Thursday, February 28, 2013

Warning: this might offend you.

It's bad enough that people on facebook post pictures and stories and want you to share them to prove that you love Jesus but why do they have to add "most of you won't repost this but the few of you that really love Jesus will."?! Seriously?! Because that's how we show our love for Christ? You have got to be kidding me!! We prove who Christ is to us by how we represent him in real life. Not by simply clicking "like" or "share". Anybody can do that.

Why have we allowed Christianity to be watered down and sugar coated like this? It really bothers me. I am less than perfect and know that I am nothing without Christ. I have made more mistakes than I'd like to admit but liking a picture on fb doesn't change that. Only forgiveness and the grace of God changes that.

Our lives should be the evidence of our belief in God. Even still, believing in God is only the beginning. The demons believe in God -- and shutter! We believe in God and have to like a picture? No thanks. That's not the Christianity that I want.

We sometimes forget that it's God's loving kindness that leads to repentance. Not guilt or shame. Those are NOT of God. We should never make someone feel guilty or shameful. How was it that you came to know Jesus? "It is by grace that you have been saved through faith in Christ Jesus." It is a gift. Not everyone will choose to receive this gift of grace but that is between them and God. Our responsibility is to love God and love people.

Jesus was a rebel. He went against religion. He gives freedom from religion. For us to promote anything less than that goes against all that Christ did for humanity.

I'm not saying that liking or sharing anything about Jesus is bad or wrong but I think we can do more to share our love for Jesus. When we see Jesus face to face he isn't going to ask how many likes or shares we contributed to on facebook. He will either say well done my good and faithful servant or I know you not.

Thank you for letting me vent. I just don't understand the guilt trip with pictures and stories that want you to prove you love Jesus. Jesus never ever makes anyone feel guilty. We shouldn't either.

End rant.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sara's Recs. Thank me later.

This blog is inspired by two things. 1) a blog that a friend of mine posted and 2) it would be selfish of me to not share what has been shared with me.

If you follow me on twitter or are friends with me on Facebook you most likely have seen many posts and tweets about/from books or devotions that I am reading/have read. I want to give you a list of those books in the case that you were interested in experiencing them as well. It is my hope and prayer that they will impact your life like they have mine or more so!!

Throughout God's word we are told to seek wisdom and knowledge. I believe that these books will help you to do just that. They have given me a deeper knowledge of who I am in Christ, who He is, and have shown me many of the hidden treasures of God's word.

1. It's one thing to hear about the adventures of the "overboard" Christians and think "I wish I could do something like that". It's another thing to actually do it! Regardless of your age, past, financial status, current circumstances, education God wants to take you on your own adventure with Him! Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson is the book that will set the fire under your seat!

2. Have you ever asked "who am I?", "what is my purpose?", "what makes me different than the rest?"? Soul Print by Mark Batterson will help you seek and find answers to those very questions. It's important to know who you are. When you know who you are you are more confident in what God has planned for you.

3. We have all heard that prayer is powerful. Am I alone in getting distracted or remembering everything that I had forgotten throughout the day during prayer? I have a feeling the answer is no. In  The Circle Maker by... you guessed it... Mark Batterson he gives you tools to have a more effective prayer life. No, there is not a formula to prayer. Yes, there is a power and faith that comes with better understanding prayer. If you desire to feed your dreams and starve your fears this book is for you!

4. We did this 30 day journal with our intern teams. Each day you read a story from a missionary to an unreached people group and it ends with a group to pray for and a challenge for the day. If you are unaware of unreached people groups or have a burden for them then Live Dead Journal is just what you need!

5. If you grew up in an AG church you may have thought the AG stood for "always guilty" and not Assemblies of God ha! In Permission to Speak Freely Ann Jackson compiles art on fear, confessions, and grace. It is for freedom that we have been set free not for shame or guilt. As Christians we sometimes forget where we came from or where we would be if it weren't for grace. Ann Jackson challenges us to speak freely - about who we are, who we were, and who God is making us to be!

6. I have done two studies by Kelly Minter. Nehemiah and Ruth (which unfortunately isn't available at the moment). There is no way that I can tell you just how much grew spiritually and in knowledge of God's word because of these studies. Even though we can never know at that there is to know about God I am excited to spend my life getting to know as much as I can!

7. Pretty much anything by Beth Moore will rock your world. She is a huge inspiration to me. Her influence on women has opened up the door for God to do some mighty things! I have done her study on Esther. Little did I know that soon after I finished this study God was going to use it as my first sermon. I was in Kenya and the night before church I was asked to preach. Sunday morning I woke up to an brain overload of Esther. I took that as a hit that that was what God wanted me to share that morning. Many women made Jesus Lord of their life that morning. Not because of anything I did but because God knew what I would need to say at that time and prepared me a few weeks prior. Evidence of God's great grace and divine provision.

8. Lastly I am currently doing Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit by Beth Moore. What better evidence of our relationship with Jesus than the fruit of the Spirit? I am one week into the six week study. Whoa! It's intense! If you don't want to be a lukewarm Christian this will help you to deepen you relationship with Jesus and others.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

What do I have in common with King David, Ruth, and Rahab?

I am finishing up my second devotion by Kelly Minter. The first one I did was Nehemiah and the second is Ruth. I highly recommend them. There's no way that I can tell you all that I have learned, the understanding of God's word that I have obtained (and the greater awareness of the fact that it is impossible to learn all there is to know about God), the impact these studies have had on my relationship with Jesus, and my new sense of pride in being voted least likely.

There is club that the heroes of our faith didn't realize they had started and were key members of. I call it the least likely club. Least likely to succeed, to be picked for the team, to serve God, to be noticed by God, to do anything significant for the Lord, to get married, to rule a nation.

Wanna know the back story to the 12 tribes of Israel? (Genesis 29:14-30:24)

Jacob falls in love with Rachel but was deceived and given Leah on the wedding day. After seven years Jacob was finally given Rachel. Leah had sons and Rachel couldn't have any. They start this competition to give Jacob sons. In Rachel's desperation she had Jacob sleep with her maidservant. Twice. She got pregnant and had two sons. Somewhere along the line Leah had her maidservant sleep with Jacob. Rachel finally had two sons. Altogether, they had 12 sons. They made up the 12 tribes of Israel. Rachel, Leah, and Jacob's love triangle was least likely to produce a nation.

Gods people are a product of two jealous,competing sisters, two maidservants, and one man!

Ruth. A Moabite woman. (Moabites were enemies of Israel; God's people). After the death of her husband, brother in law and father in law Ruth moved to Israel with her mother in law, Naomi. She worked hard gleaning in the fields. She made Naomi's God her own. God redeemed Ruth through Boaz. Ruth is the great grandmother of David. An enemy of God's people. Foreigner. Widow. Poor. Least likely to marry an Israelite and set forth the Lord's redemption plan for all mankind. She even has her own book in the Bible.

King David. The youngest of seven brothers. His father didn't even bring him to the line up of Samuel anointing the next king. But, God saw his heart. He wasn't a war hero, a buff barbarian man, but a young fifteen year old shepherd boy. He was definitely least likely to be king.

Rahab. A Canaanite prostitute. Most likely had a survival mindset. Just trying to get through the day. No idea of her worth. Want to know what makes her significant enough to be mentioned in the Bible? She helped God's people, had a simple faith in God, and, here's the kicker, is in the genealogy of Jesus!!!!!

I grew up very shy and timid. I would stutter and sometimes cry just from talking to someone or in front of the smallest group. Leaving my mom was never an option. I didn't go to college and haven't take any Bible classes.

Now, I'm a missionary. I have traveled the world (without my mom I might add). I have spoken at women's conferences, preached, shared the gospel with unreached people groups,  and helped lead teams. All of this is not because of any training or education. It is simply because God uses the least likely to do the unimaginable. If God believes in me then I must believe in His ability to enable me. I am nothing without Him.

If you think or have ever thought that your past disqualifies you then think again. It not only doesn't disqualify you but makes you a member of the least likely club. If you are obedient and faithful you will leave a legacy and a story that will inspire generations!

My name is Sara and I am proud to be least likely!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The coolest people I've never met.

Never underestimate God's ability to use people you don't even know to change your life.

If you know me even a little bit you know that I like The Office and Twitter. So naturally I follow Dwight Schrute (parody of course). About three-ish years ago Dwight was tweeting about this cool new social media site called "Simler". It was sort of like Facebook meets Twitter. I decided to check it out. It was there that I "met" a few people that I in turn started following on Twitter.

Sadly, Simler didn't take off like it was expected to. Even though Simler wasn't around I still stayed in contact via Twitter with the people I had connected with.

It was around that time, 2010, that I decided to do the internship with Convoy of Hope. I was plastering Facebook and Twitter with my fundraising efforts. Some of the very first people to donate to my trip were the people on Twitter. People I've never met in real life. People that only know me from social media began to invest in what God was doing in my life.

Fast forward a few months. I may or may not tweet about my love for bacon and The Office often. Because of that a friend of mine introduced me to a friend of his that loves Jesus and bacon and The Office. She lives in China with her family. We started following each other on Twitter.

Fast forward again. I'm in Springfield, MO doing the internship. I'm nearly $3,000 short of my budget to go to Kenya and only 5 days to get it all in. I put out one last plea via email, FB, Twitter, and texts. To my surprise the woman that I was introduced to just a couple months prior donates $570!! Along with her donation and two very significant donations I made it to Kenya.

That internship led to me moving to MO to be a bus driver which, through a series of events, led me to become an AG missionary working with Convoy of Hope. I have always been very genuine and honest about what I'm doing, who I am, and what I believe. I have found this to be a way for God to include people from all over the U.S. and the world in my journey. In MY journey. Little ol' me. 

From 2010 until now $1,000+ has been donated to my missions trips from people I have never met outside of Twitter. 

Most recently, my friend in China introduced me to her friend that lives in Tanzania! Whoa!! And the world keeps getting smaller.

The people that I have "met" on Twitter have made a huge impact on my life. They may never know just how much their support means to me. I may never get to thank them face to face but I am confident that God will bless them more than I ever could.

I wanted to share this story because I am continually humbled by how much God cares about the little details of my life and the big desires of my heart. There isn't anything too small or too big that He doesn't see. If it matters to me it matters to Him.

A huge thank you to everyone who has invested into my life whether it's praying for me, encouraging me, listening, donating, calling me out, pushing me, or not letting me give up. It is my hope and my prayer that God will use me to inspire others to do the impossible. To do what can only be done because of Jesus.

I am truly blessed!

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