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Posts Tagged ‘incourageme.com’

struggle_of_the_two_natures_of_man1355813125107

Last Sunday I featured a guest post here called, Struggling To Love Her, about the difficulty to sometimes love the church (small ‘c’ church … as in the local church). I was amazed at the responses I got, in terms of readers, but also in terms of personal comments, messages, emails). It is obviously a hot topic!

My inspiration, or guest was Amber Haines, who writes at www.therunamuck.com and www.incourage.me.

Toward the end of her post she said,

Once in a while you find yourself in the arms of your broken church, and she looks exactly like THE church, and THE church looks like Jesus. It’s worth pressing on, going to commune with the homesick ones, going to find a hand to hold, a bag to carry, wine to taste.”

And it is here where I want to start … where is the struggle to love her?

I have heard it said that more than the style of worship, more than the way that scripture is delivered, more than whether the pastor wears gowns, or jean or a tie, more than the programs that a church offers, more than whether the coffee served is free trade …

the one thing that will decide whether a church will survive in the coming years is …

drum-roll-please

… is it real?

Are those welcoming people into the church service, welcoming from their hearts … or playing a part?

Is the pastor preaching from how God has moved in his life?

Are the people in the pews, in the chairs, prepared to take you home for lunch?

Are people using their God-given gifts to spread the good news of Christ’s love for them, to meet the needs of people in their community (not just those in their church community)?

Are people praying for each other, more than just Sunday during church?

According to Thom Schultz, in the book (Why Nobody Wants Church Anymore) he co-authored with his wife, Joani, the four top reasons why the majority avoids church are :

1. they feel judged … aka not perfect
2. they don’t want to be lectured … reminded they are not perfect
3. church people are a bunch of hypocrites … people who act like they are perfect
4. they feel God is irrelevant to their life, but they’d like to know there is a God and he cares about them … they know they are not perfect, and want to feel loved in spite of their imperfections

That all pretty much boils down to … they want what is

real

People, both Christ-followers, and Christ-deniers, want life to be real, want relationships that are real, want people to accept them for who they really are … want church to be real.

We are not living in the garden of Eden … perfect is left behind.

We humans, and our human lives, and our human churches are :

messy
dirty
wrecked
flaw-filled
sin-filled

And it is in being who we really are
(flawed, pimpled, grayed and scarred)

and being able to look at, and Sunday sit-with

others,
(who are just as wrecked as ourselves)

and feel, and be accepted … just as we are.

But, that is not all!

If we are being really real, we do not just love others as they are,

we love others enough to not leave them where they are …

in the mud, mire and dirt of life
in the dark, blindness and deafness of the present
in the middle of their mess, their heartache, their

sin.

We can be really real enough to stay with them, to support them, to do what is practical, and to do what is immaterial, spiritual. To do more than just keep their head afloat, but to also teach them to swim in stormy waters, when no lifeboat is in sight.

To point them to the lifeguard who is always on duty, and to remind them that we are His flotation device.

Come on church,

let’s get

real.

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father-time

Three-hundred and sixty-five days later, we face that old man again … Father Time.

What were we doing one year ago? What have we accomplished? What joys did life provide? Did we manage to lose the weight? quit smoking? exercise more?

No sense in hanging our heads, according to Forbes, only about 8% of people who make resolutions achieve them.

What if we looked at the birth of 2014 differently?

What if we ditched the long-winded, well-intended, grandiose resolutions for

one word?

In her blog post titled Gratitude is the Catalyst, Arianne Segerman tells of her own substitution for the traditional New Year’s Resolutions … picking a word to motivate, not just a diet, or change in one part of her life, but a word that would infringe on every aspect of her daily living.

May you enjoy her sharing.

I wish you a Happy New Year!

God be with you …

Carole

At the beginning of the year, I picked a word of the year for the very first time. I always wondered why people chose one word, because how did they decide? And then somewhere around the first week of January, a word hit me and it was so obvious it was from the Lord that I tucked it into my heart and have carried it in my mind ever since.

My word was Intention. It meant that this year my family would no longer just survive — we would THRIVE. And it would start with me being intentional.

As I sat down to write down some words for you guys today, I realized that one of the biggest ways I’ve learned how to be intentional is by being grateful

When I am slowing down my mind so that I can be intentional with my actions, words, heart, I do so by doing one important thing first. I look around me and find things I’m grateful for in that very moment. The sun, the birds, the cluttered house, the heart beating, the breath. Once I focus on that gratitude, I notice something happening. 

It’s as if all the things around me start to rise up. They start to fill the room. Fill my soul. And they rise higher than my stress level. And that gratitude takes form and begins to shape my thoughts and actions. Suddenly, I’m intentional.

I’ve become intentional with my husband, my children, my work, my diet, my sleep, my friendships and even my self-care. I can’t even tell you what a life-changing thing this has been for me (I highly recommend it).

I have gone years with huge life struggles, and I know what it’s like to feel as though “being intentional” is a luxury only people with an easy life get to do. I get it, I do. I “survived” for a long time with that belief system, but it held me back so much. I definitely wasn’t thriving.

Only did I start to thrive when I took a hold of the things God had laid out on a platter before me saying, “Here, my daughter, take this life, take me, and soar,” and realized I had the choice to make things different in my mind. My revelation was that my perspective really could be God’s perspective. And it wouldn’t take all that much effort on my part. In fact, it took surrender and an easy trade.

God’s perspective is that I’m worthy of a peaceful, joy-filled life. And that I deserve to head in that direction and keep going until I find it, or I find Him. He wanted to do it, to change my perspective. I need only take the platter from Him – full of His gifts – and give Him my plate – full of burdens and suffering. The easy trade.

Have you ever thought about living an intentional life? Do you use gratitude as the catalyst for change in your life?”

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There is something about words in action that not only speaks to our hearts, but yells into our souls.

When our children were young and they say, “I love you,” they say it with their entire being, and the words would usually be accompanied by a big hug.

When our children would say, “I am sorry,” we would remind them that the words are good, but to mean them is to work to not repeat whatever they are apologizing for.

When it is Mother’s Day or my mom’s birthday, saying “I love you Mom” is heart-touching for my mother, but if I really want to fill her cup I send her a card, because she loves to see that I made that small effort to give her something to hold on to (and I sadly do not give feet to that love for her often enough).

Love is strongest in action. Even in the relationship with God and humanity, love was communicated in action :

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son ….”
John 3:16

Yet again my guest post comes from (in)courage (http://www.incourage.me/2013/05/love-and-cough-drops.html). This time written by By Kristin Gordley (Moments In the Story). I have included the completed post, and I pray that you will be encouraged to love in action.

love-is-a-verb

“The other morning I was rushing around trying to get ready while my four-year-old was standing in my bathroom, asking me questions. He watched me use my eye lash curler, and then he tried it himself. As we were chit-chatting about all my beauty products and what they do, he said out of the blue, “Mama, your eyes are pretty and your ear wax tastes good!” I tried hard not to laugh, because I knew he had just tried to craft his words into a statement of love. “Thanks, buddy, I really appreciate it”.

Lately I’ve noticed his efforts to connect with me. Recently when I got ready to go out with his daddy for a rare date-night, he said I looked “beauuutiful”. My son is very verbal. He has always been unafraid to talk to people when we are out and about. The first question he asks every morning when he wakes up is, “who are we gonna see?”  The wirings God infused in him for enjoying people are already evident. He relishes creative conversations with his dad and I, and he longs for restoration with us when we have to correct him.

But the other day he brought tears to my eyes as I recognized something important he was learning, and in turn teaching me. I had been sick for a few days, and he was enjoying the novelty of playing with my cough drops. While I was getting him and his little brother packed up in the car for a grocery trip, he ran back into the house and stuffed a bunch of cough drops into his pocket. I was a little annoyed because I was trying to get us out the door. On the way to the store he must have asked a hundred times if I needed a cough drop. My repeated “no thank you” turned into, “I’m fine. You don’t need to ask me anymore!”

I got them in the cart, into the store, and we were finally making progress. And then I started coughing…..

“Mama, do you need a cough drop?”

I accepted it…..and yet another. And I realized how much I needed his little act of love. In my heart I stopped and thanked God for my son’s display of something God has been impressing upon me. Then I remembered the verse that just days before, I found myself studying in a coffee shop.

1 John 3:18

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue,

but with actions and in truth.”

I tell my boys how much I love them all the time. I tell my husband, too. I love connecting with people through meaningful conversations, and reaching out with my words is not a struggle for me. But putting actions behind my love is something I don’t always find easy.

Watching my son move from verbally telling me how he felt about me, to choosing to act on his feelings was one of the most surprising and humbling moments I’ve had as a mom. Active love stopped me in my tracks and it challenged me.

We tend to emphasize loving acts that are big, for all eyes to see. But sometimes the smaller ones are the most meaningful…..like a little hand holding out a cough drop at just the right moment.”

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