Purposeful Living

  • Helping Others Experience God

    The Emergency Room doctor finally came into our room in the early morning hours to inform us that the children’s hospital a couple of hours away, had room for us. “Go home, pack your bags, and get a few hours of sleep.” They will be ready for you when you get there.”

    Over the past week, our son’s epilepsy had spiraled out of control. The Emergency Room doctor decided it was time to get specialized help for our son. We followed his instructions and headed home for a few hours. As I packed our bags, my heart sank. Our house looked like an EF5 tornado had torn through it. The dishes were piled high. The laundry was overflowing onto the floor. It had taken so much of my physical and emotional energy to try to get Jaron’s seizures under control, I had nothing left to give to maintaining the house. I didn’t want to leave it in such a state of disarray, but there was no time to deal with it. We caught a few hours of sleep, dropped our other son off at a friend’s house, and headed down the highway with the hope the children’s hospital would have answers and a solution to our son’s seizures.

    By the grace of God they did. After five days in the hospital, Jaron was given a diagnosis and a treatment plan. As we were headed back home I had a feeling of dread. How was the house going to smell? How many days was it going to take for me to recover the house from the chaos that reigned before we left? I got out of the car and headed for the door. As I turned the handle and pushed on the door, I braced myself for the stench I knew had been percolating in my home for the last week, but the smell of rotting food didn’t accost me. Instead, a freshly vacuumed and dusted living room greeted me. The dining room table and kitchen counters were no longer stacked with dirty dishes and covered with crumbs. Instead, a spotless, decluttered kitchen glistened back at me. I wandered into the bedrooms. All the laundry had been washed and folded neatly on the dressers. Someone even had the kindness of heart to scrub the toilet clean.

    As I stared in gratitude at the gift given to me, I began to cry. It was one of those cries that comes from feeling unworthy and so very loved all at the same time. A cry of joy and relief. It was a cry that comes from knowing you have been in the presence of God and received a blessing. In that moment I knew that God was with me–not because I saw His shining face, or heard His voice speak to me, but because I saw Him living and active in His church through those who showed up in our time of need.

    We often think of Immanuel “God with Us” as an experience that only happened to those blessed people who were able to walk alongside Jesus two thousand years ago. But when Jesus’ resurrected body left to prepare a place for us, His presence didn’t leave the earth. It returned as the Holy Spirit working through His church. As 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “We are the body of Christ.” And Jesus’s body loves, serves, sacrifices, comforts, and heals. When we use the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us, we continue Jesus’s work on earth. We show the world that God is still with us.

    Think about it for a moment. When you choose to use your gift of listening to encourage the lonely stranger at the store, you are loving like Jesus to that person. When you use the gift of cooking to provide for a new mother, you are serving like Jesus. When you sit with someone going through a season of mourning, you are comforting like Jesus. Whenever you choose to care for someone, that person gets the chance to experience God through the Holy Spirit working through you just like when the members of my church used their gifts to reclaim my house from chaos. They performed a miracle in my life. They showed that God knew exactly what I needed and used His people to provide it.

    What an indescribable privilege it is, that the God of the universe would choose to use us to love His creation. Looking around at our broken world, it isn’t hard to see that it is in desperate need of the presence of God flowing through His people. The world needs us to be God’s hands to hug, comfort, and serve–to be His voice bringing good news of love and hope. The strengths and gifts we have could be used to bring light and encouragement to those who are experiencing darkness and sorrow, if we are boldly willing to use them.

    As we close one year and look ahead to another, I pray that we will have eyes to see the needs of those around us and the courage to follow the Spirit’s guidance, so others too may have the opportunity to experience, Immanuel “God With Us.”

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  • Doing Small Things With Great Love

    Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells me so…

    It was the only song that would calm my youngest foster son down at bedtime when he first came to our family. Going back and forth between homes left him with little consistency, and we were going through a season where he would not go to bed without a fuss. So, I began a routine of rocking him and singing to him, just like I had done with my older children since birth. We would go through the same routine each night, asking him if he would like me to sing to him, and then singing the same four songs. He would look at me intently through the first 3 songs, sniffling and just on the verge of crying. But when I reached the last song, “Jesus Loves You”, his little face would transform into a smile, and by the end of the song, he would say contentedly, “Ready bed now.”

    I had tried all sorts of other things to console him, but he found his true comfort in hearing that someone bigger than all of us loved him. It wasn’t all the stuffies and cozy blankets, a bottle, or rubbing his back, it was hearing that he was loved. A song I have sung thousands of times over the years, sometimes purely as a routine, rang as grandeur in his ears. For the next several nights the same thing would transpire. He would listen, just on the verge of tears, until he heard “Jesus Loves You” and then a peaceful smile would spread across his sweet face and he’d say, “Ready bed now”. 

    I realized that this song, though it seemed small to me, was a BIG thing for him. It made me pause, thanking God for opening my eyes to what my son truly needed to hear, and how this little thing, transformed not only bedtime but ultimately our lives.

    The things we are called to do each day don’t always have to be the grand things; it’s using whatever you have for the sake of the Kingdom, whether big, small, or in between. It’s giving with a joyful heart and having the assurance that what you have to give, at that moment, is enough!

    In today’s world, we have so many hats we must wear and honestly, there are times when I am overwhelmed by the feeling of  “not being enough” for everyone and everything that needs my attention. I want to give 110%, but it can be a struggle to meet my own high expectations. Sometimes it’s exhausting and leaves me feeling drained, alone, and empty, because with every hat I wear, I want to give my all. But it’s in those moments when my little one is crying, seeking comfort, that I see how even a small thing to me can be a BIG thing to someone else. The best part is, that small thing is enough!

    Ultimately, “BIG things” for God are the kingdom purposes we help to promote, not the size or the impressiveness of the jobs we are doing. And it’s not even the number of hats we choose to wear. It’s when we can do the small things with great love, that we are truly following God’s will for our lives!

    Over and over in the Bible, we see examples of the smallest things reflecting Jesus and his Kingdom priorities. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed in Matthew 13:31-31, Jesus makes the point that the beginning of great things can be tiny. Even though they might seem insignificant, their impact can’t be measured by their almost invisible origins.  

    In the parable of the Widow’s Offering in Mark 12:41-44 NIV, Jesus was not impressed with those who made a big show of giving “large sums” into the offering. Instead, he praised the widow who gave “two small copper coins, which make only a few cents”, because it was all she had to give. Our Lord focused not on the amount, but on the sacrifice involved and the heart behind it. 

    In Jesus’ parable of the talents, the master didn’t focus on the amounts given to each servant, but on the faithfulness each displayed in using his resources. (Matt 25:21-23 NIV)

    We see God’s Kingdom purposes in these stories and those little things, those matters of the heart, are ultimately the big things to God. What’s even better is that God is inviting you to join Him in the work he is already doing!

    I want to encourage you to not take stock of your value, or the impact you make in this world by measuring what you do, rather measure HOW you do it. Is your heart giving to others? Are you doing everything with great love? Are you planting the seeds to grow God’s Kingdom no matter what hat you are wearing? Remember, on your best day you are a child of God, and on your worst day you are a child of God too! The secret to having it all is knowing you already do in Christ!

    Missionary statesman, Hudson Taylor, said, “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing.” My prayer for you this week is that you will find joy in the daily tasks ahead of you and that God will reveal to you how those tasks are blessing others and ultimately blessing you!

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  • Cultivating the Fruits of the Spirit

    I love summertime! There is so much to enjoy in the summer, but one of the things I enjoy the most about living in the Pacific Northwest is the bounty of berries and fruits that we get to enjoy. My kids enjoy snacking on blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and watermelon! We wait all year long to be able to enjoy the harvest of these fruits. I’d like to say that I have something to do with the production of these amazing fruits but to be honest, we just get to enjoy them.

    In Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT), it says “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

    As Christians, we have the amazing privilege of having God’s spirit living within us. But more often than I care to admit, I forget that. I’ll read a passage like this one in Galatians and see it as a to-do list that is somehow up to me. I end up thinking that if I’m a good Christian, then I better make sure I’m loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind all the time, be good and faithful and gentle in all things and of course control myself above all else. That is definitely a high calling! The problem isn’t in striving for these things, it is in the perception that we have to produce these fruits ourselves–that we somehow have to make ourselves be like this all the time, even if we have to fake it to make it.  Have you ever felt like this?

    Trying to produce these fruits of the Spirit of our own will, power, and strength will leave us feeling exhausted before we even get started. The key is to notice who is supposed to produce the fruit in our lives–it is the Holy Spirit. It isn’t up to us because it’s not our job to produce the fruit. Our job is to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work within us. As we yield to the Spirit’s work within us, He produces the beautiful fruits of the Spirit. They are evidence of the Holy Spirit at work within us! The great thing about the fruit the Spirit produces is that it isn’t just for our enjoyment but to bless those around us as well.

    I don’t know about you, but I find some relief in the idea that it’s not all up to me. Because honestly, there are times when I really struggle with some of these, especially when it comes to patience and self-control! Anyone else? 😀

    In the same way fruit doesn’t make itself but is produced by a tree, neither can we be filled with joy and love and peace unless the Spirit produces it. So you may be asking, if it’s not our job to produce the fruit in our lives, how do we let the Spirit lead us and transform us into people who display these fruits of the Spirit in our lives?

    Our job is to be the soil, a place for the Spirit to dwell. Our job is to nurture and allow God’s spirit to do its work within us, making us into people who are full of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In order for this work to happen, we must remain in God, our source of life.

    John 15:4 says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

    As we spend time with God, in His Word, in times of prayer and time spent with His people in worship, we create the rich soil that allows the Holy Spirit to transform us to look more like God. To display His love, His peace, His joy, His patience, His goodness, His faithfulness, His gentleness and His self-discipline in our lives and to the world around us. 

    So next time you are reaching and striving for a little more peace, or to be filled with joy, or to feel a little more patient, lean into God a little bit more. He has a never-ending supply of these fruits of the Spirit and He withholds no good thing from us. It is always His joy to produce these fruits in our lives if only we ask and allow Him to work within our hearts. Like all good fruit, it sometimes takes time to grow but the more we remain in God, the richer the harvest will be in our lives.

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  • A Divine Invitation

    I squinted and pulled the visor down as I sat in my car, waiting for the car ahead of me to turn onto the highway. My kids and I were on our way to church and I was lost in thought, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel and wondering if we had enough time to get some Starbucks on the way.

    Traffic was pretty heavy and I didn’t think much of it when a few minutes passed and the car ahead of me still hadn’t moved. But when the passenger door suddenly swung open, and an older woman stepped out onto the road, it snapped me out of my daze. 

    She looked around for a moment, turned west, and started walking on the shoulder of the highway toward town. The car she’d been riding in turned east, and left her to continue her journey on foot. 

    I was truly perplexed and turned to follow her for a moment. Her steps were shaky on the uneven gravel and I worried that she might fall, or worse, accidentally step into the steady stream of traffic whizzing by. 

    I’d never picked anyone up from the side of the road before, but as my car idled past, I was overwhelmed with a feeling that I needed to pull over. It felt like a voice inside me was shouting “Stop the car, NOW!” 

    I immediately pulled over and told my kids to stay in the car while I checked on her. As I got closer to her, she was not at all what I expected. She was dressed in her Sunday best and her soft, silvery hair was swept gently back with a barrette. 

    I asked her if she was ok, and her bright eyes met mine and she replied, “Yes, I’m on my way to see my daughter.” She said her name was Hazel* and explained that she had caught a ride up to that point and planned to walk the last few miles to her daughter’s house. 

    I paused briefly to pray and ask God to help me discern my next step. I took a deep breath and told Hazel that we were on our way to church, and offered to give her a ride to her daughter’s house. She smiled and said “Oh, I’d love to go to church! I’ll just go there with you!” 

    Hazel hopped in the front seat and down the road we went. As we drove, she was talkative and cheerful but was also struggling to remember what town she was in or where her daughter lived. By the time we arrived at church, it was clear that Hazel suffered from dementia and was lost. A friend from church called the police while I sat with Hazel and within minutes they were able to contact her daughter Susan who lived 30 miles away! 

    Susan arrived with tears in her eyes and hugged us all. Her family had been getting ready to go to church that morning too, when Hazel wandered off from the house, something she had never done before. They had called the police and been frantically looking for her, hoping and praying that she was ok. Susan laughed that not only was Hazel ok, she still had managed to go to church! 

    Our laughter was still hanging in the air when Susan’s countenance suddenly became serious and her voice earnest. She leaned in and quietly asked at what time exactly did I pick up Hazel from the highway. I told her I remembered it was at 9:30 am because that was the moment I had been overwhelmed by the feeling that I needed to stop the car right then. 

    Fresh tears filled Susan’s eyes as she said, “It was at exactly 9:30 this morning that our family knelt together in the living room and prayed that God would find Mom and keep her safe.” 

    I was utterly speechless. I could scarcely wrap my head around what God had done. Not only had He heard their prayer and placed me in the right place at the right time, but God had also invited me to participate in His miraculous work.

    In John 5:17, Jesus says, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” That means that in every moment, God’s love, power, and presence are working all around us. We just have to have to recognize where He is working and have hearts willing to join Him.

    It all begins with our relationship with God. On the Experience Revival Podcast, we have been talking a lot lately about being aware of God’s presence throughout our day and actively directing our thoughts toward Him. We become intentional about inviting God into what we are doing by having an ongoing conversation with Him. Dallas Willard calls it ‘living prayer”, where we talk with God throughout the day about what we are doing together. 

    As we spend time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in community with other believers, we get to know God’s character and better recognize His voice. We are transformed to be more and more like Him and our focus shifts from what God is doing in our own lives, to becoming more aware that God might be inviting us into what He is doing. 

    It’s a shift in our thinking because sometimes we just can’t quite imagine that what we have to offer could be of significance in the Kingdom of God. But God is more interested in our willing hearts than our skill sets. We see time and time again in the Bible that God calls someone to join Him in the work He is doing, and then equips them for the task. He uses ordinary people in ordinary circumstances to do extraordinary things. 

    The word calling comes from the Greek kaleo which means “Divine invitation”. In the Bible, it’s used most to describe a divine invitation to partake of the blessings of redemption. In every moment, with every breath, we are given a divine invitation to join God in the redemptive work He is doing all around us.  

    Henry Blackaby wrote a book many years ago called Experiencing God, where he encourages people to “look for where God is working and join him there.” Practicing the presence of God will help us to see Him working around us, but it’s the Holy Spirit that will help us know how to respond. 

    It is through the Holy Spirit that we can discern what our role in a given situation is, as well as what it isn’t. While God is always working, He doesn’t call us to do everything, everywhere, all the time. Our job is to lean into Him, and prayerfully surrender to His will. 

    And it’s not always the big, obvious things that God is calling us to. A lot of times the Lord is working in the details. The big stuff is often hiding in the little stuff. But in God’s hands, the little things can have a divine purpose and a huge kingdom impact. In fact, there’s a good chance that you have already been joining God in His work and maybe didn’t realize it. 

    Like that time you saw your neighbor and sensed that they could use some encouragement, so you stopped to visit for a moment. 

    Or that woman in the grocery store who was a few dollars short, and you felt the Holy Spirit nudge you, so you added it to your bill.

    Maybe it was a kiddo on your son’s soccer team whose family was going through a hard time, so you invited him over to have dinner and watch a funny movie, just to take his mind off things for a bit.

    Maybe it was that time you simply obeyed the Holy Spirit’s prompting to pull the car over to check on someone. 

    They may seem like small things at first, but in God’s hands, they can have a Kingdom-sized impact on their life, and yours. It also changes how we see the details of our lives. Suddenly, what once seemed trivial or mundane now has a bigger purpose. 

    As you go about your week, I want to encourage you to practice being aware of God’s love, power, and presence throughout your day. Talk with Him about what you are doing together. Then look for where He is working, and join Him. The Holy Spirit will often take you outside of what makes sense or beyond your comfort zone, but God has already gone ahead of you. He is always working and He can’t wait for you to be a part of what He’s doing.


    *Names in the story have been changed to protect privacy.

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  • Can Anyone Be a Mentor?

    I sat down in my chair that Sunday morning feeling like I had just run a marathon. I was weary to my very bones. I was struggling hard to balance life with a 6-month-old and a toddler, a full-time ministry, and all the other responsibilities of life. Just getting out the door to go to church that day felt like an epic battle. In fact, every day I had to fight to make it to bedtime without having an emotional breakdown. 

    The struggle I was feeling inside must have been evident because, at the end of worship, a lady named Pam approached me. “You look like you need to talk. Come with me.” She gently helped me out of my chair and walked me to a quiet room with comfortable couches. I gratefully slumped into one of them as tears began to spring from my eyes. Pam handed me a box of tissue and lovingly asked me what was wrong.

    The words all came tumbling out, “I don’t know how other moms do this, but I am struggling to give everyone the attention they need, clean the house, and keep up on the laundry. How did you do it?”

    Pam looked me square in the eyes and said, “When I was in your situation, I had grandparents that lived nearby. They helped me clean. They helped me take care of the kids during worship. They would take the kids to give me a break. Amanda, the reason why you are struggling, is because you have too many unrealistic expectations of yourself. You need to ask for help.”

    Pam was the lead pastor’s wife. She was the same age as my parents. I was drawn to Pam because she had already lived the life that I was living. She had done campus ministry with her husband when they were younger. She knew what it was like to raise a family while dealing with the expectations that are a part of being a pastor’s wife. After 30 years of ministry, she had grown to become a woman sold out to God and confident in who she was. She was a simple and straightforward person. She didn’t try to wow people with fancy food, eloquent words, or perfect makeup. Not because she thought those things were wrong, they just weren’t who she was. It was in this simple woman, that I found one of my greatest mentors.

    While Pam and I didn’t spend a ton of time together, she was always there to talk when I needed to. And she always had words of straightforward, honest wisdom for me, whether she knew that was what she was giving me or not. She was a perfect example of an older woman, loving and caring for a younger woman, speaking God’s word into my life.

    In Titus 2:3-5, Paul tells Titus to encourage the older women of the church to help train the younger women to know what is good. To teach them how to love their children and their husbands well. How to be kind and devoted to the Lord. Throughout the Bible, we see this example of the older mentoring the younger: Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy.

    The church becomes most effective in passing on the faith when different generations are involved. A group of researchers at Effective Ministry did a literature review of studies related to intergenerational relationships within the church. They discovered that youth were less likely to leave the church when they were able to interact with adults during regular church times, AND outside of church meeting times. In other words, the faith of the next generation has a better chance of being passed on, when the older take the time to be a part of the younger’s faith development. Paul was on to something when he told Titus to encourage these types of mentoring relationships within the church. Discipling and mentoring relationships are designed to be a part of the DNA of the church.

    And we don’t have to wait until we are retired to be a mentor! Anyone at almost any age can pour into and help train those younger. My boys are a perfect example of this. 

    When my older two kids were in elementary school, there were middle school and high school-age boys in the church that took them under their wing. They helped show my boys how to act in church and how to appropriately have fun. They set an example for my boys of how to pour into those younger than they were. 

    Now that my older kids are in middle and high school, they naturally have decided to care for the younger boys in our church. They show them how to behave during church and how to follow directions. They teach them how to boldly use their gifts for the glory of God. 

    The influence of their relationship came into full view one Sunday when one of the 3rd-grade boys at church (we’ll call him Kyle) was asked to read scripture during the church service for the first time. He was very nervous and almost didn’t do it. My husband tried to encourage Kyle, but he just stood there, frozen in fear. Finally, my oldest son walked up to encourage him. He calmly pointed to the words in the Bible and told Kyle he had confidence that he could do it. Bolstered by the encouragement of his friend, Kyle began to read! And once he got started, he did a wonderful job! He did it because he knew his high school buddy believed in him. My son was passing on the courage and love God had given him, to the generation below him as he followed in the footsteps of those high schoolers who had poured into him.

    I have heard many people say, they could never be a mentor to someone else. They wouldn’t know what to do. They weren’t smart enough or didn’t know enough to pour wisdom into another person. Is this really true, or do we need to rethink what it means to be a mentor? 

    If I had asked Pam what it takes to be a mentor, she probably would have told me she didn’t know. Even though I could give lots of examples of people Pam had mentored over the years, she would not have given herself that title. She would have simply said, “I’m not your mentor. I’m your friend.” And she would be right. She gave me valuable insight and spoke God’s word to me. Not because she thought she was smarter than me, but because she saw I had a need, and she loved me. The same with my sons and the younger kids at church. They would consider themselves friends to the younger boys in our church, not their mentors.

    Really all it takes to be a mentor and to help pass on the faith to the next generation is a willingness to be a friend to someone younger. To be available to listen and share your life and lessons with them. To tell the story of how God has walked with you. 

    You don’t have to have all the answers, but through relationships, you can model what a godly life can look like. When we choose to befriend women of different ages in the church, the results can be life-changing and soul-saving. 

    As Effective Ministry uncovered, when we take the time to build godly relationships within the church, faith is handed down to the next generation, and souls that might have drifted away, find an anchor within the church family.

    Look around the groups you are a part of. Look in your church, the moms’ group you are a part of, or the book club you attend. Who do you know that you could begin to befriend that is older than you? How could you make some time to listen to their story? Who do you know who is younger than you that you could bless by befriending? By being in relationship with these people, your own faith will be shaped and you’ll pass on life-giving faith to the next generation.

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  • Made For More

    Not too long ago, in a land not so far away, I worked as an on-air radio personality, reporting the local news, weather & traffic every morning on several radio stations. Each night, before I went to bed, I would scan the headlines, and in the morning, I’d check again to catch any of the late-breaking stuff I may have missed while I was sleeping. Sadly, the headlines rarely announced any good news. As the pandemic wore on, and riots rocked many cities, including my own, the majority of the stories I’d find were full of tragedy, crime, or conflict. And after a long day, running in a million directions on too little sleep with no end in sight, my heart and soul would just ache for good news. 

    Have you experienced that feeling? That longing for someone to tell you something good? To tell you that there’s more to this life than the constant struggle and striving, that all the hard stuff you’ve been through wasn’t a waste. To tell you that you were made for more than what this world has to offer and you don’t have to wait until you’re on the other side of heaven to live life abundantly.

    If you’re feeling weary and depleted from the day-to-day fight, my friend, I have good news for you: You’re not alone, and you are made for more. 

    In fact, it’s the whole reason Jesus came. He saw us hurting in our mess and broke through the darkness to rescue us and give us something better. The moment Jesus came, everything was changed forever. That was the beginning of Kingdom life unfolding.  

    We get a sneak peek at the Kingdom of God in Isaiah 61:1-3. It’s no coincidence that Jesus directly quotes this passage in the book of Luke when He reveals His identity as the Son of God and the fulfillment of this very prophecy. 

    “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

    I love this entire verse. Talk about the ultimate mic drop moment! I wish I could unpack all of its amazing goodness right here, but we would need more time. So over the next few weeks, we’ll be digging into more it as we lead up to the Revive Conference on February 25th! (You are totally invited, by the way, and can find out all about it here)

    Right now I want to focus on the very first little bit. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was on Jesus to bring good news. He himself was and is the ultimate good news. 

    When Jesus walked this earth, He literally did all of the things that we see in Isaiah 61:1-3. And He does them for us still today. He gives good news to the poor and provides for them. When we are at the end of ourselves, He always provides exactly what we need right when we need it. He carries us through the lean times and blesses us in ways we can’t even imagine. 

    He comforts the brokenhearted, holding us when we are weak, and crying with us when we weep. 

    Through His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus releases us from the chokehold of sin and redeems pain and our story, for purpose. Through Him, we have a fresh start as a new creation. 

    He gives hope and justice to those who earnestly ask for it, and one day will come again to set things right once and for all. 

    He takes the ashes of our lives, the messes, and the brokenness and gives us a crown of beauty instead. He takes our despair and mourning, holds and heals our hearts, giving us instead a spirit of praise and joy that transcends our circumstances.

    All we have to do is lean in. Rest in the arms of our Savior and give Him the hurt and broken pieces of our hearts and lives. He does all the rest. You don’t have to earn it and you don’t have to compete for it. You don’t have to run yourself ragged doing all the things. God’s love is not something you can lose, and you don’t have to worry about being perfect. There’s nothing that you can do to mess up His plans. God’s Kingdom does not depend on our ability, strength, perfection, or talent. You just have to say, “Ok, Lord, here I am.” It’s the safest and sweetest surrender you’ll ever know. 

    God could have just stopped there. He could have just rescued and restored us, dusted us off, and set us back on the road. Instead, He invites us to join Him, to be a part of what He is doing to bring about the restoration of His creation. Through the Holy Spirit, we are empowered and mobilized to live out the same kind of Kingdom life we have received, with everyone around us. We get to be bearers of the ultimate Good News about Jesus and invite others to be a part of God’s story unfolding.

    That doesn’t mean the rains and winds won’t blow, or that the hard times won’t come. We will still see heartache and pain in the world because God isn’t finished yet. The Kingdom is unfolding now, but the work is also not complete yet. So we will have our share of trouble, but our identity and security rest in the One who has already overcome the world. God gives us strength, hope, and purpose, and sets us apart to be a light radiating out into the darkness of our world. He commissions us to continue the work that He started through Jesus and to participate through His Spirit in His Kingdom come.

    And even when we feel the full force of the storm, and the sting of the rain on our faces, because of Jesus we can stand firm and steadfast. We can be like a mighty oak tree with our roots planted firmly in the bedrock of faith, as a display of God’s splendor.  And we get to be a safe place of refuge for others searching for solid ground and point them directly to the source of true strength, hope, and peace. 

    We get to work alongside our Heavenly Father binding up the brokenhearted, and reminding them that God is near. 

    We can tell them about freedom in Christ, that they no longer have to be stuck in sin, ruled by circumstances, anxiety or stress. They can be free from the lies that tie them up in knots and lean into the truth of who God says we are and the divine purpose He invites us all to. 

    We can remind them that God sees their suffering and that there is a day coming when God will set things right. A day when His justice will prevail, and their cause will shine like the sun. (Psalm 37:4-6)

    We can point to God at work and help them see beauty rising from the ashes. 

    We can comfort them and help them find their joy. 

    One of the beautiful things about God’s Kingdom is that through the Holy Spirit, we can be both comforted, and offer comfort to others. We can find significance, and divine purpose and know our worth in Christ. And we can help others embrace their significance, purpose, and value as well. There will be seasons when you may not feel like a mighty oak. That’s ok. There will also be seasons where others lean on you because when they look at you, they see Jesus at work. 

    So sweet friend, if you find yourself feeling lost in the darkness, consumed by the bad news of the world, or weary from the stress and strain of life’s hard realities, hold on. God’s not done yet. He has more for you. You are made for more. You are made for Kingdom Life.  

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  • There’s Room At The Table

    When my kids were little and I was just starting out in campus ministry with my husband, God revealed to us the need to have people in our home for a meal and games. I will admit that this was not a calling I had wanted. I was nervous. I had seen the magazine headlines on the covers of home and garden magazines, “How to Wow Your Guests in 3 Easy Steps.” Included with the heading was a picture of a nicely dressed woman, with perfectly styled hair, serving mountains of gourmet food on a crystal platter. The dining room in which she was serving her smiling guests was the size of my kitchen, dining room, and living room combined and was perfectly decorated. 

    After seeing those pictures, I knew having people over to my house for a social gathering was not a good idea. First of all, my hair is never perfectly done. Second, my house was a total of 1,008 square feet. And finally, I am not a gourmet cook. If I try to make something fancy, it never ends up right. Just ask my family. I was overwhelmed and incompetent, or so I thought.

    God continued to nudge me, and I took my first step toward hospitality. I decided the four-person table that barely fit my family of four needed to be replaced with something bigger. I headed to Craigslist to find a used table. If I was lucky, I could find something similar to what the magazine cover showed, but for a reasonable price. My house was not big, but perhaps I could wow my guests with a beautiful table. All the used beautiful hardwood tables still cost thousands of dollars. I simply couldn’t afford them. 

    After a couple of weeks of looking, I finally found a table that was larger than the one I had, and for the price I could afford. It was not solid wood. It was made out of pressboard with a plastic laminate top. I was disappointed. How was I going to do good hospitality in a small house with a pressboard table? It turns out, with the help of God, I could do a lot of good hospitality with unimpressive things. 

    Because you see, God saw what I could not: that there is an epidemic of loneliness in the United States. Harvard University came out with an article recently that discusses this very thing.  They found that one in three Americans frequently feel lonely. For mothers with young children, the percentage goes up to 51%. Then an amazing 61% of people ages 18-25 struggle with extreme loneliness. 

    That means that as we go to work, walk in the stores, and sit in our churches, we are surrounded by people who feel deprived of meaningful relationships with others. Perhaps you even fall into one of these categories. 

    This epidemic of loneliness is heartbreaking and it is a real problem that affects not just our hearts and minds, but our overall health as well. According to the study, “loneliness is linked to early mortality, and a wide array of serious emotional and physical problems.” 

    The fact is that many people just don’t feel loved and valued. They don’t feel they can be open and vulnerable and still be worthy of love and included in relationship. And it’s no wonder when we were created to be in community. We were made to rejoice with one another, and share each other’s burdens. 

    How do we combat this pervasive epidemic of loneliness? God, in His infinite wisdom, tells us the remedy. Hospitality. 

    Romans 12:13 simply states, “Practice hospitality.” A simple command to practice hospitality. But when I ask people if they intentionally invite people into their lives for a game night, a meal, or even a walk around the neighborhood, a majority tell me they couldn’t do it. When I ask why they are hesitant, they say they are afraid of doing it wrong. What if my house is too small? What if I cook the wrong thing? What if I say something wrong? All the what-ifs make them too afraid to ask another person into their life. 

    This fear comes from thinking of hospitality from a worldly view, instead of from a Biblical understanding of hospitality. In America, when we think of hospitality we think of the hospitality industry. Their goal is to make sure customers have every need met and are always comfortable. If we approach personal hospitality with this mindset, it’s so easy to overthink things and let the what-ifs take over. If we think we have to anticipate and cater to our guest’s every possible need to be a good host, it can feel like we’ll never truly be up for the task. But the hospitality industry is trying to make money. Biblical hospitality is about caring for souls. 

    The Greek word for hospitality in the New Testament literally means ‘loving strangers’. It’s not fancy dishes, perfectly decorated homes, or fancy food. If you have these gifts and you love to share them, by all means, do it! But in a country where our physical needs are often met, loving strangers is less about perfecting all the physical details, and more about addressing the emotional needs. It’s about creating an environment where meaningful conversations happen. A place where people can feel loved and valued. 

    This can be done in large, beautiful homes with gourmet food, or over frozen pizza on paper plates in a cluttered house. It doesn’t have to look like a Pinterest-perfect event. The key is being present with those you are with. It is simply loving the person in front of you with your time and attention because they are worth it and loved by God.

    Don’t worry if you don’t feel totally at ease the first couple (or ten) times you practice hospitality. Just like anything else, stepping outside of your comfort zone to try something new takes practice. 

    After placing our “new” table in our dining room, I began my journey into the world of hospitality and I’d love to say I immediately felt at ease. Honestly, for a while, I was a complete wreck every time we had people over. I still stressed over all the details. Was the house clean enough? Did I cook the right thing? I had toddlers, so in my eyes, my house was never as clean as I wanted. I would try to bake or cook fancy things, but they never looked like the magazine picture. After a couple of years, my husband gently told me, “Quit stressing. Nobody cares about those details but you. They are here for the conversation and the company. Not for your fancy punch recipe.” He was right. No one complained about the food or the cleanliness of my house. They always left saying they wanted to do it again sometime.

    And once I got past stressing over details, I realized God had been working in my clumsy attempts of hospitality the whole time. Over my laminate table, I got to listen to people share their joys, fears, and sorrows. 

    God provided the space for a young married couple to share that they were pregnant after only being married for 6 months and their fears of how they were going to pay for a baby while still in college. 

    At my laminate table, I listened to an Iraqi couple share the horrors of Saddam Hussein’s genocide of the Kurdish people. I got to rejoice with a couple who had recently eloped but hadn’t told many people yet. I celebrated job promotions with some and cried with others as they shared family heartaches. 

    We prayed with all of them and parted a little closer, a little less lonely, and feeling much more loved. In the process, my heart overflowed with the joy of being with each person, and the little details that once felt so huge and important paled in comparison to what God was doing. 

    I share my story because I want you to know the joy God has in store for you when you practice biblical hospitality. Not only will you be battling this national epidemic, but God will walk with you and bless you. You don’t have to invite someone over for a meal and games like my family does. You could invite them on a walk or to a playdate in the park. Maybe you could invite someone to a conversation over a hot beverage at a local coffee shop. Do what fits you and experiment. The goal is to simply love that person by giving your time and attention. Look at your calendar and find a time to ‘love a stranger’ and start transforming loneliness into community.

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  • Jesus & Pancakes

    One of the sweetest and most profound conversations I’ve heard was over pancakes at the breakfast table. 

    My oldest son Sam was about 6 when his good friend Josiah came over for a visit. Pancakes are Sam’s favorite, so I whipped up a batch for breakfast and set them on the table for the two buddies to share.

    They carefully poured the syrup over their respective short-stacks, and their little legs swung back and forth in their chairs as they casually chatted about life and their plans for the afternoon.

    I helped myself to a second cup of coffee and leaned on the kitchen counter, smiling and taking in the sweet scene before me. 

    Sam has always been a quiet kid, and Josiah just seemed to get him. He would never interrupt him like other kids often did unintentionally, in their enthusiasm. Josiah just listened intently and then would reply thoughtfully, often with wisdom beyond his years. Sam would listen in turn, and encourage Josiah right back. 

    At one point in their conversation, Josiah turned his whole body in his chair so he could look Sam square in the eye and asked him if he read his Bible and prayed every day. Sam nodded emphatically, and after chewing a huge mouthful of pancakes, assured him that yes, he did every day. 

    “That’s good!” Josiah cheerfully exclaimed. “It’s really important!” 

    Sam asked the same question of Josiah, who affirmed that he also read his Bible and prayed daily. The two finished their pancakes smiling, pleased that they were both living their best lives. 

    I was so inspired by their gentle encouragement of one another and moved by the sweetness of the Lord unfolding in this friendship between first-graders. Even now, ten years later, it brings a smile to my face. 

    Good friends are like that, aren’t they? They shape us to be more like God and spur us on to grow closer to Him. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” It was that same quality that I saw in my son and his friend, iron sharpening iron, not in competition or judgment, but in a heartfelt and caring desire to see the other thriving in their relationship with Christ. 

    Of course, we all want friendships that make us better and encourage us in all the different facets of life, but I think we can all agree that it’s not quite as easy as it was in first grade. 

    Nowadays, cultivating deep and meaningful friendships takes a whole lot of intentionality with a dash of Holy Spirit-fueled bravery. 

    Godly friendships start first with recognizing your own belovedness. I know at a glance that might feel strange, or challenging, or maybe even totally backward, but stick with me. 😉 

    When we acknowledge that we are God’s beloved children, we are recognizing that we are loved simply because we are His. Not on our own merit, but because He knit us together fearfully and wonderfully. There’s nothing we can say or do to earn it or lose it-He is our Abba, our Good Father and we are precious to Him. We can love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

    It is the love of Christ that frees us from insecurity and fear. Because our value and our worth are ultimately in Christ, we don’t have to worry about what others might think or get stuck in our own heads about where to start. We can boldly step out in faith, knowing that the One whose opinion matters most, loves us. 

    When we spend time with God, we realign our perspective with His. We can’t help but be reminded of who He is and how much He loves us. Jesus himself models this in the Gospels by withdrawing by himself to pray and spend time with the Father. He set a powerful and loving example for us to follow so that we could give from the overflow of the love we ourselves receive. 

    So often we try to operate on our own power and wisdom when it comes to relationships. The problem is that our power and wisdom are limited, and we eventually burn out. 

    But spending time with God and being constantly filled and refilled by His limitless love, empowers us to operate from a place of abundance instead of scarcity. We set healthier boundaries, make wiser choices, and speak more kindly to ourselves (and others) because we are more aware that God knows us fully and loves us wholly. 

    Embracing our belovedness and esteeming ourselves the way God does, also changes how we see and esteem others. Suddenly when you look at your friend, you see them first and foremost as a beloved child of God. They have honor and value in the Kingdom of God and are a reflection of God’s own image, just as you are. What a beautiful foundation for a friendship! 

    In the security of a friendship like that, we are able to rejoice when our friend rejoices, and mourn with them when they mourn. We can more easily speak the truth in love when they need encouragement or gentle correction, or simply to be reminded of who they are in Christ.

    Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us.”

    1 John 4:11-12

    There have definitely been times in my life when even if I’m doing all of these things, good friends seem scarce. It is in those seasons, that I turn back toward God in prayer, asking him to show me someone that can be a friend and someone for whom I can be a friend. He has been so faithful to bring people into my life that have blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined. And He has prompted me to notice people in need of His love that I may have never seen otherwise. Oftentimes, those people turn out to be one and the same. 

    In a world where many friendships are mile-wide and puddle-deep, I want to invite you to be bold in praying for the friends that you have and the friends you have yet to meet. 

    Maybe you have been longing for a true friend to link arms with for what feels like ages. We are praying that God leads you to just the right person at just the right time. May He strengthen you and comfort you and help you feel your full worth in Him. And while you wait, may He show you the people in your path that are also longing to experience God’s love through the friendship that only you can offer. Perhaps you are in their life for such a time as this. 

    Maybe you have been blessed with more than one good friend! We are doing a happy dance with you! I want to invite you to pray for those friends and also ask God to keep your eyes open for opportunities to share His love through friendship with others. Ask Him how you can bless your community and love as He loves. Make sure to also take time to withdraw and just be with Jesus, being filled with His love and recognizing your belatedness and the belovedness of others. 

    Finally, wherever you are in your friendships old or new, be intentional, be prayerful and be bold. Intentionally lean into the abundant love God offers, allowing it to fill up your soul to overflowing. Pray for God’s wisdom and tune your heart to His, and follow His lead. Boldly point each other toward God, reminding one another of who we are in Christ, and watch the sweetness of the Lord unfold in your friendships. After all, the joys in life are best when shared with a friend–whether you’re inviting them to coffee or to share a big ol’ stack of pancakes.

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  • You Were Made For Community

    They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42, NIV

    I grew up in what I refer to as a “Cheers” town, not because everyone was always cheerful, but because everyone knew my name, just like the theme song from the TV show. The town I grew up in was not only small (population 750), it was also the town where my parents grew up. So for me, community wasn’t just about having one or two people in your life, it was about having a whole town of people in your life.

    As a teenager, I didn’t really like this because it just felt like my parents had extra “spies” to keep me from having too much fun. But as an adult I now see how blessed I was. My family had people who we could lean on, like my mom’s best friend who let my mom drop my sister and me off at 6:00 am so that she could get to her job. Or our next-door neighbor, who would come blow snow for us when the snow was piled high on the driveway, asking for nothing in return. Or a whole town of people who surrounded my family with love and support as my dad battled cancer. Friends, family and even some strangers during that time would cook us meals, clean our house and eventually help us celebrate his life.

    Looking back, yes it was a “Cheers” type community, but more than that it was an Acts 2:42 community. Often when we read this scripture, we think of fellowship to mean chatting with someone over coffee on Sunday morning or attending a small group bible study together or hanging out on the weekend to shop deals and share cheesecake. While these are all great ways to be together with your tribe, the type of fellowship that is described in Acts 2:42 is not about social activities, but rather about sharing a spiritual life together– encouraging for one another, helping each other through trials, praying for one another, and reflecting God’s love to one another.

    We were designed for community. In his book, Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy, Paul Tripp writes that “we weren’t created to be independent, autonomous, or self-sufficient. We were made to live in a humble, worshipful, and loving dependency upon God and in a loving and humble interdependency with others. Our lives were designed to be community projects.”

    So much of Scripture clearly reflects that we are created for community. We see Mary and Elizabeth, Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, or Moses, Aaron and Miriam and even Jesus himself lived life by taking along 12 friends. Jesus was completely capable of teaching, healing and traveling by himself and yet he chose to be in a community.

    In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 it is written, “two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

    Being in a community helps us in so many ways. We have friends to encourage us when we are feeling low or doubting ourselves, someone to provide emotional support as we wrestle with a problem, people to help us stay committed to our faith, our goals and our purpose, and a place where we can be ourselves and give of ourselves. C.S. Lewis once said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too?’” Being in community reminds us that we are not alone as we experience different seasons and struggles in life.

    Yet knowing that we are designed for community and that we need community, why are so many of us doing life on our own? What keeps us from engaging in real community? Here are six things that might be stopping you from building community. As you read each one, ask yourself, “Is this what’s keeping me from living in community?”

    Trust: You have been hurt in the past by a friend and so you are skeptical of trusting anyone new. You don’t open up easily anymore and you are really cautious about letting anyone into your life.

    Time: You feel like you don’t have time for community because you work long hours, you devote all your time to your family or you just have no space on your calendar for one more activity.

    Insecurity: You doubt whether anyone will like you or if you are good enough to be a part of the group.

    Introversion: You are more comfortable being by yourself than being around others because hanging out with people for long periods of time drains you. You also are looking for others to take the first step in creating community.

    Rejection: You are afraid that if you put yourself out there, others may judge you negatively or you worry that you will not be accepted as you are.

    Rational: You rationalize to yourself that you just moved, you have health issues or have another challenge that prevents you from building a community.

    I no longer live in my small town “Cheers” community. The past three and half years God has been calling me to new places. Along the way I have been discovering how to build community even in the midst of a pandemic and job changes. I could certainly use my relocation as an excuse for not having community in my life, but what I have learned is that I crave community. We live in a world of instant access, instant meals, but friendships and community are not instant. They take intentionality, time and a whole lot of grace.

    People are not perfect and there will be hurts along the way. Even if you are in an Acts 2:42 type community there will be struggles, challenges and wrongs, but through it all we can lean on God and each other. Being involved in a community has way more benefits than hindrances. If you aren’t connected with a community right now or find that you need to get back into one, I encourage you to spend some time in prayer, reflecting on what is stopping you from living in community.

    As people of God, we have a choice, we can either fall and remain there without anyone to help us up, or we can fall and be surrounded by a community who will help us back up. I pray that you will choose to live in community, letting go of what hinders you, so you can walk alongside, encourage and spur others on in faith. For you were made for community, not isolation.

    Heavenly Father, we thank you for your caring provisions and for creating us for community. You know what has been stopping us from engaging in real community and we ask that you remove any hindrances. Bring into our lives people who we can fellowship with, break bread with, and pray for one another. The truth is we need each other and we need you. Amen. 

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  • Called Into Community

    I used to love getting ready to go places. I’d put on a cute outfit, maybe some booties, jeans and a cardigan with a long necklace. That was my go-to outfit before the pandemic. Now, my new daily outfit consists primarily of sweat pants and a hoodie. I find it harder than I used to to want to get dressed in normal attire and go out into public. I used to actually go into stores or out to eat in restaurants, but I find myself feeling like that is just too much effort. I’d much rather stay in my car, grab take-out and do the drive-up store pick up (I mean, that way I can still wear my sweats and I don’t have to break a sweat!). Anyone else in this boat??

    Do you have some new pandemic habits that have stuck even after you may no longer “need” them?

    Coming out of the pandemic, it seems we are all learning how to re-engage in life and in community after two long years of isolation and a daily rhythm that was anything but normal. After having to be separated from others and careful about keeping our distance, it is understandable that we may be hesitant to jump back in. For some people, there is a real need to continue to be cautious in order to keep their loved ones who are vulnerable safe. But the truth for most of us is that we have simply lost the habits we once had, like getting together with family and friends, volunteering at our kids’ school or going to church in person.

    We are creatures of habit. They say it takes 21 days of doing something to create a new habit. Well, we’ve had 2 years to create a whole new set of habits we’ve all gotten used to!

    It’s pretty normal for most of us to keep doing the things that we are used to doing until something interrupts them and we are forced to do something new. The pandemic forced us to change the way we did things and how we lived our lives. Out of necessity we had to create new ways of doing the things that were once normal, requiring us to stay home more and see people less. Whether we liked it or not, it was the way it was.

    Now as we are coming out of the pandemic, we need to recognize that some of the new ways of living that were once a necessity, may now no longer be helping us but rather hindering us. Some of our “new normals” are keeping us from the life in community that God wants for us.

    At first, online church made it possible to worship together, even though we were apart. But at some point it became easier to just stay home. We didn’t have to get out of our pjs or go anywhere. Working from home became the new norm, which can be great, but we also don’t have the same opportunities to interact meaningfully with others. The drive-up pick up became a thing everywhere and we had even more reasons to never talk to anyone or ever get out of our car. Are you seeing a trend here? 🙂

    The pandemic made it easier to escape into our own holes and ignore the world around us. Our new pandemic habit has been to “do our own thing” and to be honest, it can be so much easier than dealing with others. Relationships can be hard and socializing even harder, especially if you are an introvert. And while there are people we look forward to seeing and spending time with, there are also relationships in our lives that require a little more of our energy and patience.

    The problem with some of the new habits we may have acquired over the last couple of years is that they tend to only further isolate us and keep us from community. You see, community was created by God and for our good. We were always made for community–its God’s plan all along. It is through community that we best see Christ’s love displayed. As we do life together, we get to experience the abundant life Christ wants for us.

    Although we feel like staying home in our sweats because it is easier than being out in the world and in community, is it what we need? It is so much easier to let convenience and comfort become our biggest priorities. What we think we want, isn’t always what is best for us though. We need to be intentional about interrupting unhealthy rhythms and getting back to the abundant living God invites us into.

    Being in community helps us be our best selves because it requires us to give of ourselves, to think outside of our own mind and opinions, to serve others, to experience love and joy, forgiveness and kindness.

    Even God lives in community as the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). God’s plan for us has always been to live out our lives and faith in community.

    “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    Hebrews 10:24–25

    I know sometimes when we hear this Scripture we can focus on the middle part and hear it in a guilt laden kind of way. Instead, as we look at the context, we see that this Scripture is reminding us what community is for–to spur one another on, to show Christ’s love, to serve one another as Christ would. The church is the body of Christ to the world.

    I believe the author of Hebrews is warning them that it can be easy to focus in our own stuff, especially in the world we live in today where it is super easy to keep to ourselves. But the author of Hebrews goes on to remind them just how important it is to stay in community because that is where the abundant life is. He wants them to remember that we need each other. When we are isolated and on our own too long, self-doubt and false narratives begin to fill our heads. It is when we come together in community that we are reminded of God’s truth and find encouragement to keep going when we want to give up.

    Being in God’s community helps us remember not only who God is, but who we are in Him. It is in the community of believers that we see a fuller, more comprehensive picture of God Himself. As the body of Christ, together we reflect God’s character of love and hope to a lost and lonely world.

    We’re our best selves when we’re experiencing life’s highs and lows with others. Being in community gives us the chance to be around people at different stages of their faith journey—and to bear their burdens alongside them (Galatians 6:2). That’s awesome because everyone has something to teach and to learn.

    Community helps form our character and gives us the opportunity to reflect Christ, offering and receiving love and forgiveness from one another. It smooths out our rough edges and refines our hearts in ways that self-reflection in solitude cannot.

    I know my endurance for socializing and being in community isn’t what it once was. Maybe you feel that way too. It may take some time to build and develop those social muscles all over again, but it begins with getting back out there. It’s going to take a willingness to break free from our “new normals” and step out of our comfort zones. It may even require you to ditch the sweat pants. 😉 But it will be SO worth it!

    So what are some baby steps each of us can take to get back into community?

    The best first step is to begin with prayer. Praying for a willing heart, saying  “Lord help me to want to be willing, even if I’m not right now”. Praying for God to open your eyes to the need for community, and give you a fresh appreciation for His people. Asking God to open your eyes to the fears that may be holding you back and help make your thoughts and actions obedient to Christ.

    As we get back out there, we have a chance to reprioritize the things that we are adding back into our lives, according to God’s Word and His Will. Some things may look different than they did before the pandemic, but that’s ok. Just keep leaning into God and His direction in your life, and He will lead you to where you are supposed to be–straight into His abundant life for you.

    This may look different for different situations (especially if there are special unique situations you are facing), but we all can find ways to connect to the outside world. It’s ok not to jump into it all at once. Just take the one small thing that you feel God is calling you to add back into your life. Maybe it is to call that friend and get together for coffee, or it is to try out that new church, or go back to church, or maybe it is inviting family over for dinner. It could even be as simple as bringing a neighbor some flowers.

    Take some time this week to pray about how God might bring you one step deeper into a life of community. There is abundant blessing waiting for you found only in a life lived together!

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