

Its hard to see  truth when it stands in opposition to something you have believed as truth your whole life.  It begins to open Pandora's box of wondering what beliefs are open for questioning.   Here's the thing when it comes to my faith, I am committed to believing what the Bible actually says, not what I believed it said just because its tradition.   

Studying the Bible has proven to be an enemy making activity.  Why? The more I study it and take it for what it really says in context of culture and situations of that day, the more I find myself alienated from established Christian groups.  Within the Christian community it would seem, I am by all accounts too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.   But our beliefs shouldn't be a package deal - believing x means you also believe in y and z.  

What changed for me? 

Issues like women's role in ministry, what is hell, and understanding what specific scriptures were actually saying began to completely change as I examined the original language and context of the scriptures.  

Reading my Bible wasn't enough, I had to study it.  If I assert that I believe in the Bible as God's word - active and alive, then I must know exactly what that means in order to truly live up to my calling of sharing the good news!!! 

This challenge isn't to tell you if you disagree with me, you are wrong, rather, its to ask, why do you believe what you believe?  Do you believe in something because you studied it and believe its truth or do you believe it because that is what you were always told to believe? I want to believe truth even when it crumbles the traditions I've always held true.  

So I end with this question: Why Do You Believe What You Believe? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Making Friends In Your 30's and 40's

I am outgoing, I love to talk and I crave connection. Making friends was always pretty easy for me when I was younger.    As long as I was in school there was always a ready-made audience of people I could engage in conversation with which to build friendships. 

I have noticed as I've aged, the opportunities to meet people hasn't been as plentiful.  I have found these five things to be helpful in making friends in my 30's (and I'm guessing 40's - even though I don't hit 40 til September so if  I'm wrong, let me know). 

 Not everyone will be your best bud.  If you have 2-3 close friends, know you are heads above the rest.  In 2006, Janet Kornblum wrote an article in USA Today stating that 25% of people don't even have one close friend.  We have a very lonely society and internet dependence isn't helping matters.  I've said it before and I will keep saying it - online interaction should enhance your offline life, not replace it! Okay, now that I got that off my chest – onto the list!

 1.  Be Intentional

 We need relationships - some of us more than others so you have to be intentional!!!  Don't just expect people to come running, you have to initiate conversations and interactions. When my prayer group dissembled, I decided to start up my own.  I didn't just wait for the next opportunity, I went for it.  I invited a dozen friends, only one has met with me regularly and a few others come as they can, but I will tell you, that one and I have become close.   Join groups, talk to that fellow mom at pick up, invite an acquaintance to lunch -  just figure out a way to get in there and put in the effort.  

2. Be Uncomfortable

Put yourself out there and engage people even if its outside your comfort zone, yes its uncomfortable and awkward, but friendships aren't made in comfort zones, goals aren't met there either.  You have to be willing to be rejected and mocked, knowing that the end game is worth the work.  I have so much more to say on this but that is a post all on its own.  

3. Be Open

Understand that you may not always know, by appearances, who is going to be your friend.  Friendship is based on so many factors – many aren’t obvious at first glance.  Being open also means being open to possibilities of why someone isn’t connecting with you.  It’s easy to assume a rejection back story, but they might not be able to leave their safe space as easily.  That's ok.  Assuming someone's motives isn't. 

 4. Be Persistent

 What happens when someone rejects you (for whatever the reason)? You get up and you go again. Starting my own business this past September has taught me to embrace the "no's" and just keep going.  Success doesn't come in the absence of failure and rejection but in the persistence to continue despite it.  This resonates equally in the area of relationships. 

5.  Be Genuine

 Be yourself.  To have a deep friendship you need to be you.  I have a funny, loud laugh, I love corny jokes and I cry A LOT! I mean A LOT!  I love expressing emotion and the people that get me, get it.  I know I'm annoying sometimes, but my best friends love me in the midst of it.  It’s not worth the time and energy relationships take to be someone else only to have that friendship fall a part because you weren't doing you.

 So there is it.  If this was helpful – let me know and share with others.  We need more and deeper friendships as a whole in America.  Maybe this isn't a problem for you.  If that is the case, I hope this helped you understand someone who does and maybe you will be will to reciprocate when someone else reaches out to you.  We need each other - don't forget it! Happy Wednesday!


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

7 Ways To Train Up Prayer Warrior Kids - Part 2

Last week, I started the discussion of prayer and our kids. If you missed it, please check that one out first for the top 3 of my list!  I asked for feedback and I can't wait to hear how it went!  Let me know - trust me, I am listening (well reading, but you get the point). 

Here is the rest of the list:

4. Home Anointing - My home isn’t just the place I come to every night, its the place where I want to serve people and offer solace.  My home is part of my ministry.  I believe praying over every room and anointing the doors of every room gives my home to God and reminds me of the purposes of my life on earth.  Heck, when I get a new car, one of the first things I do, is anoint it. 

I am not here just to build a fortune and die, but instead to share the love of Jesus with the world.  Teaching my kids to anoint our home, can help them see the bigger picture spiritually. 
5. Praying For Each Other - My kids see me pray.  I pray for them and on the flip side of that I invite them to pray for me.  I want them to know that I need their prayers as much as they need mine.  It adds to the "us" of family, which I think is important.  Team dynamics will be a key for them well beyond the 18 years they spend in our home.  
6. Spirit Led Prayers - We aren’t practiced in the art of being quiet and still.  We live in an ever moving society, yet being in tune with God, with ourselves and with each other requires breaks from the noise. 
Being able to hear the Spirit of God quietly speak to your heart allows you to pray for things that you have no knowledge of and connect again with the body of Christ. 
Another aspect of this is praying for people as they come to mind.  This is another great place to utilize "prayer knots" - give your kids a string to take on their day and find out who came to mind.  We never know what people face but God does, so allowing Him to lead in this discipline is an amazing gift!  
7. Be a Prayer Gifter - Sometimes the best gift you can offer someone is prayer.  It lets them know you care and takes the time to engage in the deep places in their lives. 
I don’t like to settle for superficial in my relationships and the best way to care for the heart of someone is to pray.  I want to teach my kids to ask first, but I can’t tell you how many times, as someone has poured out their life to me the impact that was made just by asking, “Can I pray for you?" Give the gift that doesn't make the list, but is always needed and appreciated!
So what did you think? 
Which of these is your favorite? 
Do you have things to add?
I would love to hear from you. 

Comment below or find me on one of my social media pages.  This only works if we do it.  Don't have kids? Don't worry, invest in your own prayer life and see who God has plopped in your path that you could teach these things too.  So many of my kids are the teens and children that I have around me in life.  They don't have to call me mom, to produce a positive impact!  Go out there and be a part of the solution!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

7 Ways To Train Up Prayer Warrior Kids- Part 1

This isn’t my first post about who I want my kids to be when they reach adulthood.  Their faith, character and integrity are definitely integral parts of what I am aiming at in my parenting strategies.  I definitely get a lot wrong because parenting is such a challenge and I am learning as I go, but seeing the end in mind in the middle of the moment is definitely key at making the parenting years count. 

One of the best tools my mom gave me as a young girl was the gift of prayer.  Prayer helps me lean into God when I don’t have enough on my own.  Prayer gets a bad wrap these days because so many say the word without actually doing the job of praying, but true prayer is powerful and life changing!

If you are like me, you want your kids to be people of prayer. 

I have come up with seven ways you can help kids become people of prayer.  My list was long so you will get it half today and half(ish) next week. 

Here are the first three:

1. Prayer Walks - Walks aren’t just for exercise, engaging your mind in knowing your surroundings and engaging your spirit to connect with God in the places you walk is making the most of that experience.  Last week I took my youth group on a prayer walk of our downtown.  Each stop represented areas we wanted to pray for in our city.  The teens responded really well. 

We also used "prayer knots" which gave them something to do on the walk.  As God brought things to mind, I asked the teens to pray and make a knot for that prayer.  We discussed what their knots were afterwards.  

Prayer walks can be connecting locations with topics of prayer or praying for each of your neighbors as you walk past their house.  Teaching your kids to be intentional in this discipline is an amazing skill.  
2. Environmental Prayers - I can recall two years ago, my son and I were in the car headed to preschool.  He called out to me that we needed to pray.  I asked why and he told me he saw a flyer for a missing cat and that cat and family needed us to pray. 
It completely blessed me to hear him note that and bring it to my attention.  I had never told him to pray for missing animals.  I had taught him to stop and pray whenever we heard or saw an emergency vehicle. 
Being aware of your surroundings is a good skill for safety but it is also a spiritual tool too.  Now when my kids see a homeless person we can offer them a grace bag of nonperishable food but also take a moment to pray.  When we hear a siren or pull over to let one pass, we pray. Thanks to Caleb, when we see lost pets, we pray.  There are so many other reminders of prayer all around us, we just have to pay attention.  What other ideas can you add to my list? 
3.Insomnia Intercession - I don’t struggle with insomnia, but when I do wake in the middle of the night, its my signal to pray.  You never know what people are going through around the world, or if someone is calling out to God and you are the one he woke to intercede (purposed intentional prayer) for them, you are blessed!  We are after all, the body of Christ - all equals and all interconnected.  Sure you can count sheep, or even count blessings like Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney in "White Christmas," but I prefer to pray.  Teaching my kids to do the same is a legacy I want to leave for the future.  

Do me a favor - try these out this week.  Comment below on how they worked and come back next week for the rest of the list. 

Training our kids to be spiritual powerhouses is the best gift we can give them.  Prayer works so well because its not just asking for the request asked in Sunday School, but it engages in spiritual things that we may have no knowledge about.  That right there is amazing!!!