Fulfill Your Ministry

One of my favorite Matt Chandler clips is the one where he talks about Mark Driscoll.

Chances are, most people nowadays don’t know who Mark Driscoll was. If you do, that’s awesome. But if you don’t, he used to be the pastor of Mars Hill Church. He was also the founder of the Acts 29 Network (which Matt Chandler now leads, ironically.)

Any who, if you do know Driscoll, you also know he had a pretty aggressive way of preaching (which I won’t get into now because it’s besides the point).

Well, in this clip, Matt Chandler is coaching pastors and, in essence, he tells pastors that, though Mark Driscoll is very good at what He does and God uses it, we are not all called to be Driscoll.

We can not emulate him and expect the same results because God didn’t call us to be Driscoll.

God calls us to be ourselves. 

We aren’t called to fulfill Driscoll’s ministry. We’re call to fulfill OUR ministry.

God has shaped you specifically for a specific purpose. Though it may be tempting to look at “success stories” and want to emulate them, the truth of the matter is that what worked for Matt Chandler, Beth Moore, John Piper, etc, may not work for you.

You’re not called to fulfill their ministry.

You’re called to fulfill YOUR ministry.

Your ministry may be at home, with macaroni and cheese covered fingers. And yes, do I know it gets tiring changing diapers and trying to constantly entertain children, but it may be where God is calling you for this season. 

Your ministry may be at that job you don’t like, surrounded by those people who always gossip about their sins around the water cooler. Sure, you can’t wait to get out, but maybe, you’re called to be the light in a dark place. You’re called to point one of God’s future saints to the light. 

Your ministry may be in a not-so-great marriage. We’re not meant to divorce one another at the first offense. Maybe God called you to a marriage that starts a little hard, but as time passes, you grow from the trials and your love becomes an example of God’s power and healing.

(And don’t read what I am NOT saying. I’m saying that, for some, the trials serve to strengthen a marriage. I am not saying not to divorce an abusive spouse. Just throwing that disclaimer out there).

Simply put, we are all called to different ministries.

Fulfill YOUR ministry.

Why You Should Sponsor A Child

By the time your done reading this blog, at least 150 children around the world will have died due to poverty.

(According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day because they lack the means to afford proper care).

Their deaths are preventable.

Organizations like the one I work for (Expect Hope) make it their mission to rescue children from poverty and provide them with food, clothing, shelter, access to healthcare, and most importantly, love.

But WHY does your sponsorship matter?

Well, for one, not every country is the United States. Many countries do not have the means to help orphaned children, so many of them end up on the streets, naked and begging for food.

Many of those same children are targeted by terrorist groups like ISIS or Abu Sayyaf who promise them the same things Expect Hope does, but asks them to pay a hefty price; psychological abuse and, at times, sacrificing themselves for the terrorist groups cause.

There is no Child Protective Services to call in many third world countries. There is no Medicaid, no Free or Reduced Lunch, and sometimes, there isn’t even an option for free “public school”.

There are children right at this moment, walking along the streets naked and barefoot, with tummies rumbling, lacking ONE thing above all else; HOPE.

You could bring HOPE to a child today. You can change a life forever.

Some may say “well, $35 a month is a big ask”, but is it really?

My HULU subscription costs more than that.

Taking my family of four to Chipotle just once a month costs more than that.

Buying three new shirts at Ross costs more than that.

The truth is $35 equals to about $1.17 a day. We spend more than that on Starbucks, McDonalds, or whatever brand’s coffee you enjoy.

Think about that. Skipping Starbucks for 8-9 days a month will literally rescue an orphan from property and give them HOPE.

You can literally be someone’s hero for just $35 a month.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a child, visit Expect Hope today and sign up to sponsor. Still have questions? Comment below and I’ll do my best to get them.

Somethings you just don’t have to pray for.

Jesus said when you care for the least of these, you cared for Him.

Will you?

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Julie, I expected a lot to be different. I understood that a baby meant a lot of changes. I knew we (my husband and I) would have a lot less space in the house as her swings, playmate, crib, etc moved in, that we would have this tiny new human that relies solely on us for everything, and that I was responsible for teaching her about Jesus and what it meant to be a child of God.

I knew everything was about to change, but to be honest, one truth didn’t quite hit me until my second daughter, Janeen, was about half a year old. No one really told me this one thing; When you become a mother, there are things you will have to give up in order to raise your kids the way God intends.

It sounds like common sense, but hear me out.

For my entire life, even pre-Jesus, I was a writer. I was even voted “Most Likely to Become an Author” in high school. Everyone knew me as a writer. It was my identity. I also love speaking and teaching. After I became a Christian, I made numerous blogs about Christian Living. I had time to serve at church in multiple ministries, be part of small groups that hung out until 1AM, and even had time to go out with friends and spread the Gospel to Miami.

Fast forward to my family living in Phoenix with one more daughter added to the mix nd things are so different. We have a great church that we love, but I don’t have the time I used to. I can’t serve in multiple ministries. Who will watch my kids while I do so? I can’t hang out at a small group until 1 AM. My kids get cranky after 9PM or so. I can’t just go out late at night and evangelize in downtown Phoenix. The kids can’t tag along (they get cranky at 9PM, remember?) and my husband is busy enough (having a full-time job and doing music).

When I decided to rebrand my blog as “The Glass House Gospel”, I told myself that I would get more serious about my blog, which meant posting every other day and promoting on social media. I had even started making graphics on Instagram and posting them every morning to promote my blog.

But I had to stop myself. Sure, I was being successful at blogging…but what was paying the cost of all my attention going towards my blog?

It was my kids.

God really had to do a work in my heart. I adore my kids, but it was hard letting go of working on my dream to “be a famous writer” in exchange for focusing on teaching my kids while they are little. There will be a time when they are in school when I can focus more attention on things like writing a book or making blog posts. But for today, in this season, the time is simply not there. And even though I believe the ability to write came from God to glorify Him, this isn’t the season for me to really focus on that. The truth is, in this season where my kids are little and my husband is really busy, there just isn’t time to do everything. Something will have to give.

No one really sat me down and explained this to me.

Mothers (and soon-to-be mothers), can we just be honest? Motherhood is hard. It really challenges you. As your kid grows and enters different stages of development, the challenges also get harder. There may be things you truly enjoy that may have to take a backseat for a while. Just keep in mind that it is just a season. Our little ones are only so little for so long. Enjoy them while you can, praise God for them, and raise them to know and love Christ as best as you can, praying for His grace and mercy along the way. The time may come when you can pick up that ministry that you love doing again, but for today, your most important disciples are pulling on your leg and asking for another cookie.

 

The Terrible Lie

This past week, I bought my daughter the Jesus Storybook Bible (which I highly recommend, by the way). We’ve been reading a couple of stories each day and one particular line really stood out to me.

In the story of Adam & Eve (named “The Terrible Lie” in her Bible), after Eve encounters the serpent and takes a bite of the fruit, it says:

“And a terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children: ‘God doesn’t love me’.” 

God. Doesn’t. Love. Me.

I can’t tell you how many times I believed this lie in my heart, both before I came to really know Christ and after. Sometimes, my jealous heart sees people experience certain things that I never did (and probably never will) and that small, cruel voice whispers once again “See? God just doesn’t love you like He loves ______“.

But it’s a lie. A terrible lie.

Adam & Eve, people who had direct contact with God, sinned against Him and hid from Him in fear. Even after this, God loved them enough to make garments for them so that they would no longer be naked. They sowed together fig leaves to make clothes that probably barely covered them and God lovingly made them better clothes, even after they sinned against Him.

It says in Genesis 3:21 that God made “garments of skins” to clothe them. If you think about it, God had to take an animal, a sacrifice, to be able to clothe Adam and Eve. Something had to die, because God loved them so much, He didn’t want them to be naked. God would, once again, send a sacrifice to cover His chosen ones, but this time, the sacrifice would be His son and He would lay down his life to cover (and pay for) their sins once and for all.

God did this because He loved you that much.

I hate saying the phrase “everything happens for a reason”. It’s really cliché and, when someone is suffering, it’s not something they want to hear. Nobody wants to hear “everything happens for a reason” when a loved on has passed away or when they are going through a tough trial, but the truth is the Bible preaches a similar truth (though the differences are noteworthy).

It’s actually my favorite verse.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

This is not true for those who don’t love God. But for those who do, for those who are called by Him, all things work together for good. It is so very hard to see that sometimes, especially when we go through the toughest of trials, but this rich Biblical truth is there for the taking.

It is God Himself saying “Don’t believe the terrible lie. I love you.”

But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, freely give us all things?” – Romans 8:32

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Don’t listen to that voice. God loves you.

Don’t believe the terrible lie.

Three People Who Have Influenced My Faith

For those who may not know my testimony, I grew up with a lot of religion and little to no Jesus. Because of this, my life before conversion was a pendulum, sometimes swinging towards religion (trying my best to be good enough for God), other times swinging away (when that didn’t work, because it never does, I disowned Christianity and lived like God wasn’t real).

After conversion, God brought three prominent people into my life. While I don’t know any of these people personally, they have all had a great impact on my walk with God, so I would love to share them with you.

      1. Lecrae:
        lecrae_h_2016
        I was introduced to Lecrae’s music through a Christian friend of mine (who actually ended up playing a role in my salvation). Though I wasn’t saved when I was first introduced to him, “Rebel” ended up being one of the first albums I got after my conversion. Hungry to learn anything I could about God, I listened to Lecrae’s music, taking in everything he was saying and searching the Bible for confirmation. When I first learned about reformed theology, I was hesitant to accept it as truth UNTIL I noticed Lecrae rapped about the very doctrines I was questioning. He is part of the reason I was open to learning about reformed theology. Which leads me to my second person…
      2. Matt Chandler:
        matt-chandler
        While I’ve listened to many different teachers for a while that I love (like John Piper, Francis Chan, David Platt, etc), God has always used Matt Chandler (and by association, The Village Church) greatly in my life. Remember my struggle with reformed doctrine? The main reason I gave it a shot was because of Matt Chandler. Doctrine aside, his authenticity and commitment to truth made him my favorite pastor (if one can have such a thing) a while ago. For those looking for truly gospel-centered sermons, I would recommend listening to him and those at The Village Church.
      3. Jackie Hill-Perry:
        jennerjackie4
        Finally, there is Jackie. Before learning about her, I had millions of questions about what it means to be a gospel-centered woman. At my church, most women fit into the stereotype of the “Christian woman”. While that isn’t bad at all, it was a stereotype I didn’t fit into, so I always felt a bit out-of-place. I didn’t like chocolate, didn’t want to drink tea and “brunch”, and certainly didn’t want to sit and do my nails when I could be reading a book and learning about theology. Then I found out about Jackie. Here was a woman, bold in who God made her, preaching truth without violating God’s law about women teaching. Because of Jackie, I learned it was okay to be who God made me; a smart woman who loves to learn and loves to teach. She proved to me that femininity doesn’t necessarily mean “dresses and heels” and she cemented the idea that “authenticity is key”.

Those are my three. What about you? What three brothers and sisters in the faith have influenced you the most? Let me know in the comments.

Grace & Peace.

 

5 Ways To Reach Out To Your Neighbors

Don’t you remember when you were younger and you played with the neighbors kids?

Growing up, I used to the know all of the kids within a “three house radius”. We would all get together on the half cul-de-sac that we lived on and ride our bikes and scooters together. I don’t live there anymore, so I don’t remember their names, but to be honest, I don’t know any of the neighbors I live next to now.

Neighbors are actually a great opportunity to show others what it means to follow Christ, but sometimes, I can be a bit awkward reaching out. Here are five ideas to reach out to your neighbors sometime within the next month.

  1. Are one of your neighbors expecting? Having a baby is hard (especially for a first time mom). Your neighbor may or may not have family nearby to help them. If you don’t know them too well, offering to babysit might sound a bit weird (I wouldn’t leave my kids with just anybody who offered), but there are other ways to love on new parents. The obvious would be purchasing a gift for them (gender neutral baby clothes, diapers, wipes, a baby toy, etc). I would recommend a gift basket with a little bit of everything if you want to go that route. If you’re strapped for cash, a great idea would be cooking a meal for them to put in their freezer.
  2. Is there an upcoming holiday? Christmas might be the most obvious of “gift giving” holidays, but you can make neighbor gifts for pretty much any holiday. Churches tend to have special services and events for holidays too, so you can also include an invite card from your church in the gift.
  3. Are they in need of some yard work? This wouldn’t apply so much if you live in an apartment complex, but look out to see if your neighbors need work down around the house. Have they waited a while to cut the grass? Offer to cut it yourself or have a landscaping person cut it for them (with their permission, of course). Do they need a power wash? Offer to pay for one. Do they have a broken light outside in a high place? Offer to replace it for them. Is Christmas coming up? Offer to put up their lights for them. Any act of service, no matter how small, matters.
  4. Do they have young children? I said earlier that I wouldn’t leave my kids with just anybody, but there are other ways to serve parents of young children. You could try to organize a play date, either at your house or at a park of some sort. If it’s just you and another person, why not invite them into your home and serve them lunch? If your house isn’t child-proof, another idea would be to invite them to a local play place (something like Chuck E. Cheese or an inflatable playground like Jumparoos) and treat them and their kids to lunch (and coffee for the parents). Another idea would be purchasing a gift card from a toy store/kids clothing store and leaving it in their mailbox with a “Thinking of You” card.
  5. If all else fails, a random act of kindness won’t. The truth is, you don’t need an occasion to be kind. These are all great ideas, but if you randomly want to serve them in some way, there are plenty of ideas for that. Everyone can appreciate a Starbucks gift card (or even a Visa gift card). If  you see their trash is at their door (and there is a community trash can  that is far from their house), you can offer to take their trash along with yours to the trash can. You can gift them with a “movie night” gift basket with popcorn, sodas, and candy from the Dollar Tree. The possibilities are endless.

At the end of the day, we love on our neighbors because that is what Christ asks of us. We don’t love with an ulterior motive in mind (i.e. “I’ll love them to convert them”). We just love.

I’ll never forget my last day in Atlanta. My husband, his father, and I were all packing our boxes into the moving van, preparing for our long drive to Phoenix. A random neighbor saw the moving van and thought we were moving in. She walked up to our door and “welcomed us” into the neighborhood. She was a Christian mom, about my age, with a daughter about the age of my eldest daughter. She also happened to be from Miami (which was the strangest thing of them all) as my husband and I are Miami born and bred. Had I known about her previous to our move, I would have loved to get to know her and had playdates for our kids.

I’m terrible at reaching out to people, so I understand it can be a bit hard, but I’m trying to be better at it in 2017. I’m asking that the Lord make me a better neighbor for my neighbors this year and always. Comment below if you’d like me to pray for you to be a better neighbor as well this year (and please add me to your prayer list!).

Grace & Peace always.

Don’t Wait Another Day

This past Sunday, my pastor delivered an incredible sermon (which you can listen to here) about the vision of the church for 2017. I’ve heard many “vision sermons” from a variety of churches, but something was different about this one: this wasn’t just the vision for the church. It was a wake up call.

Too many of us ignore the call of God and the time to stop is NOW. 

(And for the record, I give 100% credit for this idea to my church, New City Church. While I could have just copied and pasted the “sermon notes” for this message [because it was that good], I decided to rephrase it on The Glass House Gospel with my own spin on it). 

In Deuteronomy 1:1-38, we learn that Israel, after being given a plan by God to reach the land he promised them, is hesitant and disobedient. They have questions. They don’t trust God. They want more proof (reminder: same Israel that saw the Red Sea part and bread literally fall from the sky). What should have taken then 11 days time ended up taking them 40 years (14,600 days) because of all of their excuses. They proclaimed that the Lord “hated them” (again, this is the SAME group that God delivered from Pharaoh) and that He had purposely sent them there to destroy them.

God was angered by their words and punished them by not allowing (almost) any of them to enter the promised land: not even Moses.

They should have entered the promised land on Day 12. Instead, because of their disobedience, after 40 years and some days, they were punished and forbidden from entering.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a “Day 12 Christian”. I want to have my Lord say to me “well done, good and faithful servant”. I don’t want to make excuses for 40 years as to why I can’t serve God “today”.

Truthfully, I know there are areas of my life that I have been hesitant in trusting God. Like Israel, I ask for more proof or I say I’ll pray about it more (when really, I just want God to change His mind).

Is there something that comes to mind as you read this, an area in your life that you know you are being disobedient to the calling of God in? Is there something he has made clear to you, but fear stops you from ever taking a step forward?

Don’t be like Israel. Don’t disobey God because His way is uncomfortable or because you’re scared.

Follow Him today. Step into His will today. Trust in His promises.

Don’t wait another day. 

Jesus Is Enough

“Christianity isn’t for the little engine that can but the train-wreck that can’t.”

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook earlier this week and it reminded me of one simple truth: It’s about what Jesus did, not what you can and can’t do. 

I believe God allows certain things to happen in our lives for specific reasons.

Before I really met Jesus, I had started to attend a church in Miami regularly. I was serving on their greeters team (which was a new experience for me), attending Bible studies, tithing (to a certain extent), and regularly attending Sunday service. Heck, I went to multiple services every Sunday. I had even been baptized at that church.

If you asked me, God and I were on great terms.

However, it wasn’t about what I was doing, but the work that Jesus was doing in my heart.

At the end of the day, none of that mattered. I was baptized, but I ended up feeling led to be baptized again at Christ Fellowship (because I felt the first time wasn’t really genuine). I tithed and served, but it was more because I “had to”, not because I wanted to. I went to Bible study, but it was to gain head knowledge, not to know my Savior more.

None of it mattered because, truthfully, none of that saves you.

Only Jesus can save you.

This issue is a bit close to my heart because I know many people who turn to Jesus when things go wrong; I was one of those. When life was great, Jesus was an after thought. Sure, I believed He was the Son of God and He died to save me from my sins, but my life didn’t reflect that belief. However, when life started to go bad, I’d try to “get back into church” and “get back into reading the Bible”. It’s almost as if my faith was a bank account. When it went into the negative, I tried DESPERATELY to put something in the bank before I got hit with “overdraft fees” (in other words, before things got worse).

But going to church or attending Bible studies makes you no more Christian than being in a garage makes you a car.

The truth is, it’s easy to fall into that “little engine that could” mentality.

  • If I just pray longer, maybe God will answer my prayer.
  • If I just fast a little more, maybe God will guide me towards my next step.
  • If I just read a little more of His word, maybe I’ll feel better.
  • If I just tithe a bit more, maybe God will bless me more.

And our social media culture doesn’t help. We post pictures of our quiet time, thinking we’re just sharing what we learned, when in truth, we’re feeding into a desire to be noticed and validated. Or we’ll share pictures of ourselves on a mission trip or serving our community for the same reasons. None of those pictures are inherently bad, but, once again, it’s that “little engine that could” mentality.

Try HARDER to look Godly. Do MORE. When all along, Jesus just tells us BE STILL.

We’re not the little engine that could. We’re the train-wreck that can’t.

You’ll never tithe enough to bend God’s will. You’ll never pray enough to suddenly convince Him of something He wasn’t already convinced of. You don’t earn brownie points with God for serving at every single one of your church services (actually, that’s unhealthy for you, as you’re missing out on the message).

No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to simply “work hard enough” to fix your life. Our culture tells us that this is the solution. If we just work harder to make more money, spend more time making ourselves pretty, or even “have more faith”, then we’ll get everything we want out of life…but that’s simply not true.

And it’s not the point. 

Would I like a bigger house? A nicer car? A bigger savings account? Sure. But would I like all those things at the cost of forfeiting my relationship with Jesus? No. I’d take a day in Hell with Christ over a day in Heaven without Him.

See, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that nothing truly satisfies. Not money, not relationships, and not power. It all fades. It all dies. It’s why Solomon, the son of David, cries out that “everything is meaningless” in Ecclesiastes 12:8.

“The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not that, if you follow Him, everything is going to go well and everything is going to work. The good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is that you get Him and He is enough, no matter what circumstance comes.” – Matt Chandler

Jesus is ENOUGH.

“‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’ The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah” – Psalm 46:10-11 (ESV)