Monday, November 17, 2014

Should You Be Labeled "Christian"?

I read something once that has stayed with me. I forget who the author was, but their words are seared into my memory. The writer pointed out that Acts 11:26 notes that believers were first called "Christians" at Antioch. The premise, the writer pointed out, was that it was not a label coined by the Believers, but rather a label given to them by outsiders. 

The writer then went on to ask a very pointed question:

Would those looking in at your life label you as a Christian (a true follower of Christ)? 

Would your actions cause others to see that you live, act, and behave like Christ? 

Since that day, I have thought a lot about what that means. I want others to see Christ in me. I want them to see my life and heart reflect His in such a way that it's evident that I am following hard after Him. 

My sister shared something that she learned recently and it tied in so well with this thought. She was in a cemetery and came across a Latin phrase on a headstone. The English translation rolled around inside my head and wouldn't leave me alone. The phrase in English was: "Though silent, he speaks."

I wrote more about it at today. Please join me (by clicking HERE) as I write about how we can speak even though we may never utter a word. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

What If We Looked Forward?

phós: light
φῶς, φωτός, τό
light, a source of light, radiance
5457 phṓs (a neuter noun) – properly, light (especially in terms of its results, what it manifests); in the NT, the manifestation of God's self-existent life; divine illumination to reveal and impart life, through Christ.

I am on fire. Inside,

God has been leading me in a new way for a while. It's felt strange at times, exhilarating in others, and even still, terrifying in most ways. 

He's been placing two words on my heart...what if?

What if...this life isn't all there is?

What if...I acted every day like my actions make a difference?

What if...I took Him seriously when He promises to bless me and not to harm me?

What if...I stepped outside of my comfort zone?

What if...I really trusted Him. 

What if...I did the hard thing and didn't look for the easy way out?

I love the idea of creating something new, something others can take part in and that will build community. 

I began blogging here almost 6 years ago and couldn't sleep the first night I hit "publish" on what was then a Bible study. I was terrified of what people would think. Today, I am astounded to say that I am "friends" with some of the most amazing women and some of the top-rated authors, writers, and bloggers in the Christian women genre. 

I started Deliberate Women in 2012 and it has grown to 7 women who love Jesus and pour our hearts into writing about Him and reaching out to other ladies. 

I began contributing to other blogs like Natalie Snapp (formerly Mommy on Fire), Time-Warp Wife, Ungrind, The Better Mom, Overcomer Outreach, MOB Society, and Unveiled Wife. And the number of people my words reached grew exponentially. 

Each time, I took a shaky step forward, certain that God was off His rocker to ask me to do these things. And each time, He blessed me. Each time I grew a little more brave. And each time I knew He held me in His hand. 

And now...God, as is so like asking me to step out again. 

And the funny thing about God is that He never lays out the full and total blueprint for me. It's not like he hands me the Master Plan and allows me to see years and years ahead so that everything makes sense. No. Instead, God really adheres to Psalm 119:105
"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path."
He requires that I dig deep into His Word (the Bible) to "hear" Him and to see what He wants for me. Then, He shines just enough light on my path that my next step is illuminated.

It's rarely, if ever, a spot light illuminating the next mile. It's usually just enough guidance and light that I know where my foot will fall.

So I am stepping out now, one foot forward. I am excited to be a part of something that is going to be used in big ways...even if I don't know what that means or what it will look like.

I hesitate to link this without really knowing what it is or where it's going, so I will save that for the future. As God reveals one piece at a time, I will share it with all of you.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for being here. Thank you for coming back (if you have). And thank you for being a HUGE part of this community.

When you feel God bold. Be brave  and leap into what is sure to be an amazing journey tailor-made for you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What If We Were Brave?

God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.
2 Timothy 1:7

Think about that.

What does it mean to be bold? Brave?

I think it means to do the hard stuff even when our knees are knocking, when our hearts threaten to beat right out of our chest, and when we know we will be met with opposition and criticism. 

I think it also means doing what we know is right, even when everything in us screams to run the other direction, to take the easy way out.

We can be considered brave in any number of pursuits, but only the ones that really matter are the ones I want to put my full effort into. 

Many things are called brave in our culture today. I've seen blatant sin called "brave" in the media and by our leadership.

What would a life of true bravery look like? What are examples of lives lived in true bravery?

We don't have to look very far in the Bible to find examples. One of the greatest is Paul. Paul who started life as Saul, the man who was so religiously devout that he hunted and condoned the murders of countless Jesus followers. 

One of the many things I love about Paul is that once he saw the light (literally on the road to Damascus in Acts 9), there was no hemming or hawing, no wishy-washy dipping in of the toe. There was no "finding himself" time or "last hurrah" before launching into ministry. Instead, he jumped in head-first with everything he had. And he had a LOT to lose. 

As a result of his dogged determination, he experienced no less of the following in his lifetime: He was flogged, lashed, shipwrecked, and stoned.

We can look at any of the Disciples. All of the original 11 (not including Judas, who killed himself after betraying Jesus) met a miserable and horrific end. 

Our greatest example, Jesus, gave the ultimate sacrifice of His life, but also of having the Father turn away from Him...all for our benefit. do we live a life of bravery?

Where I live, I don't foresee being stoned or hunted down and beheaded for my faith, although that reality is becoming more and more real as we see evil rising up and creeping ever closer.

In our culture, we tend to expect life to go smoothly, Major hindrances and obstacles aren't expected. Maybe small ones like traffic jams, spilled coffee as we're walking out the door, or a canceled babysitter on date night.

But what about the BIG ones like cancer, abuse, betrayal, death of a loved one, losing a child? 

Or even ridicule, contempt, and condemnation for speaking the Truth and defending the Word?

In those situations we tend to question God. Sometimes we ask "why us?" Even if we don't give a voice to our thoughts, we still argue silently with God about all we've done for Him and demand to know why He'd allow such things in our lives. 

Sometimes we try to live very "safe" so as to avoid the unpleasantness that often accompanies living on this planet. 

Like when we stay silent when we watch a friend careening off the tracks of life.

Or smile and nod and remind ourselves not to "judge" others when we see them making choices that grieve the Holy Spirit.

What about when we withdraw from loved ones when they are struggling in life?

Perhaps when we withhold forgiveness or reconciliation from a brother or sister who has "sinned big" and let us down. 

Maybe it's when we hold leaders in our church to impossible standards and cast them out without following Matthew 18 or Galatians 6:1 when they've been caught in sin.

What does bravery look like?
Could it mean taking a stand and speaking the truth in love, but with firmness?

Could it mean letting go of a hurt and forgiving even when everything in us wants vengeance?

Could it mean acknowledging that we all sin, even when we're leaders in the church, even when we "know better" and that restoration and reconciliation is offered to all...regardless of our sin?

Could it mean withholding bitterness and contention from someone, even when we've spoken the Truth in love to them and they choose a different way anyway?

Could it mean loving someone regardless of when they hold diametrically opposed views from our own?

Could it mean going against our cultural norm and what is considered "politically correct" when it flies in the face of God's Word?

Could it mean giving up certain things that aren't edifying and aren't serving to bring us closer to God, but drive us further away?

Could it mean actively digging into the Word so that we know what and who God is, rather than taking our pastor's/friend's/priest's/parents' word for it?

Could it mean making sweeping changes in our lives where needed even though we may be seen as "weird" or "fanatical"?

Could it mean hitting "publish" on a post that could be received as "judgmental," but doing it anyway because you feel called to do it?


Those and a million different scenarios are brave. 

Regardless of the consequence, the backlash, or the pain, how are you going to be brave today? This week? 

What keeps you from being brave?

With God on my side I'm fearless, afraid of no one and nothing." Psalm 27:1

Stand your ground. And don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort." 1 Corinthians 15:58


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