What Are You Afraid Of?

Photo by Emma Shappley

Photo by Emma Shappley

Last year I read a book titled Think It Not Strange by Piper and Mathis. It reminds me of the perspective we have as American Christians. We can hardly fathom persecution the way the Bible talks about persecution. Yet, when you truly think of the cost of Christianity, it’s strange that we are not persecuted - yet.

I know there have been Christians that have been persecuted for their faith here in the great USA. But we don’t often hear of that. For most of us, our persecution may include:

  • being made fun of

  • being ostracized

  • losing a promotion

  • losing a job

  • maybe even a divorce or

  • being somewhat cut off from family

But what do we gain with our relationship with Jesus Christ?

  • peace with God

  • the peace of God

  • freedom from sin

  • a calling and purpose for life

  • eternal life

  • grace

  • mercy

  • love

  • abundant life (now)

  • family all over the world (other Christians)

  • and so much more

So what are we afraid of when it comes to sharing our faith or standing up for what Jesus says is right? I’m Southern Baptist by denomination. Unfortunately, we are more known for what we are against than for what we are for. Here are a few things I am for:

  • loving people because Jesus loves people

  • serving people because Jesus showed me how

  • offering grace before judgement because Jesus gives grace to all who come to Him

  • extending mercy because Jesus has pardoned me from what I deserve

  • sharing the gospel of salvation because Jesus died and rose again so we can be saved

We are not all called to be martyrs - to die for our faith in Jesus, but we are ALL called to LIVE for Him.

We are not all called to be martyrs, but we are all called to live for Him.

Jesus made the cost of discipleship very plain.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
— Luke 14:26-27 ESV

But the rewards… oh the greatness of following Jesus…

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
— Jesus - Luke 23:43 ESV

To think Jesus stepped down from heaven out of glory to live among us. He knew that to redeem us He would have to be separated from His Father for the first time in eternity. He did that willingly because He loves you and me.

As mere human beings we cannot understand how He could take the beatings and the cross for us. But as the Holy God, He became sin - S.I.N - so we might have salvation in Him. How can that be? That, my friend, is love. Amazing love.

When I remind myself of Jesus’ amazing love for me and for you, I have to ask myself - “What am I afraid of?” Because -Jesus is worth EVERYTHING you are afraid of losing!

Primary Colors in a Gray World

Photo by Craig Whitehead

Photo by Craig Whitehead

Are you a primary color in a gray world? You know what I mean. That person who lights up a room just by walking in it. Maybe it’s your smile or your bright personality or your festive fashion that draws folks to you.

If you are that primary color in a gray world rest in the fact that God made you to stand out so stand out for His glory! You know I don’t mean be obnoxious or arrogant but confident and loving. God has gifted you to touch the lives of others in a unique way.

There are countless people who are struggling beneath a load that you and I cannot see. One smile or kind word can make a difference to them. We all need interaction and touch and to feel loved.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 ESV

Those of us who are surrounded by people we love and who love us sometimes take for granted the hugs and kisses or the touch of another person. I’m a touchy feely person, so if you are around me for very long you are most likely getting a hug or pat or both! Often I do that without realizing it, but sometimes I am very purposeful to offer a hug because I’ve learned that some people go day in and day out without ever being touched. I can’t imagine that!

You can be a primary color in a gray world to someone, even if it’s not your nature.

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. Dr. Seuss

I love that quote by Dr. Seuss! It’s so true. Often times we all have those feelings of “do I really matter” but the truth is we do. We matter more than we know to someone. Just like we need to be reminded that we matter, we need to be on purpose of reminding others that they matter, too!

So whether you feel like you’re a primary color in a gray world or not, you can be such to someone. Jesus tells us to let our like shine. That’s not for our own benefit but for His glory because we’re to be pointing people to Him..

Shine brightly this week. Give a smile to those around you. Say a kind word to someone - you never know how badly they may need it!

Old Things Made into a New Creation

Rags to Bag.jpg

I have been a Christian for forty years this year! And I am still amazed at the work Jesus does in our lives through the Holy Spirit. When we are born again, we are made into a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

If you know a little something about “creation”, you know that God does not need any material to create something new. He created the world in which we live with only His spoken word.

This week I was trying to think of some sewing projects that I could do without having to buy any new fabric. I pulled out “old” fabric that I’ve had in boxes and searched YouTube and Pinterest for ideas. That’s how I came up with making fabric gift bags.

From the photo at the beginning of this post, you can see the two fabrics I chose to use to make these cute little drawstring bags. The red makes the inside lining and the green floral is the outside. I found some cord that I had around here to use as the drawstring.

I have to admit I am pretty pleased with myself for using up all of the green floral fabric and a good bit of the red by making something useful and new. I couldn’t help but think of the new creation I am since Jesus saved me. Trust me when I tell you that alone is quite a miracle, but He’s in the miracle business. I’m not the first person He’s made a new creation and I certainly won’t be the last.

Jesus is in the saving business! And He chooses to use the sinful person we are to create a saint - no, saints are not perfect, but we are CHANGED and we’re forgiven! Hallelujah! We are made new!

I can’t tell you what all Jesus does with everyone else, but what I can tell you is what He is doing with me. You see, I trusted Christ when I was twelve years old. Frankly, I got saved for fear of hell. But Jesus doesn’t offer a fire insurance only. He’s all or nothing. You give Him all or you get nothing.

I wasn’t content with the fire insurance that I had gotten. Day by day, Jesus began to change me. He showed me that He saved me for His glory and for His purpose. This was no small feat, either. Sure I was a good kid and fairly good teenager in the eyes of man, but even as a believer I struggled with sin. (Spoiler alert: all Christians do.)

Some of the changes happened quickly, some took a few years and still others are a work in process. I had a hot temper. Jesus had cooled my jets - a lot. I used to have a very sharp tongue. Jesus holds it more often than not these days. I struggle with insecurity, but Jesus is teaching me to find my security in Him alone.

If you have that gnawing inside that there has to be more, let me assure you there is! If you’ve never trusted Jesus as you Lord, do it now! There are no magic words. Just tell Him that you confess you’re a sinner and you believe He is the Son of God. Ask Him to save you and He will.

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10

If you are saved, but you have that gnawing feeling that there’s got to be more, let me assure you there is! Jesus promises every believer LIFE and life to the full. You can rest in Him. Confess your sin. Ask for forgiveness and rest in His forgiveness.

If that doesn’t relieve that gnawing then ask Him to show you what it is in your life that you are holding onto that He wants you to let go. He will.

Just like that old fabric became a new creation to be used for a purpose, so are we a new creation in Jesus Christ! I’m so thankful I am not who I once was and that I am becoming the woman Jesus wants me to be in Him.

A Day in the Life of an Author

Photo by Rawpixel

Photo by Rawpixel

OK, so I feel really weird even writing about this topic since I still struggle with the idea of being an author. Maybe after I have a few books under my belt it will seem more real. But, I’m trying to be transparent in my craft. If you follow my blog, you know I self-published my first book last year. And it’s an amazing feeling! But now what?

If you read The Experiment then you know it ended on a cliff hanger and there will be a book two. I’m planning a series about the protagonist, actually. And I am currently working on book two now. Let me just say, it’s more difficult to write. The first book came out of a writing challenge with my son. (My family is huge support!) I sat on the book for months, but finally got the guts to publish it.

You might ask why I want to write books. Besides the obvious reason of that writer being buried inside me for as long as I can remember, I want to be able to share my faith in Jesus Christ long after I’m gone. My thoughts had always been to write non-fiction, (and I still may) but it would be rare for a non-believer to read a Christian non-fiction book, I think.

Just days before my mother went home to be with the Lord, she called our pastor to plan her funeral. She literally told him what she wanted him to preach. Her reasoning was that her funeral would be the last time she could share the gospel. Let me tell you, her life shared the gospel and so did her funeral. Two family members came to know Jesus that day! What a celebration, right!

That being said, fiction thrillers have the potential to reach people I will never have an opportunity to reach. Thus, I am embarking on a journey much different than the one I had pictured with writing.

A day in this life is one full of things needing my time and attention! I am working a full time job and I’m often called to be out and about with others. My life probably sounds a lot like yours. At least three evening out of the week, I am already booked with things to do and/or places to go. After working all day, it is really hard to make myself sit down and write a novel. I am about one fourth of the way through book two.

I’m finding that I don’t like outlines. I didn’t use one with the first book. I wrote it by the seat of my pants - known as a “pantser”. I like to see where the story will naturally go so when it isn’t tying bows together from the last book I PROCRASTINATE! A lot!

Needless to say, other things are getting done around my house. I have crocheted a lot! I have packed up some things for a move coming…next year! But I am committing to you that I will begin my daily writing routine again!

My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Psalm 45:1 (NASB)