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On Friday, I went to a screening of the film “Back Home,” a documentary covering the story of one man who survived the Rwandan genocide in 1994. One of the themes of the film was reconciliation.

The method by which Rwandans have chosen to bring the perpetrators of the genocide to justice is called “gacaca“, which means “grass court.” At that time the the perpetrators come before the village, including the victim’s family, and confesses the crime. Then, the victim’s family has the opportunity to release the guilty party from their burden through forgiveness. There are still penalties paid by the offender, but this was described as the first step in their “re-humanization.”

One of the words that struck me as the director talked about this process was the word “sacrifice.” He said that in order for reconciliation to begin, the victim must sacrifice their right to vengeance. Those victims have every single right to demand justice be served and claim the authority to see the guilty pay for what they have done, but for the greater good, they forfeit that right.

To me, this is one of the greatest examples of selflessness I could ever fathom. It leads me to think of how much more then we should be willing to lay down our “right” to claim vengeance on those who have wronged us in the run of the mill, every day offenses.

There are times when we are done wrong- no question about it (although there are many more often times when we played a part in our being offended). But for those times when we are purely wronged, we have the choice to make the offender pay or to release them and help them “re-orient” to life in the Spirit rather than life led by the flesh, which led them into the offense.

Last night in my small group we read Numbers 21:4-8. It intrigues me because Moses had every right to be furious with the Israelites. He had been a faithful leader, and all he seemed to get was the shaft from the people. But when they plead with him to pray for them, he did. And because of his prayers, the Lord delivered the people.

I’m not sure how theologically sound this theory is, but I believe that those kinds of selfless, sacrificial prayers are deeply honored by God. When the offended can lay aside their right to anger and pray for the offenders, Satan’s plan is thwarted and the Lord can work powerfully.

The Lord is good, and His ways are far above mine. This is one of those things that doesn’t make sense to me, but I praise God for his love and the Holy Spirit that enables us to have moments where we can transcend this fallen world.

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I’m a sucker for a challenge. :)

After the great ideas and comments from my $12k blog, I decided to take Dan’s suggestion to heart.

God works powerfully through His people. He gives them visions and dreams and passions for how to bring His Kingdom to earth. You guys proved through your wonderful and diverse ideas on how to bless others with the financial resources God blesses us with.

So here’s the deal. All I want to challenge you to do is to be proactive. Take that idea that has been knocking around in the back of your head and do something with it.

As for my part, if you will either email me (my first name dot my last name at gmail) or leave a comment (and this blog has always allowed anonymous comments), I’ll add it to the tally and note what ministry is being furthered through the generosity of SojoBlog readers. The goal will be to reach $12,000 corporately. No gift is too small to report! Jesus was known to take a couple of loaves and fishes to feed multitudes.

You can donate to ministries, mission funds, humanitarian efforts, medical causes, or whatever other organization, charity or cause God has placed on your heart. The only stipulation I’ll make is that political campaigns don’t count. This is on the honor system, so you don’t have to show a receipt or anything. :)

I’m going to place a permalink to this post over in the left hand column so you can check back and see how the Lord is working.

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$30- World Vision monthly child sponsorship
$35- Donation to The Refuge
$1800- Annual total of $150 monthly donation to send a Honduran child to school
$200- Helping to send two students to Cambodia on a mission trip
$150- Donation towards local missionary

Current Total- $2215

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963

Just a few things.

I am a proud member of the Family of God at Quail Springs.

I have never been more excited about the future of the church than I am now.

I am thankful for the gifts the Lord has given each of us and hope we will find ways to glorify Him through those gifts.

I celebrate the freedom found in Christ and His church.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store!

Recently as I was talking with a friend, I was bemoaning some of the things I feel like God has put on my heart to do. They shared some good perspective, and since it is the appropriate season, I thought I’d pass it along:

Sojo– I feel like God’s putting too much on my plate right now. I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Friend– Hmm. Are you expecting?
Sojo– :::pause::: Expecting what?
Friend– Are you expecting?
Sojo– Expecting? Expecting… a baby?!?!
Friend– Yes.
Sojo– :::shocked silence and incredulous look::: WHAT?!? NO!
Friend– Then maybe God’s not putting too much in front of you after all. :::smile:::

Yes, perspective is everything. I’ve never been left so speechless and tickled. :)

In related news, last night I read one of the most comforting single womandom thoughts. The book noted that all of the women in the genealogy of Jesus were single when they acted in the bravery and faith that they are known for. Rock on!

Ever feel like God is working to teach you a certain lesson? Well for the past few months I’ve been getting schooled in Jehovah Jireh—the God who provides.

Despite my semi-charmed kinda life, lately I’ve been anxious about some of the tasks I see before me, wondering from my puny human vantage point how on earth they will come to pass.

But God reminded me through a friend that my fears are not uncommon to humanity, and that perhaps I am, in fact, in good company.

Gabriel said, You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out! God be with you.

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.

But the angel assured her, You have nothing to fear…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you. Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.

And she said, Yes, I see it all now… I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.

–Adapted from Luke 1

Which then reminded me of one of my favorite songs:

Do you wonder, as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven, hold me together,
Be forever near me, breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven, lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness, for you are holy.

Breath of Heaven, Amy Grant

I’m starting to think that the biggest part of a life guided by the Holy Spirit is just showing up and trusting. But I have a feeling this is a lesson I’ll be learning the rest of my life.

Secrecy versus honesty seems to be a current theme of my life that God is working on within me.

In telling my story like I did a few weeks ago, I was forced to confront many secrets I’d been keeping about my life– many of them brought to light for the first time. To say that has been painful is an understatement, but it is also a victory over several weapons Satan has been using to manipulate my thoughts and beliefs.

Also, a mentor of mine recently challenged me to confront a “secret” I was keeping from a friend. I quote secret because that’s truly not how I saw it; I would have admitted that I probably wasn’t telling the whole truth, but I never considered myself being secretive or manipulative. However, my mentor wrote the following words to explain effect he’s seen secrecy have time and again on relationships:

In relationships, unaddressed things gain power over time. Whether it’s in relationships between people or the relationship between a person and the Lord, the enemy inhabits shame, guilt, and fear and uses it to erode an individual’s usefulness to God and to destroy his or her joy.

I realized that by being afraid to share myself and my feelings, I was keeping the relationship on a superficial level and setting the stage for Satan to foster fear and manipulation later on down the road. In spite of every fearful natural instinct in me, I told my friend the truth. Honestly, initially it was hard on both of us, thanks to some severe miscommunication (which I firmly believe was Satan trying to destroy a relationship that glorified God). But we were committed to working through it, and ultimately it opened a dialogue that ushered in a new level of freedom, openness, and trust that I, honestly, have rarely experienced.

Since then, God has opened the doors and opened my eyes to the importance of honesty in several areas of my life. This isn’t to suggest that we should bare our souls to every schmuck that walks by, but how many of us are truly honest with those we love and want to grow closer to? If anyone else is like me, they’re afraid that by revealing their true selves and feelings people will respond with disgust or rejection. And at times that might happen. But God has used several people in my life recently to show me that honesty and vulnerability is a beautiful thing, and in holy relationships can reveal the heart and love of God.

For the past month or so, our small group from church has been using Sunday nights to tell our stories. Those denominationalists might call it giving testimonies. :) Anyway, last night was my turn.

It’s kind of a strange thing to have a captive audience listen to you tell about your entire life, birth to present. The only way in which it can work is within a supportive group who truly cares about you. All those who’ve already told their stories have shown incredible vulnerability and openness, and God has really been glorified through their triumphs and struggles.

So last night was my turn! Even if you’ve just read the blog over the past few years, you know that my life has had some ups and downs. It was difficult to remember and recount many hard memories, but also very healing and therapeutic to see how God has provided and worked throughout my entire life. The best part of all is that I’m so excited to see what lies ahead. :)

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m so grateful to be surrounded by such an amazing cloud of witnesses who cheer me on and encourage me to follow the vision and paths God’s put before me. Many thanks to all of you who have been part of my story.

Team Nickerson! Mr. and Mrs. Nickerson, me, Pete, Amy, Jen

Well we did it! Saturday I got up long before dawn and my buddies and I made our way downtown to Race for the Cure, although I called mine “Walk for the Cure”, because I sure wasn’t racing anybody. :) I was ok with my time, averaging a little over 15 minutes a mile. I was at about 13 or 14 before I got sick, so I’m alright with that. My friends really rocked it; both Pete and Amy beat their goals. We had fun, and I’m glad I went. I’m hoping I can be much more participatory and competitive the next time I’m in a 5k.

Finish line! (that is not any of our times, by the way)

Then last night was quite a treat. My beloved Bible class from church wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate my new job (oh, I haven’t mentioned that yet, have I? heehee…). I got to choose the place, so we went to Cracker Barrel. I have been craving southern cooking!!! I am so blessed by such an amazing Christian community. These guys have cheered for me and encouraged me and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. And now they’re so sweet to celebrate with me. :) God is good!

Sherry and Bob, two of the most servant hearted people you’ll ever meet

Me, Auvrey, Kris

Tiffany, Amy, Rebecca

Tara and Ryan (in the baby rocking chair)

My cup is truly overflowing right now. God has been so gracious to me throughout my life, but especially now I feel just overwhelming gratitude. I believe I’m in a “daytime” of life– when things are good and peaceful. I’ve been through enough storms to know that life was not meant to stay perpetually in times like this, but I’ve also learned to praise God and relish them.

Hold on love, don’t give up
Don’t close your eyes
The light is breaking through the night

Step out into the day, all the clouds and all the rain are gone
It’s over now
Step out into the sun, for you have only begun to know
What it’s all about
As the hungering dark gives way to the dawn, my love
It’s over now
–Bebo Norman

One type of blessing that always touches me is when someone comes to me and says, “God placed this scripture on my heart and I believe He wants me to share it with you.” I’ve had that happen several times in my life, and I still remember them clearly and those passages are some of the dearest to my heart. When I’m down or feeling burdened I still go back to the scriptures given to me by friends along the journey.

Sometimes I think that sometimes we lose the importance and beauty of speaking blessings over each other. Thankfully, I worship with a family that still faithfully believes in the power of praying over and blessing brothers and sisters. Speaking truth to the hearts of brothers and sisters is one of the vital roles we have as a Christian family, especially when the world saturates us with lies. I pray that you will feel moved speak a blessing over someone in your life. It may be what gives them the strength to fight another day.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
–Proverbs 16:24

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