I won’t lie, some days, I just don’t feel like reading the Bible.
Occasionally, I’ll use the excuse that I shouldn’t read it when apathetic. But I’ve realized that’s pretty pathetic–as most excuses are. That’s like saying I’m only going to read the New Testament because it’s more “relevant” or “understandable.” If I based my habits around this then I’d pick and choose passages and never allow myself be challenged by God’s Word.
My problem is that before I even open up to a book I expect words to just come flying off at the page at me.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with these sentiments.
In an earlier post, I mentioned how I am fasting from Facebook for Lent. What I’ve discovered is that it’s much easier to fast from something than to fast and make an intentional effort to grow spiritually during that time.
That being said, I’ve decided to try something new that will hopefully help re-ignite my passion for God’s word. I’m going to write out the book of Ephesians.
I’m not sure what I’ll learn, or if I’ll learn anything at all from studying the scripture in this way.
But Paul is cool and I like writing letters so there’s that too.
I was kinda sorta inspired by Lucas Chadwick who, in 2012 set out on a journey to write out the entire Bible. It’s a crazy cool project and you should definitely check out his Facebook page.
I’d love to hear any stories about how you grew closer to God through his word. Join me on this challenge?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with persona poems–as I was a couple of weeks ago– a persona poem is an attempt to tell a story or paint a landscape through the eyes of another person. The poet must lay aside their own biases and even voice in order to effectively do justice to the person they are attempting to essentially be. I chose to write about Mother Teresa to write about because I’ve always admired her ability to see the power in ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things. We can learn a lot from her story.
Mother Teresa 1946
The streets of Calcutta perturb me.
Ditches, slums, and waste.
The busyness and disquiet
muffle the sounds of the poor and sick.
I see big dark eyes searching for light in dark alleyways.
The hungry cries of malnourished little ones pierce the air.
The noise reaches deaf ears.
Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely
and the unwanted.
They too, deserve our love.
I received a call from God.
Now I live with the poor, as a ghost, blending perfectly in. Alongside them,
I was trying to remind myself of what love is exactly. Because let’s face it. As Christians, we should see love differently than the way the world sees it. Naturally, out of habit, I turned to 1st Corinthians 13.
I started thinking (surprise!)
Jesus is love. If Jesus is love, we can learn how to love by looking at Jesus’s life–as well as his followers.
Love is not sex. Love is not an emotion. Love is not having a boyfriend. Love is not being married. Love is joy in Christ.
Love is unconditional. Love loves when we aren’t feeling loved.
Meet Kay. Kay turned 86 in May. For over twenty years, Kay has been serving the homeless men and women of Downtown Seattle. Mission: serve the soul, not just the stomach.
Kay’s ministry is titled The Lord’s Table. The location is at 6th and Columbia, directly underneath the freeway. On the second Thursday of every month, my church: Northshore Baptist Church in Kirkland serves with Kay. Our branch of the ministry is called Isaiah 58. Sixth and Columbia is home to many big hearts of the people who flock from the Union Gospel Mission, Pioneer Square, and all (literal) corners of Seattle for a warm meal of hearty Spanish rice.
In sixth grade, my friend and I were both looking for a ministry to become involved in. We stumbled upon Isaiah 58 after asking our youth pastor’s where we could serve locally. We’ve missed a few months here and there, but we both agree that it seems just yesterday, Kay was 80. I suppose it’s because her stamina and passion hasn’t wavered from year to year.
Kay thrives off of this verse:
Isaiah 58: 6-7
Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
A cup of coffee is capable of going a long way. Or tea. Or water. Or Kool Aid. Jesus constantly reminds us that the issue isn’t a matter of liquids. It’s a matter of the heart. The Lord of the universe can dwell in your heart if you allow Him to. He is the only free gift on earth that you don’t need to work towards. There is no checklist to acceptance.
Seattle wants Jesus. They crave Him. They flock to 6th and Columbia because Jesus is evident in Kay. She treats them like her equal. She doesn’t turn anyone away. She knows many patrons by name. More importantly, she bleeds the gospel.
Over the years I’ve encountered many fun characters. Seattle is a colorful place. I remember the man who could pop both eyes out of his sockets, the woman who asked me if I could give her pet mouse, Phoebe, a chocolate cookie. The regular who walked through our line and always asked for “Bill’s Famous Tea.” I remember gazing up through a space in the freeway where the two lanes came apart and feeling as if I were in the movie The Dark Night. I remember when in junior high, Brianna and I collected donations from the youth group to buy Christmas gifts. I remember the British security guard with an Australian accent. Did I mention he dressed in a way that made him look as if he were the captain of a fine vessel? We’ve seen some interesting characters walk through those food lines.
I tease Brianna endlessly for passing out too many desserts. To say Kay is frugal would be an understatement. “Just ONE cookie Brianna” and “Oh those will last until Monday,” is common phraseology around her. Her influence (among others) has made me think twice about waste. I’ve poured perfectly filtered drinking water down the drain with my only pretense being that it had been sitting out too long. Thrown away food because I’m too full. Ditched socks because of one hole in one toe. Once monthly, for almost seven years I’ve served with Brianna. Last month I served with her ONE. LAST. TIME. (Indefinitely).
New volunteers have made their appearances! Over the years as the youth has been a part of this great opportunity and we’ve begun spreading the word through social media, a large variety of people show up each month. It’s always exciting to see volunteers come and go. But to see those who stay? Ahhhh, now that is quite a joy to see.
While Kay may never be replaced, the organization is looking for a new leader to take over all responsibility. The vocation has become an immense responsibility for just one person. We trust in God’s provision. Always.
Alex and I went on our first trip to Haiti together last summer in 2012. Deep down somehow I knew that first trip wouldn’t be her last. Your time, talent, and treasures will send give Alex and her multiple teams they need to make this world a better place, and what’s more, shine Jesus’s light in one of the world’s darkest places.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. by faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
A few years ago I was having a conversation with a friend when she asked me, “What kind of person do you want to be when you’re older?” and I surprised myself by answering with, “I just want to be someone in love with Jesus.” It’s a simple concept really, for me to be someone in love with the man who bled and died for me specifically, the man who in constantly seeking to spend time with me and loves me no matter how many times I fail Him. The tough part is trusting, trusting that He knows His plans for me and that I need not worry what tomorrow holds or where I will be in 10 years (or one to be completely honest here). We as a fallen people try so hard to hold on tightly to the control and direction of our lives…
I’ve written a lot. I adore writing. I’ve written about practically anything and everything. However, I dislike I talking about myself. It is the one topic I avoid at all costs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve filled journal on top of journal filled with life. But wait, sharing this knowledge? That’s a totally different story. God has been convicting me of something lately (as He always is); God turns our messy lives into messages. I can make Him famous by sharing my story. We all have stories. They started the day we took our very first breath. Our lives are a book written by God. Each day is a page. Every decade a chapter. We were created to be read. We were written to put God on the Bestseller list!
God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive–a living soul!
Genesis 2: 7
If that’s not crazy, astonishing and thrilling, I don’t know what is.
Apparently, I am really good at putting on a poker face. I don’t try to look like I have it all together. In fact, oftentimes I feel like screaming “I’m not strong, but He is! Every waking minute Jesus is holding me!” It is because of His strength that I am capable of being strong in my weaknesses.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the LIFE of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4: 7-10
Before I begin sharing my story, I want to exhort you to share yours. Your story may not sound exciting to you, but you never know whose life you can touch without sharing it! If it means anything, your story matters to me. If God, the one who created us to be full of purpose, shouldn’t we have faith that He is using it for something epic?
I’m going to share with you mine . I would start with day one, but I’m 6,791 days old.
Eleven years ago, at the age of seven. I had my first epileptic seizure. I conked out on the floor of the Olive Garden Restaurant on 196th St. in Lynnwood, WA. Here’s the catch: I was perfectly healthy, and nobody knew it was a seizure. We didn’t even call an ambulance. I took a sip of water and finished eating dinner with my family. I felt fine after gracefully smashing my head on their then-brick floor. (OK, I make that sound much more exciting than it actually was). Nothing showed up on my post-fall MRI. Not even a minor concussion! Clearly, angels do exist.
My mom scheduled an emergency appointment of course. She figured the whole thing was just a fluke. It wasn’t. You may be thinking “wow, that is unfortunate.” Well, you are wrong. That day changed my life forever. OK, now you’re thinking “well duh.” It was a good life changing experience. I’m still not sure exactly how it has changed my life for the better, but everything takes some figuring out. Can I get an amen?
In the beginning I saw three different doctors. These three doctors proposed three different diagnoses:
– Most likely Vasodepressor Syncope
-Colloid on 3rd ventricle
-Small chance the episode was a seizure
I went through so many tests it’s CRAZY. EEG’s, MRI’s, blood tests, the tilt-table test, cat scans. The whole bit. I even wore a heart monitor for about one month. God was there. Holding my hand. He was upside down with me when I was strapped on that table.
My mom, being the awesome woman that as she is, finally pull out her handy dandy Taber’s Medical Dictionary from the bookshelf, performed her own research and she basically said, “Let’s take the focus off the heart and look at what is going on in her brain.”
Since my diagnosis of absence seizures has been confirmed, life has been a whirlwind. I’ve been tossed hither and thither. Since that time I’ve tried two alternative treatments to medication: 1) The Modified Atkins Diet and 2) a Vegas Nerve Stimulator. Concerning the MAD, let me just say this. After six months of eating fifteen and 10 carbohydrates per day, I obtained a whole new appreciation for bread and an extreme dislike for milk and peanuts which I practically thrived off of.
The Vegas Nerve Stimulator brings me to where I am today! Contrary to popular belief, the Vegas Nerve Stimulator is NOT brain surgery. Think of it more as a pacemaker for the brain. Well, I remember the day of my implant. I was supposed to have a history exam that day and all I could remember was that April 9th. The date of my surgery was ironically a date in history I needed to memorize. What a strange coincidence! Fast forward to today, 9/13/ 2013. Today I am recovering from the surgery I underwent yesterday to have the device removed. Why, you ask? I was given two choices: 1) replace the battery or 2) remove the battery. As of today I am fifty-one days seizure free! It’s these little victories we must embrace.
A few days ago I received my OUTPATIENT NOTE in the mail. One sentence written by my physician stuck out to me: “She has been approximately 40 days seizure free. It is not clear to us the reason for the increased efficacy…” To doctors, these instances are just medical mysteries. I read this and thought to myself, Clearly, Jesus is at work in my life right now. I realize that while he is always at work in my life, I tend to only recognize this truth when I am having either a really bad day or an extraordinarily good day. Something about that needs to change. Whether or not I’m having a particular high or low day, I need to start off each day saying these words:
This is the day which the Lord has made;Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118: 24 (NASB)
God is consistent. That being said, I shouldn’t “shelve” God. I ALWAYS need Him. I should never take Him down when I think I need Him and marginalize Him when I am under the impression that I can do things myself. So how is your storybook going to look? On the cover of my current journal, I wrote “The story of how Jesus wrecked my life and put me back together again.” He knows exactly what is wrong in our lives and puts us back together the way he sees fit! So why do we worry? We’re still human. God recognizes that. We are extremely blessed because He looks at us the way He looks at His Son. Incredible!
Your story matters. How will you use it to change the world?
God turns our messy lives into messages. We all have a story. Our story began on the day we took our very first breath. Our lives are a book written by God. Each day is a page. Every decade a chapter. We were created to be read. We were written to put God on the Bestseller list!
Child of the One True King, saved by His incredible grace