A Vessel in His hands to serve

As I left one appointment to go to next, I get a text that told me it was canceled.  Asking the Lord what do you have for me with this time, he brings a Christian business owner to mind that worked in that area.  I had been thinking of him off and on over the last few weeks, so I decided to stop in and visit him.  He had a half hour window to meet, so we went for lunch.  As we talked, he confided in me that for the last few months he has been struggling with both his walk with Jesus, and the ministry he has been involved in.  We talked for a while and as we were about to finish our time, he says,

“Chris, yesterday I was praying about whether to go to a counselor…today you show up and minister right into that needy area if my life.  How AMAZING!!!”

We are going to be meeting weekly for lunch to reestablish His walk with Jesus.

 

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Spokane Evangelistic Campaign

On a recent mission trip, Chris observed how incredibly effective a simple Gospel presentation can be. Out of the forty-two people he was able to share the Gospel with, forty-one opened their hearts to Jesus.

Recognizing the power of such a simple strategy, he began praying about how he could implement something similar once he got home. And that is how the Spokane Evangelistic Campaign was born.

Set to launch with our first event on July 15, the Spokane Evangelistic Campaign will be an ongoing initiative, hosted in people’s home. The host or hostess begins by praying for a specific list of potential guests, at least forty days before the event begins. Then, invitations go out to eight to ten people. During the time between when the invitations go out and the event, hosts pray every single day, for each person on their list, by name.

The event is short – less than an hour – and features a friend (in this case, Chris) sharing his personal story of redemption, along with a very clear Gospel presentation and invitation. Then, the host follow ups with each person who wants more information or indicates a decision for Christ.

That’s it. Pretty simple, aye?

We’re very excited about the potential, not only for getting the word out about the hope available through a relationship with Jesus Christ, but also the impact on how people think about evangelism and discipleship. Be checking back for stories and updates. And please pray for our inaugural event on July 15!!

Broken

My life has always been pretty comfortable. The daughter of amazing (though imperfect) parents, I have never experienced the shady side of life. I have never been drunk, or stoned, or even (knowingly) smelled marijuana. My children have missed out on much taken for granted by the average American teenager (no cell phones, no xbox, few movies, etc), but they have a safe home and are surrounded by people who love them.

Watching a movie recently, I caught a much clearer view of that shady side of life. It was gritty…painful. It is one thing to know people are suffering. It is another issue altogether to see it. My heart ached as image after image flashed across the screen, repeatedly portraying the brokenness of our world.

Broken people do broken things. And broken lives are filled with pain. Which drives people to broken, desperate choices. It is easy to condemn people for their broken choices, but stepping into their world, where the desperation is tangible, changes your perspective.

Jesus stepped into our world. He didn’t need to change His perspective; He understood better than we ever will the nature and extent of our brokenness. Truly the only One able to bring condemnation against anyone – He was without sin – He never did.

We do; we point out other peoples’ failures and brokenness, so that we don’t feel quite so badly about our own. Unfortunately, such short-term solutions are shallow and empty. They don’ t work very long or very well. Then we need another “fix” to prove that we’re worthwhile. Some of us are more gracious about it, but we all do it, to some extent.

In Romans 3:20, Paul wrote that “by the works of the flesh will no one be justified. No one. And the works of the flesh can be anything…absolutely anything; church attendance, clothing, hair style, education choices, even the size of your family – all of them can be considered a “work of the flesh” if done simply to gain approval or justification.

Broken people do broken things. It is a fact. And our brokenness drives us to broken choices. Some of our broken choices are more socially acceptable (like getting divorced and remarried – not saying either is wrong, simply that our culture approves of those choices) and some are not (like becoming a prostitute or a drug addict – socially less acceptable ways to cope with pain than shopping too much or gambling). Regardless of the choice, or the consequence, though, we all do broken things. And thanks be to God that in spite of our broken choices, in spite of the consequences we deserve, He hasn’t left alone to deal with them.

Someone told me recently that the fairytale is over; we don’t live happily ever after. But life doesn’t have to be. And Jesus came to give us abundant life. Pretty cool thought, aye?

For more information on how knowing Jesus makes a difference in broken lives, or how you can experience the abundant life Jesus promised, visit cru.org, or uniongospelmission.org.

Beauty out of Ashes

When I was first exposed to the Faith Process, it was life changing. Finally, I had a framework for applying Scripture to the broken pieces of my life. I loved it; the basic principles I’d been living by were all neatly laid out on a page. It was the greatest thing since sliced bread!!

Of course, that was in theory. Actually walking through the steps of the Faith Process, in the midst of heartache and grief, was an entirely different experience altogether. Life is so much easier to live when filtered through the lens of other people’s experiences.

When, on the other hand, you are forced to apply such lessons, it is much more difficult than it seems. Such was the case when I was first introduced to the Faith Process; days later, I found out the baby I was carrying was dead. Suddenly choosing to live as though God’s Word was true, regardless of circumstances, emotions, or cultural trends became much more than an academic exercise. And it was so much more difficult than I anticipated it would be.

Now, almost ten years later, I’ve had much more practice choosing to live as though God’s Word is true. It has, in many situations, become almost second nature; not easy, necessarily, but a path well worn, you might say. Which is incredibly helpful as I type this.

Today is probably one of the most painful of my entire life. I’ve experienced the death, not of a person, but of a relationship. Someone I’ve been very close to tore down the facade that characterized our relationship, revealing the shriveled, empty shell of what once was beautiful and vibrant.

Because I know that God’s Word is true, regardless of my emotions, I know that God has not (nor will He) reject me. I know that He puts the lonely in families, and He binds up the brokenhearted. He brings beauty out of ashes, and redeems the years the locusts have eaten. I know these things are true. But they don’t feel true. The culture doesn’t prove they are true. And my circumstances demonstrate them untrue. But I know God’s Word is true.

So, I am making a choice. I am choosing to forgive this one who has rejected me, though I don’t know what that will look like in “real life.” And I’m choosing to reject the lies that I’m to blame for the situation (though I definitely share the fault), that the person who has rejected me is my enemy (we battle not against flesh and blood – people are not the enemy), or that I should respond in kind (vengeance is God’s, not mine). And I’m choosing to ask myself the question; if I’m going to live as though God’s Word is true, how am I going to live? If I’m going to live as though it’s true that God puts the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6), how am I going to live? If God promises to bring beauty out of ashes (Is 61:3), how am I going to live? If God promises never to leave me or forsake me (Heb 13:5), how am I going to live? If God asks me to praise Him in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18), how am I going to live?

God does put lonely in families – He’s given me a big one. And He will bring beauty out of these ashes – I’ve seen Him do it…so I’ll trust Him with these ashes. And I will bring a sacrifice of praise…life doesn’t feel good; tears have coursed down my cheeks at different times this evening. But God is still good. His character is not affected by my circumstances. I can, and will, praise Him, because He is worthy of praise, even if what I’m feeling is not. And I will walk through tomorrow with confidence – I do not have to be defined by this rejection. If the Creator of the Universe doesn’t turn His back on me, regardless of what I do (or don’t do), then it doesn’t matter if someone else does – it hurts, I’m grieving, I don’t like it. But I don’t have to be defined by it.

The Japanese have an art called “kinsugi“. It is the repair of broken pottery using gold, or using gold dust. It is beautiful, because of the brokenness. Some lovers of the art have been known to break pottery intentionally, for the sole purpose of having it repaired.

God doesn’t make beautiful things only to break them and make them more beautiful. We do a good job of breaking things all by ourselves. But, He does bring beauty out of ashes, and He heals broken things. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says that we have the treasure of Jesus in earthen vessels, so that we can glorify God and not ourselves. God uses clay pots…even cracked pots, so that His glory can shine through. If I’m going to live as though that is true, I may just praise God for this storm, even in the midst of it.